Spacemaker, AI software for urban development, is acquired by Autodesk for $240M

Autodesk, the U.S. publicly listed software and services company that targets engineering and design industries, has acquired Norway’s Spacemaker, a startup that has developed AI-supported software for urban development.

The price of the acquisition is $240 million in a mostly all-cash deal. Spacemaker’s VC backers include European firms Atomico and Northzone, which co-led the company’s $25 million Series A round in 2019. Other investors on the cap table include Nordic real estate innovator NREP, Nordic property developer OBOS, U.K. real estate technology fund Round Hill Ventures and Norway’s Construct Venture.

Founded by Håvard Haukeland, Carl Christensen and Anders Kvale, and based in Oslo, Norway — but with a number of other outposts around the globe — the 115-person Spacemaker team develops and sells cloud-based software that utilises AI to help architects, urban designers and real estate developers make more informed design decisions. By having Spacemaker look over a designer’s shoulder, as CEO Haukeland likes to say, the software aims to augment the work of humans and not only speed up the urban development design and planning process but also improve outcomes, including around sustainability and quality of life for the people who will ultimately live in the resulting spaces.

To do this, the platform enables users to quickly “generate, optimize, and iterate on” design alternatives, taking into account design criteria and data like terrain, maps, wind, lighting, traffic and zoning, etc. Spacemaker then returns design alternatives optimized for the full potential of the site.

“It was never our plan in the beginning of 2020 to sell the company,” Haukeland told me on a call last week. “But when we started talking to Autodesk, who have reached out for a while, we realized they share our vision. And we understood that this can put our vision on steroids and we can really reach that vision much faster. And that’s what drives us, that’s what we want to do: We want to realize our vision and get our offering out in the world, at the hands of millions of architects and engineers and developers”.

During a call late Friday, Andrew Anagnost, CEO and president of Autodesk, said the acquisition of Spacemaker is in line with the company’s long-term strategy of using the power of the cloud, “cheap compute” and machine learning to evolve and change the way people design things.

“This is something strategically we’ve been working towards, both with the products we make internally with the capabilities we roll out that are more cutting edge, and also our initiative when we look at companies we’re interested in acquiring,” he said.

“We’ve been watching this space for a while; the application that Spacemaker has built we would characterize it, from our terminology, as ‘generative design’ for urban planning, meaning the machine generating options and option explorations for urban planning-type applications.

“Spacemaker really stands out in terms of applying cloud computing, artificial intelligence, data science, to really helping people explore multiple options and come up with better decisions”.

Image Credits: Spacemaker

Post-acquisition, the plan is to keep Spacemaker as an autonomous unit within Autodesk and (hopefully) not interfere too much with the formula and startup ethos that has seemingly been working, while also enabling the team to have the resources needed to continue on their mission.

“They want to let Spacemaker be Spacemaker; they’re not [just] acquiring our product, they’re acquiring the potential and the journey we’re on as a team,” says Haukeland. “They’re acquiring the mission we’re on, the way we work, the knowledge we have, [and] all our failed attempts along the way… so it’s much more than just swallowing the product”.

That knowledge and those “failed attempts” span not only the Spacemaker CEO’s own background as an architect, but the path to product-market-fit and the technology itself.

“Initially they targeted architects directly, but realised that they have relatively small budgets,” recalls Michiel Kotting, who led the startup’s Series A round on behalf of Northzone. “From Håvards experience in the industry they decided to pivot to serving [property] developers who then give the software to their in-house and external architects. They were surprised to see that they could get significant six-figure deals per project out of the gate”.

He also says the team was convinced early on that generative design is the future. “Rather than be software that can do what architects used to do on paper, the full power of modern day compute is put at the disposal of architects,” he told me. “The path to get there has been a bit like Deep Mind’s AlphaGo project — a myriad of different techniques, ML, AI, rules based optimisation etc. that jointly provide the most powerful result, rather than just ‘lets just throw the latest deep learning model at the project and see what sticks’ “.

