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Social Media Giant Facebook Releases Maps to Help Fight Disease Outbreak

Public health officials often have challenges predicting where disease outbreaks, like malaria or cholera, will strike

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FILE - An Indian man surfs a Facebook page at an Internet cafe in New Delhi, India, Feb. 9, 2016. VOA

In a bid to fight disease outbreaks, Facebook has built new maps that can help its health partners better understand where people live, how they are moving and whether they have connectivity.

“All of these maps, when combined with information from health systems, can improve the way organisations deliver supplies and respond to outbreaks,” Laura McGorman and Alex Pompe, Data for Good, Facebook, wrote in a blog on Monday.

The high-resolution population density maps estimate not only the number of people living within 30-meter grid tiles, but also provide insights on demographics, including the number of children under five, the number of women of reproductive age, as well as young and elderly populations, at high resolutions.

“These maps aren’t built using Facebook data and instead rely on combining the power of machine vision AI with satellite imagery and census information,” McGorman and Pompe said.

“By combining these publicly and commercially available datasets with Facebook’s AI capabilities, we have created population maps that are 3X more detailed than any other source,” they wrote.

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FILE – The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

But Facebook used its data on over two billion users to create movement maps.

Public health officials often have challenges predicting where disease outbreaks, like malaria or cholera, will strike.

However, research has found that pairing health system information with data on human mobility can yield valuable insights about diseases spread by human-to-human contact.

Also Read- Microsoft May Take a Call on Windows 10 Updates to Huawei Laptops

“Our movement maps aggregate information from people who are using Facebook on their mobile phones with location services enabled, providing real-time snapshots into mobility patterns,” the social networking giant said.

Because the majority of people use Facebook on mobile phones that rely on cellular networks, the social networking giant has also created real-time maps that show health organisations whether people can be reached with an online message in advance of activities like vaccination days or bed net distributions. (IANS)

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No one Would Buy a Huawei Smartphone Sans Google or Facebook

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle

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FILE - A member of the media tries out new Huawei Honor 20 series of phones following their global launch in London, UK, May 21, 2019. VOA

By Nishant Arora

Be honest and ask yourself: Would you buy a smartphone that neither supports Android operating system and Google apps nor comes pre-installed with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram? This is the scenario which Huawei (and its sub-brand Honor) smartphones stare at in the near future – and an imminent fall if the issue does not get resolved in the next one-two quarters.

Although the Chinese communications giant aims to launch its own operating system called “Hongmeng” to replace the Android OS on its smartphones but ‘abhi Dilli door hai’ as the OS has to see the light of the day and then users’ approval, which is the most critical part.

The absence of apps like Facebook or WhatsApp that truly define user experiences is a double whammy for Huawei.

Currently the second largest smartphone player in the world (powered by stupendous growth in non-US regions like Europe and Asia), Huawei has sensed the tough road ahead. A recent report in Nikkei Asian Review claimed that Huawei has “downgraded its forecast for total smartphone shipments in the second half of 2019 by about 20 per cent to 30 per cent from the previous estimate”.

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Devices and Ecosystem, India and South Asia, IDC, almost half of Huawei’s smartphone volumes come from outside China with its wide smartphone portfolio which runs on Android with Google Mobile Services (GMS) – a collection of Google applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) that help support functionality across devices.

“China has its own ecosystem of apps which are hugely popular but only in China. Outside it, almost all popular Android apps are from Google or from US-based companies. These apps are the heart of experience of any smartphone user these days,” Singh told IANS.

“Without these apps present on its own OS, it will be very very tough for Huawei to pull in demand for its phones running on its own OS,” he added.

Sandwiched between the ongoing US-China trade war, Chinese telecom equipment major Huawei is frantically looking to salvage its prestige and fast cover the lost ground.

The company is also looking at the Indian smartphone market which has touched 450 million smartphone users and has a great potential to grow.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

“In India, they have never been really able to scale up to be a major player. But considering the growth potential in India, the decision by Google and Facebook has put a spanner in the Huawei’s possible aggressive plans for the country as the next growth market in next two-three years outside of China,” Singh told IANS.

Huawei pipped Apple as the second largest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2019 after Samsung. It clocked 17 per cent market share in the global smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research.

The Chinese tech giant, meanwhile, has denied reports that it has cut down smartphone manufacturing.

The company, however, is reassessing its target to become the world’s top-selling smartphone vendor by 2020, after the US trade ban was put in place.

On May 15, US President Donald Trump effectively banned Huawei with a national security order.

Huawei has filed a motion in a US court challenging the constitutionality of the US President Donald Trump’s order to ban it.

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According to reports, Google has also discussed with the US government about an exemption from the Huawei ban, saying it is bad for the company’s technology business.

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle.

Unless, a miracle happens. (IANS)