Wednesday October 18, 2017

New app for captuirng causes of deaths

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Melbourne: A team of researchers has developed a revolutionary new app for tablets and mobile phones to accurately capture the causes of deaths at a time when two in three deaths – 35 million each year – are unregistered worldwide, including in India.

Around 180 countries that are home to 80 percent of the world’s population do not collect reliable cause of death statistics.

“Without the accurate cause of death information, we cannot monitor disease and injury trends, we can’t keep track of emerging health problems and we don’t have any markers to show us whether programs and policies are actually working,” said professor Alan Lopez from the University of Melbourne.

To develop the app, the research team redesigned a short “verbal autopsy” questionnaire and tested it in India, the Philippines, Mexico and Tanzania. The app was then field-tested in China, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea.

Family members of the deceased were given surveys in hand-held devices. A computer then analysed the data to make a diagnosis, bypassing the need to rely on doctors to do this work.

The method involves data collection by health workers, registrars and village officials who use the app to administer the surveys.

“The data is fed into a computer, which makes a diagnosis. It requires very minimal training. This way doctors are free to do what they do best, which is providing essential medical care to their communities,” the authors noted.

Computers can reliably provide a diagnosis by linking symptoms with a specific cause of death in real-time.

The instant provision of information overcomes what can be a 10-year lag between the death and the doctor’s report.

“So if you live in a country where no-one is dying from malaria, then why are you pouring money into malaria-prevention programmes? And conversely, if people are dying from lung cancer, why aren’t you investing in tobacco control?” professor Lopez asked.

Verbal autopsy research has shown that computer models are just as accurate as physicians in making diagnoses based on verbal autopsy data, at a fraction of the cost.

The app is the result of a decade-long global collaboration led by the University of Melbourne and researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington.

“In countries with scarce data on causes of death, policymakers need this information to better understand local disease burden and effectively allocate resources,” added IHME director Dr Christopher Murray.

Up-to-date, reliable information on what people are dying from and at what age, is really important for policies to prevent premature death.

“Our app provides a way to do this, quickly, simply, cheaply and effectively, in real time, with the power of technology, professor Lopez concluded in a new paper published in the journal BMC Medicine. (IANS)

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Facebook Acquires the Anonymous Teenage Polling App ‘tbh’

An official statement from Facebook said: "tbh and Facebook share a common goal -- of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together"

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tbh
Facebook brings the developers of 'tbh' app to share and expand a common goal of making stronger communities. Pixabay

San Francisco, October 17, 2017 : Facebook has acquired ‘tbh’, an anonymous polling app for teenagers which has over 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the US.

The app lets teenagers anonymously answer kind-hearted, multiple-choice questions about friends, who then receive the poll results as compliments, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday.

“When we set out to build tbh, we wanted to create a community that made us feel happier and more confident about ourselves. We felt that people craved genuine and positive interactions in their online experiences,” ‘tbh’ said in a statement.

“Over the last few weeks, over 5 million people have downloaded tbh and sent over a billion messages. More importantly, we’ve been inspired by the countless stories where tbh helped people recover from depression and form better relationships with friends,” it read.

ALSO READ How Facebook is Helping Its Users Fight Identity Theft

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but according to TechCrunch, it is likely to be somewhere around less than $100 million and will not require regulatory approval.

“As part of the deal, tbh’s four co-creators — Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon — will join Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters while continuing to grow their app,” the report added.

“When we met with Facebook, we realised that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realise tbh’s vision and bring it to more people,” ‘tbh’ said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “tbh and Facebook share a common goal — of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together”. (IANS)

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“The Restorers” : Kenyan Girls Use Technology to Combat Female Genital Mutilation

5 Kenyan Girls and Dorcas Owinoh, the team’s mentor have together created an app called i-Cut, which connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already been cut

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  • They have created an app called i-Cut which connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already been cut
  • The pain of having your clitoris cut just because someone wants to have you go through a rite of passage

“It’s still fresh in my mind, the scene of female genital mutilation,” said Purity Achieng, a 17-year-old from Kenya.