“They were actually solving a problem, a problem that our customers were telling us that they wanted solved and liked the way they were solving it,” says Anagnost. “So it wasn’t just a great team with a great idea and some great technology, they actually solved the problem. And I think this is really important: You can play with technology all you like, but if you can’t find the intersection of either creating a whole new opportunity or market or solving an existing problem in a completely new and disruptive way, then you really haven’t created something useful. They’ve created something useful”.

“When we led Spacemaker’s Series A round less than two years ago, we saw a world-leading product and a company with the DNA to push the boundaries of what was possible in applying AI to architecture and property development,” says Atomico’s Ben Blume . “As the global leader in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) software, and with products that set the standard across the industry, Autodesk’s acquisition validates our belief that world-class AI products are being built here in Europe”.

Image Credits: Spacemaker

In building out the product iteratively, Northzone’s Kotting says the Spacemaker team “honed the art of ‘human in the loop’ “. “The generative design calculates the possible solution space, and the architect can then navigate that space and figure out interesting starting points and see the impact of design choices. So you can design something that is both beautiful/fit for purpose and optimal”.

He also doesn’t think the team would have been able to do that if it wasn’t for a combination of architectural talent and “bleeding-edge” software designers. This is where founding the company in Norway may have been an advantage. “It might not be so obvious you’d find a lot of those in Norway, but some of the hard-core optimisation problems in oil and gas are very similar to the Spacemaker problem, so it is actually a very fertile country for that,” adds Kotting.

The challenge then wasn’t Norway’s talent pool but persuading the most talented people to work for a startup. This is where Spacemaker’s mission, and Nordic culture more generally, was also a strength.

Reflects Haukeland: “What we experienced in the early days is that when you’re trying to solve such a hard problem, [with] such an ambitious journey, you need incredibly talented people who are able to get a lot of autonomy and solve problems, because there are so many problems you need to solve. And I think what we experienced in Norway four years ago was that a lot of the really good people went into either oil and gas or, you know, consulting. And what we saw was that people really want to join a mission where they can have a positive impact, and they can use their capacity and their talent and their brains to solve difficult problems. We were lucky to get so much incredible talent to join us because of that”.

Anagnost also cites Spacemaker’s culture and its European vantage-point as a differentiator. “This is a European high technology company using cutting-edge algorithms and approaches in the cloud and they start it from an ethical framework that might not be as common as startups in other places,” he tells me. “So if you were to ask me what was differentiating here, I think the ethical framework they’re coming in with this is, ‘we’re going to use this data to enable this audience to do a better job of what they do every day. And we’re going to do it in such a way that we’re partnering with the customers, and we’re also creating better outcomes, not just for them but for the whole ecosystem of stakeholders… and one of the stakeholders is the environment of the area. That ethos from a technology company, probably, you know, rose up faster in the European market than it might have in some of the U.S. markets where it’s more about, ‘let’s plow through things,’ and not so much about what is my ethical foundation here and what I’m trying to accomplish?”

However, with Europe’s current infatuation with unicorns — and a growing track record of producing companies valued at $1 billion dollars (or a lot more) — one legitimate question that can be asked is did the Norwegian startup sell too early?

“I think that’s a very VC-oriented perspective, because what it’s really about is, are they selling out earlier on the return for the VCs?” argues the Autodesk CEO. “I think if you look at it through the lens of what the employees and the company is trying to accomplish, they’re going to be able to accomplish more working closely inside of Autodesk than they would have, even if they continue to accept dollars and have their valuation increase. Maybe the VCs might see a smaller return, [but] I don’t think the employees are going to see a bigger net return to their vision. And if you’ve talked to these people, they’re very passionate about what they do”.

“Even though for our taste this exit comes early in the journey, we share the enthusiasm for achieving maximum impact fast, and have seen in the process how important Autodesk believes the Spacemaker product is in their future,” says Kotting.

