Posts tagged Technology
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.
With many of us working and schooling from home during lockdown, our connection to the internet has never been more important. But what happens if our broadband service goes bad?
I was asked by The One Show to share some consumer advice on what to do if your broadband service is unreliable or slower than you were promised. I explain how some simple consumer protections can keep you connected — or help you cut free from your contract.
The consumer protections I explain include:
- The Cooling-off Period – what’s the law when changing your mind?
- Ofcom Code of Practice and Consumer Rights Act – including the “minimum speed guarantee”
- Alternative Dispute Resolution – when complaints fall on deaf ears
Take a look:
The good folks at Resolver – the free independent resolution service – asked if I could put some of my broadband contract and service consumer advice into writing for them: Beating those Broadband Blues.
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.
Is there a Gadget Doctor in the house? There is now.
In my surgery I mostly cover online safety and cybersecurity. Recently I’ve shared tips on video chat app safety, smart speaker privacy, and how to set up group calls for relatives who aren’t on the internet.
Needless to say, with many of us relying on technology at the moment to keep in touch with family, friends and work colleagues, we very have a busy mailbag right now.
Also on the Gadget Doctor rota are fellow experts in gaming, home entertainment, smartphones and photography – between us, we have most tech topics covered.
Need help with a tech tongue-twister? Drop the team a line at ku.oc.ortemnull@rotcodtegdag
Mobile World Congress (MWC) is where the world’s mobile industry meets.
An enormous event attracting over 100,000 visitors, MWC sets the agenda for the technology that impacts our lives the most.
This year, working with the show’s official broadcast outlet, we were challenged to produce a daily hour-long TV show that captured the energy, creativity and invention of MWC’s startup-focused event, 4YFN.
The result – The 4 Years from Now Show – achieved all that and more, with top quality broadcast output that surfaced the scale and spirit of the show.
We spoke with startups applying robotics, AI and blockchain to solve real-world challenges; we chatted biohacking, transhumanism and brainwave modulation with experts and practitioners; we even tried a sleep robot, a connected cat litter tray and a post-workout training shoe drying and sterilising device.
Individual packages from the show are now available on demand over at Mobile World Live TV.
I’ve been filming some items for Channel 4 prime-time consumer programme, Supershoppers. In tonight’s show, I’m investigating broadband and Wi-Fi speeds.
Is the internet speed you pay for the speed you actually get throughout your home? There are lots of reasons why that may not be the case, one of which is how well your broadband router performs.
The majority of us make do with the router provided by our internet service provider when we sign up. While that’s often the easiest way to get up and running, that bundled hardware may not always provide the best internet experience around the house.
So, we’re testing the kit shipped by the some of UK’s top internet service providers – as well as some after-market options – to see which router works the hardest to send Wi-Fi around your home.
In the show we test:
- BT Smart Hub
- Sky Q Hub
- Virgin Media Hub 3.o
- TP-Link TL-W940N
- Linksys WRT1900ACS
Watch Supershoppers on Thursday 14 June 2018 at 8pm or catch up on All 4.
Rip Off Britain is back with a new series on BBC1 this week.
In one of this season’s films, I talk about how internet-connected doorbells are now being used help to catch crooks.
Think of a connected doorbell as a video intercom – similar to those already popular in flats and offices – that connects your front door to your phone. Not only do they provide peace of mind when your doorbell – or perhaps that of an elderly relative – rings, these smart devices can also record video of who is at the door. Needless to say, they have already been used to help identify criminals.
In another item for the show this series, I take Julia Somerville to a Bitcoin cashpoint to explain what cryptocurrency is and how it works – and how some viewers may have lost substantial sums of more traditional cash to so-called Bitcoin scammers.
This year for the show we’ve also been making some quick advice films for Facebook – here’s me talking about why some viewers’ second-hand smartphone have suddenly stopped working days or weeks after they’ve bought them:
Rip Off Britain airs on BBC1 at 9.15am from Monday 13th June 2018, available on catch-up on BBC iPlayer.