Achieng was speaking on stage in the finals of the Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit, a competition that invites girls from around the world to come up with tech solutions to local community problems. Since it began in 2009, 15,000 girls from more than 100 countries have participated in the competition.

Achieng and her team of four other Kenyan teen girls call themselves “The Restorers.” They are taking on Female Genital Mutilation or FGM. They have created an app, called i-Cut, which connects girls at risk of FGM with rescue agents and offers support for those who have already been cut. It also provides information for anyone seeking to learn more about the practice.

ALSO READ: In Malawi, a Kenyan NGO trains Girls in Self Defense to counter Sexual Abuse

“The pain of having your clitoris cut just because someone wants to have you go through a ‘rite of passage,’” said Achieng, during her pitch at the competition. “It’s painful and no one wants to listen to you. You cry and there you are, almost dying but nobody is caring about that.”

At least 200 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation or FGM in 30 countries, reports UNICEF and 44 million are girls 14 and younger. The practice involves cutting out all or part of a woman’s clitoris, which is said to eliminate almost completely a woman’s sexual pleasure, in hopes of ensuring her virginity and keeping her faithful in marriage.

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The Kenyan girls in this competition have not experienced FGM firsthand, as their tribe does not practice it, but they have friends who have. One of Achieng’s best friends was forced to drop out of school and into an early marriage at 15 after FGM, which greatly affected Achieng.

“I think for teenagers to be able to identify problems around them and provide a solution, that is really inspiring,” said Dorcas Owinoh, the team’s mentor, who works as a community manager at LakeHub, a technology innovation hub in Kisumu, Kenya. It was Owinoh who brought the idea of the Technovation Challenge to the team.

ALSO READ: Kenyan girls pedal towards a better future

Achieng said it was her friend dropping out of school after FGM that inspired the team to create the app.

Other teams in the international event came from Armenia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Cambodia, the U.S. and other countries. The Restorers were the only team who qualified from the African continent.

“It’s always better when the people who face the problems, come up with their own solutions because they’re the most organic,” said Tara Chklovski, founder, and CEO of Iridescent, the nonprofit behind Technovation.

Though the i-Cut app has the potential to save lives, it has not been embraced by all Kenyans. “One village elder drove six hours to their school to protest the app because, according to him, that’s an African culture and the girls are being, according to him, Westernized,” Owinoh said.

The man had learned of the app after local media reported of the girl’s acceptance into Technovation. Owinoh said school leaders and teachers remained calm, spoke with him, and then asked him to leave.

ALSO READ: Sexual Exploitation of Women and Girls in Kenya in Return for Food

Technovation comes at a time when women in technology are facing blowback, not just in Kenya, but even at the Google headquarters where the competition was held. A Google employee was recently fired after writing a memo positing that women are biologically inferior to men in regards to working in technology.

“I know the journey won’t always be easy but to the girls who dream of being an engineer or an entrepreneur and who dream of creating amazing things, I want you to know that there’s a place for you in this industry, there’s a place for you at Google—don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the girls.

The Restorers did not win the Technovation Challenge, but they will continue their fight against FGM and hope to get i-Cut into the Google Play Store soon. (VOA)

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Indian Railway Announces new App for all Travel Related Services

An integrated platform- a one stop solution for all travel related services

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Representational Image. Source-Wikimedia

March 2, 2017: Indian Railway announced a new app today as part of the new business plan of 2017-18. This mobile app will be launched in May and will provide an integrated platform- a one stop solution for all travel related services – ticketing, hiring taxis, porters, retiring rooms, finding hotels, booking tour package, ordering food from restaurants.

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This app would also allow booking of unreserved, season and platform tickets. Other advantages of this app include promotion of digitization through online payment, reduction of queues outside ticket counters and saving of paper, mentioned PTI report.

The app would generate non fare revenues for Indian Railway through passenger related data available to Indian Railway and would have an affiliate sales partnership model for making available different services and products needed by the passengers.

– prepared by NewsGram team