Meanwhile, Haukeland maintains that Spacemaker has only built “5% of what can be built” and says the industry as a whole is at the beginning of a huge transformation in the way people work. “When you go from designing something and checking how it works to asking your computer for help and having the computer advising you on your shoulder, it’s really changing the game. That is such a fundamental change that it’s more than just putting a product out there. It’s really a shift that’s going to be changing the industry over the years”.

“We’re going to continue to encourage them and drive them to build out that product,” says Anagnost, “but they’re also going to have other avenues to extend their technology and other places where they can link their technology to parts of the Autodesk ecosystem”.

#atomico, #autodesk, #ben-blume, #europe, #exit, #fundings-exits, #ma, #northzone, #norway, #spacemaker, #startups, #tc

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Archaeologists Discover Viking Age Ship Burial in Norway

Using ground-penetrating radar, a team of archaeologists made the discovery in southeastern Norway. Once excavated, the findings could offer insight into Viking settlements.

#antiquity-journal, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #norway, #scandinavia, #vikings

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In the Arctic, Reindeer Are Sustenance and a Sacred Presence

For the Indigenous communities who herd the animals, safeguarding dying culinary traditions isn’t merely about eating but about protecting a longstanding way of life.

#agriculture-and-farming, #arctic-regions, #cooking-and-cookbooks, #finland, #food, #indigenous-people, #meat, #norway, #reindeer, #samis-ethnic-group, #sweden

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Norway’s Supreme Court Hears Rights Challenge to Arctic Oil Drilling

Environmental groups argue that exploratory drilling licenses violate a constitutional right to a healthy environment. It’s a test case taking on an industry that is key to the country’s economy.

#arctic-regions, #barents-sea, #constitutions, #drilling-and-boring, #global-warming, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #norway, #oil-petroleum-and-gasoline, #politics-and-government, #suits-and-litigation-civil

0

After Fleeing Poland, an Antiracism Activist Finds Refuge in Norway

A decision to grant asylum on political grounds highlights growing concerns over democratic backsliding in Poland.

#asylum-right-of, #gawel-rafal, #human-rights-and-human-rights-violations, #law-and-justice-poland, #norway, #poland

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What Scandinavians Can Teach Us About Embracing Winter

In the pandemic, rather than feeling depressed that the arrival of cold weather will mean you’ll be isolated indoors, try adopting a positive winter mind-set.

#arctic-regions, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #depression-mental, #happiness, #norway, #psychology-and-psychologists, #scandinavia, #weather, #winter-season

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Nobel Prize in Medicine Awarded to Scientists Who Discovered Hepatitis C Virus

Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice were jointly honored for their decisive contribution to the fight against blood-borne hepatitis, a major global health problem.

#medicine-and-health, #nobel-prizes, #norway, #your-feed-science

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First cruises to set sail post COVID-19 abruptly canceled due to outbreak

View of an iceberg and the Hurtigruten hybrid expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen on Half Moon island, Antarctica on November 09, 2019.

Enlarge / View of an iceberg and the Hurtigruten hybrid expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen on Half Moon island, Antarctica on November 09, 2019. (credit: Getty | JOHAN ORDONEZ)

At least 36 crew members and five passengers of the Norwegian cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Four of the infected crew members have been hospitalized and hundreds of passengers are in quarantine, awaiting test results.

MS Roald Amundsen is run by the Norwegian firm Hurtigruten, which in mid-June became the first cruise ship operator in the world to resume voyages amid the coronavirus pandemic. Hurtigruten assured travelers that it followed national public health guidelines and touted safety precautions for passengers on board, including social distancing, increased hygiene and sanitation protocols, and a vow to sail at no more than 50 percent capacity.

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#covid-19, #cruise-ship, #diamond-princess, #ms-roald-amundsen, #norway, #outbreak, #science

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Build products that improve the lives of inmates

Those of us who work in technology should always be asking ourselves, “Who we are really building for?” Do we design products to make ourselves more comfortable, or do we innovate to be the change in the world we want to see? One group perennially left out of tech conversations — moved out of sight and out of mind — is the 2.3 million people in the U.S. prison system. As tech becomes such a critical driver of progress in the world, we should be building products that improve inmates’ lives and help them reintegrate into society without the risk of relapse.

