Hello, as we all try to stay safe by practicing social distancing, here is a highlight of coronavirus-related tech news from around the world this week.
Unacast, an American startup, is using cell phone data to track whether Americans have been practicing social distancing. The startup collects and analyzes phone GPS location data from games, shopping and utility apps. The app has a scoreboard that grades different counties and states in the US from ‘A’ to ‘F’ based on how much people are congregating in those areas.
There have also been reports that the US Government, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is buying adverts that send back geolocation information to know where people are congregating. Although there is no evidence that the US government is using this data to monitor people’s movement as restrictions are put in place, other countries such as South Korea have used phone data to enforce stay-at-home orders by receiving notifications whenever quarantined people leave their homes.
China and Russia have been accused by the US of sending waves of coronavirus misinformation to cause panic in Europe and division in the U.S. In the same vein, fact-checking organization, Snopes, has been forced to scale back production of its contents as its fact-checkers have been overwhelmed by the amount of COVID-19 misinformation
Amazon has hired 100,000 workers and given a pay rise of $2 an hour to its employees in fulfillment centers, transportation, stores and deliveries in the U.S. and Canada. It has also extended grants to small businesses located around its Seattle office. The money is intended to cover the daily operating costs of the businesses.
Apple has launched a COVID-19 screening tool in partnership with the CDC to offer reliable information about COVID-19, its symptoms, and other information including how to guard against the virus. The tool is in form of a website and a free iOS app.