Posts tagged Newsround
What role can technology play in helping to fight coronavirus? I’ve been keeping a close eye on the potential for smartphones to help contact tracing programmes become faster and more accurate.
While some national health authorities have raced to deploy contact tracing apps for their citizens’ smartphones, here in the UK it’s been a bumpy ride – as I wrote earlier in the summer.
Reporting for BBC Newsround, I gave an update on what happened to the NHS COVID-19 app in England, as well as how other home nations chose to move with their own apps.
Since this report, Apple and Google have pushed ahead with plans to integrate contact tracing right into their smartphones. Exposure Notifications Express means that a dedicated app may no longer be necessary to enable contact tracing.
In a recent report for CBBC Newsround I explained the theory behind how contact tracing apps work to reduce the spread of infectious diseases.
When this report went to air in May 2020, contact tracing apps were seen by many as a key tool in helping communities regain some of their social freedoms following restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
However, at the time of writing this – June 2020 – the UK’s contact tracing app still hasn’t been fully released, beyond a trial on the Isle of Wight.
And today the UK government revealed that its NHS contact tracing app will now change how it works, favouring “decentralised” technology supported by Apple and Google.
The initial version of the NHS contact tracing app was based on a centralised model recommended by scientists from Oxford University:
The team of Oxford scientists argue the UK’s choice of a centralised app architecture will significantly improve the NHS’s ability to refine, improve and evaluate the app’s configuration; they suggest it will ensure the app can rapidly and effectively guide the right people to self-isolate whilst enabling most people to start returning to normal life.
However, this change of direction appears to have been driven in part by mounting concerns over privacy and security – which might reduce the number of people comfortable using the app – along with technical challenges with how accurately the bespoke app was able to detect other smartphones.
Other countries have made similar u-turns, but all will hope that favouring a technology supported by Apple and Google will ensure better public trust and accuracy.
One thing is for sure: the idea that a contact tracing smartphone app might be a silver bullet to tame coronavirus has fallen very flat.
If you’re parent, you’ll know how much your children are missing their friends at the moment.
Video chat apps like Zoom, Houseparty and Facetime are a great way for children to keep in touch with their schoolmates – but sometimes things can go wrong.
Here’s a piece I filmed with BBC Newsround to help children and their parents learn how to stay safe when using group video chat apps.
A dedicated page on the website features these video group chat tips and some further online safety resources. It also includes a chat with my daughter about how she is keeping in touch with school friends while school is closed.
Newsround is something of an institution here in the UK. For many of us as we were growing up the John Craven-hosted daily show was our main window on the world.
As a parent now, I’ve once again found Newsround to be an invaluable resource, providing my children with just the right balance of information, reassurance and distraction when things outside are so confusing. The Newsround website is also filled with uplifting, informative and topical stories, and has helped us to talk about some big world topics as a family.