I recently stumbled across an essay I wrote following my work at the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, analyzing Norway’s humane prison systems and asking, “Could they work here?” These prisons are designed to replicate life outside their walls. They incorporate features like yoga classes and recording studios. They give inmates a chance to pursue higher education so that they can be meaningfully employed when they reenter the outside world. Anyone who has seen the documentary 13th knows that American prisons are very different. Why?

(Quick disclaimer: This is a fraught and emotional topic. It is hard to appreciate the complexity of incarceration and recidivism in a 1,000-word op-ed. I appreciate the input and forbearance of those with different perspectives.)

Writ-large, the corrections system has five goals:

  1. Punish offenders.
  2. Incapacitate them (keep them off the streets).
  3. Deter crime.
  4. Repay society.
  5. Rehabilitate people so that they don’t commit more crimes.

But sadly, per criminologist Bob Cameron, “Americans want their prisoners punished first and rehabilitated second.”

This is why Norway has a recidivism rate of 20% while the U.S. rate hovers at around 75%. That is staggering. Three out of every four former inmates is at-risk of committing a crime after leaving prison. This is a huge deadweight loss for society. How much lower could that rate be if we invested in prisoners’ potential? If we gave them the tools to seamlessly reenter the world? Is there a role for private, for-profit enterprises here, and if so, how could technology be used to help people exit the corrections system permanently?

What’s being done today

Most tech coverage just focuses on tools used to predict recidivism and keep past offenders, many of whom are trying to reform their lives, behind bars. But there are many startups building products to help them successfully move on.

New York-based APDS recently raised a $5 million Series B to provide tablets that inmates can use for learning purposes. The tablets are now in-use in 88 correctional facilities in 17 states. Inmates can use the software to learn English, get their GEDs or learn entrepreneurship. North Carolina startup Pokket helps inmates plan for life outside of prison in the six months leading up to their release date.

Mission: Launch is an organization that hosts demo days and hackathons for inmates. They teach financial literacy, entrepreneurship and community engagement. Hackathon participants so far have built an app to convert online messages from friends and family into written postcards for inmates (who are shut off from social media) and an app to help people leaving the corrections system to seal their records so that they can get hired again.

Maintaining connections with friends and loved ones outside of prison makes a significant difference when it comes to reentering society. Technology company Securus recently announced free messaging on its 290,000 tablets so that inmates can communicate with relatives without having to pay exorbitant fees. Prison Voicemail in the U.K. provides a cheap phone service that families can pay. In all cases when it comes to implementing technology to reduce recidivism, the financial burden should not fall on inmates, a captive population with limited agency and earning potential.

Prison Scholars, a nonprofit founded by a former inmate, teaches entrepreneurship to inmates and helps them create post-incarceration business plans. They estimate that inmates who receive education are 43% less likely to return to prison, an implied ROI of $18.36 to society for every dollar invested. Defy Ventures boasts of 82% employment for program graduates and a 7.2% recidivism rate. Other programs to teach digital literacy and coding, which make resources like textbooks and Wikipedia available offline, have found similar success.

There are many similar examples of tech and education directly lowering recidivism. But why stop here? What else could tech do to make an impact?

What we could still do

The U.S. spends $80 billion to keep inmates behind bars. This creates an enormous financial incentive for taxpayers to reduce recidivism. Two related questions need to be addressed: Can tech companies actually make money on products to improve the lives of those in the prison system? And should they?

To answer the first question — and at the risk of sounding crass — a very simplified business model could look like this: State governments pay companies somewhere between $0 and the cost of keeping an inmate in jail for one year (~$81,000) for each inmate who successfully uses an educational product to prep for leaving prison.

The payment could be split across multiple years, so that the longer someone is able to go without reoffending, the more the provider makes. If taxpayers paid tech providers just 50% of the cost to house an inmate for one year, the tech company would make a per-user LTV of over $40,000 (!). This kind of financial incentive could easily attract more talented entrepreneurs to the goal of improving the lives of people in the corrections system. (The opposite of the for-profit prison business model, which creates a perverse incentive to maintain a constant prison population.)

The question of whether it is morally permissible for for-profit tech companies to sell products built for this demographic is a more difficult one. While there is no right answer, there are guidelines that companies could follow:

  1. Don’t charge inmates or their families. Taxpayers have the largest financial incentive to reduce recidivism — and all the associated costs of the prison — so it is to state corrections budgets that tech companies should look for revenue opportunities.
  2. No Goodhart’s law or perverse incentives. Products have to be designed and sold based on principles, e.g., “help former inmates reintegrate into society and live full lives,” and not numeric targets, e.g., “keep former inmates from committing a felony within three years of leaving prison.” Numbers-based targets can always be gamed. Force companies to keep the end-goal in mind of giving people the tools to improve their lives.
  3. Collect user feedback. Award contracts only to the companies with high user affinity. Unlike standard consumers, inmates experience a principal/agent problem: The purchaser of the services (taxpayers) is not the user (the inmate). States should require tech providers to collect anonymous feedback from the users of their products, and only award contracts to those that get the highest ratings.
  4. Your product’s job-to-do does not end when the sentence does. If products built to reduce recidivism are truly successful, it means that the providers of those products will be slowly eliminating their own markets as prison populations go down. These products should be built not just to get people out of prison, but to help them build meaningful lives for the years after they leave.

There are so, so many great products yet to be built for this demographic. A LinkedIn or Craigslist Jobs equivalent populated by the employers who hire former inmates. Live-streamed religious services so that inmates can continue to participate in their community faith organizations. Nonvocational hobby education platforms. Limited versions of MasterClass or Udemy or Coursera . Closed-loop online games.

Lastly — and needless to say — tech doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface when it comes to righting the wrongs of our corrections system. The reinstatement of voting rights, employment on-ramps and limits to background checks, the elimination of for-profit private prisons, adjustments to prison wages that tacitly amount to indentured servitude … the list of things we could improve is long. But tech can still play a critical role in improving the lives of fellow citizens in the corrections system.

Mohandas Gandhi quipped that “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Almost one-third of Americans have some criminal history. The U.S. accounts for 25% of the world’s prison population. Let’s stop ignoring this demographic and build tools that really make the world better for those who need it most.

#column, #coursera, #craigslist, #crime, #defy-ventures, #developer, #diversity, #education, #government, #norway, #opinion, #policy, #prison, #recidivism, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states

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The Science of School Reopenings

Several countries have found ways to reopen schools safely. But can the United States?

#coronavirus-reopenings, #education-department-nyc, #greece, #new-york-city, #norway, #teachers-and-school-employees, #united-states

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eBay reportedly getting close to selling its classified-ads unit to Adevinta

eBay is reportedly getting close to a deal to sell its classified-ads business to Adevinta, a Norwegian company that runs online marketplaces across Europe and Latin America. According to a Wall Street Journal report, if the negotiations are successful, a cash and stock deal could be announced as soon as Monday. The transaction is expected to value eBay’s classified business at about $8 billion.

The Wall Street Journal first reported in February that eBay was planning to sell off its classifieds business, with prospective buyers named at that time including private equity firms TPG and Blackstone Group, Naspers, and German publisher Axel Springer SE.

More recently, Prosus NV, an Amsterdam-based investment firm that is controlled by Naspers, emerged as a contender, but Bloomberg reported over the weekend that negotiations hit a bump because eBay wants to maintain a stake in the classifieds business after selling it.

Activist shareholders Elliot Management and Starboard Value LP have pushed eBay to sell off non-core business units to focus on its marketplace, resulting in the sale of StubHub to viagogo for more than $4 billion last year and the appointment of a new chief executive officer.

Ebay’s classifieds division operates mostly outside of the United States, including in Canada, Europe, Africa, Australia and Mexico. If Adevinta ends up acquiring it, it can expand its international portfolio of peer-to-peer e-commerce platforms.

An Adevinta representative told TechCrunch the company had no comment on the reported negotiations. TechCrunch has also reached out to eBay.

Ebay said in its last quarterly earnings report, issued in April, that it was “explor[ing] potential value-creating alternatives for its Classifieds business, is holding active discussions with multiple parties and anticipates having an update by the middle of the year.”

During the first quarter of this year, eBay’s main marketplace business generated $2.1 billion in revenue, down, while its classifieds business saw $248 million in revenue. In 2019, the classifieds business made $1.1 billion in revenue, versus $7.6 billion for eBay Marketplace, which is weathering competition from larger online rivals like Amazon.

#adevinta, #classifieds, #ebay, #ecommerce, #europe, #fundings-exits, #marketplace, #norway, #tc

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Virus-Tracing Apps Are Rife With Problems. Governments Are Rushing to Fix Them.

As countries race to deploy coronavirus-tracking software, researchers are reporting privacy and security risks that could affect millions of people and undermine trust in public health efforts.

#amnesty-international, #computer-security, #contact-tracing-public-health, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #data-mining-and-database-marketing, #google-inc, #mobile-applications, #norway, #privacy, #qatar, #smittestopp-mobile-app, #surveillance-of-citizens-by-government

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Apple unveils iOS 14 and macOS Big Sur features for India, China and other international markets

Apple is rolling out a range of new features and improvements that are aimed at users in India, China and other international markets with its yearly updates to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS operating systems.

iOS 14, which will roll out to users later this year, introduces new bilingual dictionaries to support French and German; Indonesia and English; Japanese and Simplified Chinese; and Polish and English. For its users in China, one of Apple’s biggest overseas markets, the company said the new operating system will introduce support for Wubi keyboard.

For users in India, Apple is adding 20 new document fonts and upgrading 18 existing fonts with “more weights and italics” to give people greater choices. For those living in the world’s second largest internet market, Mail app now supports email addresses in Indian script.

Apple said it will also deliver a range of additional features for India, building on the big momentum it kickstarted last year.

Messages now feature corresponding full-screen effects when users send greetings such as “Happy Holi” in one of the 23 Indian local languages.

More interestingly, iOS 14 will include smart downloads, which will allow users in India to download Indian Siri voices and software updates as well as download and stream Apple TV+ shows over cellular networks — a feature that is not available elsewhere in the world.

The feature further addresses the patchy networks that are prevalent in India — despite major improvements in recent years. Last year, Apple enabled improved video downloading option for users in India, allowing them to set an optimized time of the day in video streaming apps such as Hotstar and Netflix for downloading videos.

New improvements further shows Apple’s growing focus on India, the world’s second largest smartphone market. Apple chief executive Tim Cook said earlier this year that the company would launch its online store in the country later this year, and open its first physical store next year.

iOS 14 will also allow users in Ireland and Norway to utillize the autocorrection feature as the new update supports Irish Gaelic and Norwegian Nynorsk. And there’s also a redesigned Kana keyboard for Japan, which will enable users to type numbers with repeated digits more easily on the redesigned Numbers and Symbols plane.

All the aforementioned features — except Mail getting support for email addresses in Indian script and smart downloads for India — will also ship with iPadOS 14. And the aforementioned new bilingual dictionaries, new fonts for India, and localized messages are coming to macOS Big Sur. Additionally, Apple says on the desktop operating system it has also enhanced predictive input for Chinese and Japanese results in more accurate and contextual predictions.

#apple, #asia, #china, #india, #indonesia, #ios, #ireland, #japan, #macos, #messages, #mobile, #netflix, #norway, #operating-systems, #siri

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Coronavirus Fears in China Find a New Target: Salmon

Suppliers and restaurants are scrambling after an outbreak in Beijing triggered fears that salmon may have spread it. Officials later absolved the fish of blame, but consumers are avoiding it anyway.

#beijing-china, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #faroe-islands, #norway, #restaurants, #salmon, #seafood

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Norway pulls its coronavirus contacts tracing app after privacy watchdog’s warning

One of the first national coronavirus contacts tracing apps to be launched in Europe is being suspended in Norway after the country’s data protection authority raised concerns that the software, called ‘Smittestopp’, poses a disproportionate threat to user privacy — including by continuously uploading people’s location.

Following a warning from the watchdog Friday, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said today it will stop uploading data from tomorrow — ahead of a June 23 deadline when the DPA had asked for use of the app to be suspended so that changes could be made. It added that it disagrees with the watchdog’s assessment but will nonetheless delete user data “as soon as possible”.

As of June 3, the app had been downloaded 1.6M times, and had around 600,000 active users, according to the FHI — which is just over 10% of Norway’s population; or around 14% of the population aged over 16 years.

“We do not agree with the Data Protection Agency’s assessment, but now we have to delete all data and pause work as a result of the notification,” said FHI director Camilla Stoltenberg in a statement [translated via Google Translate]. “With this, we weaken an important part of our preparedness for increased spread of infection, because we lose time in developing and testing the app. At the same time, we have a reduced ability to fight the spread of infection that is ongoing.

“The pandemic is not over. We have no immunity in the population, no vaccine, and no effective treatment. Without the Smittestopp app, we will be less equipped to prevent new outbreaks that may occur locally or nationally.”

Europe’s data protection framework allows for personal data to be processed for a pressing public health purpose — and Norway’s DPA had earlier agreed an app could be a suitable tool to combat the coronavirus emergency. Although the agency was not actively consulted during the app’s development, and had expressed reservations — saying it would closely monitor developments.

Developments that have led the watchdog to intervene are a low contagion rate in the country and a low download rate for the app — meaning it now takes the view that Smittestopp is no longer a proportionate intervention.

“We believe that FHI has not demonstrated that it is strictly necessary to use location data for infection detection,” said Bjørn Erik Thon, director of Norway’s DPA, in a statement posted on its website today.

Unlike many of the national coronavirus apps in Europe — which use only Bluetooth signals to estimate user proximity as a means of calculating exposure risk to COVID-19 — Norway’s app also tracks real-time GPS location data.

The country took the decision to track GPS before the European Data Protection Board — which is made up of representatives of DPAs across the EU — had put out guidelines, specifying that contact tracing apps “do not require tracking the location of individual users”; and suggesting the use of “proximity data” instead.

Additionally, Norway opted for a centralized app architecture, meaning user data is uploaded to a central server controlled by the health authority, instead of being stored locally on device — as is the case with decentralized coronavirus contacts tracing apps, such as the app being developed by Germany and one launched recently in Italy. (Apple and Google’s exposure notification API also exclusively supports decentralized app architectures.)

The FHI had been using what it describes as “anonymised” user data from the app to track movement patterns around the country — saying the data would be used to monitor whether restrictions intended to limit the spread of the virus (such as social distancing) were working as intended.

The DPA said today that it’s also unhappy users of the app have no ability to choose to grant permission only for coronavirus contacts tracing — but must also agree to their personal information being used for research purposes, contravening the EU data protection principle of purpose limitation.

Another objection it has is around how the app data was being anonymized and aggregated by the FHI — location data being notoriously difficult to robustly anonymize.

“It is FHI’s choice that they stop all data collection and storage right away. Now I hope they use the time until June 23 well, both to document the usefulness of the app and to make other necessary changes so that they can resume use,” said Thon. “The reason for the notification is the [DPA]’s assessment that Smittestopp can no longer be regarded as a proportionate encroachment on users’ basic privacy rights.”

“Smittestopp is a very privacy-intensive measure, even in an exceptional situation where society is trying to fight a pandemic. We believe that the utility is not present the way it is today, and that is how the technical solution is designed and working now,” he also said.

Commenting on the developments, Luca Tosoni, a research fellow at the University of Oslo’s Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law, suggested the Norway DPA’s decision could lead to similar bans on contacts tracing apps elsewhere in Europe — should contagion levels drop to a similarly low level. (And rates of COVID-19 continue declining across the region, at this stage.)

“To my knowledge, this is the first instance in which a European DPA has imposed a ban on a contact-tracing app already in use in light of national developments regarding contagion levels,” he told us. “It is thus possible that other European DPAs will impose similar bans in the future and demand that contact-tracing apps be changed as soon as contagion levels substantially decrease also in other parts of Europe. Norway has currently one of the lowest contagion levels in Europe.”

“The ban was not only related to the app’s use of GPS data. The latter was probably the most important feature of the app that the Norwegian DPA has criticised, but not the only one to be seen as problematic,” Tosoni added. “Another element that was criticised by the Norwegian DPA was that the app’s users are currently unable to consent only to the use of their their data for infection tracking purposes without consenting to their data being used also for research purposes.

“The DPA also questioned the accuracy of the app in light of the current low level of contagion in Norway, and criticised the absence of an appropriate solution for aggregating and anonymising the data collected.”

Tosoni said the watchdog is expected to reassess the app in the next few weeks, including assessing any changes proposed by the developer, but he takes the view that it’s unlikely the DPA would deem a switch to Bluetooth-only tracing to be sufficient for the app’s use of personal data proportionate.

Even so, the FHI said today it hopes users will suspend the app (by disabling its access to GPS and Bluetooth in settings), rather than deleting it entirely — so the software could be more easily reactivated in future should it be deemed necessary and legal.

#apps, #bluetooth, #contacts-tracing-apps, #coronavirus, #europe, #european-data-protection-board, #gps, #health, #norway, #privacy, #tc

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Archaeologists in Norway are about to dig up a Viking ship

If Scandinavian archaeology needed a logo, this outline would be a good one.

Enlarge / If Scandinavian archaeology needed a logo, this outline would be a good one. (credit: NIKU)

A ground-penetrating radar survey in 2018 found a 20-meter Viking ship buried just beneath the surface of a farmer’s field in Ostfold, Norway. At the time, archaeologists decided that the rare find was safest where it was. But recent analysis of a wood sample taken in 2019 reveals that although the ship looks remarkably well-preserved, it’s actually being eaten away by fungus. And that means it’s time for a rescue mission.

A Viking burial

The intended excavation is being led by archaeologist Jan Bill, curator of the Viking Ship Collection at Norway’s Museum of Cultural History, and his colleagues at the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU). When they start digging in June, they’ll be the first archaeologists in a century to excavate a Viking ship.

The site, called Gjellestad, is especially interesting—and especially complicated. It’s a ship from the period when Scandinavian seafarers were raiding and settling their way around the North Sea and Atlantic—but it’s also the tomb of a Norse ruler. “Ship graves of this size were built for persons from the uppermost echelons in society—we would tend to call them kings and queens today, possibly also jarls,” Bill told Ars.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

#archaeology, #grave-goods, #ground-penetrating-radar, #maritime-archaeology, #nautical-archaeology, #norway, #science, #ship-graves, #viking-age, #viking-ships, #vikings

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Two Months Later, the Iditarod Champion May Finally Get a Ride Home

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Thomas Waerner of Norway and his dogs have been stranded in Alaska after finishing the race on March 18.

#alaska, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dog-sledding, #dogs, #iditarod-trail-sled-dog-race-alaska, #norway, #quarantines, #waerner-thomas-1973

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A Mogul’s Wife Vanishes. Now Norway Has a National Obsession.

At first, the disappearance of the wife of one of the country’s richest people seemed to be an abduction. But then suspicion turned on the husband.

#bandidos-motorcycle-club, #hagen-anne-elisabeth-falkevik, #hagen-tom, #kidnapping-and-hostages, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #norway, #oslo-norway

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How will Europe’s coronavirus contacts tracing apps work across borders?

A major question mark attached to national coronavirus contacts tracing apps is whether they will function when citizens of one country travel to another. Or will people be asked to download and use multiple apps if they’re traveling across borders?

Having to use multiple apps when travelling would further complicate an unproven technology which seeks to repurpose standard smartphone components for estimating viral exposure — a task for which our mobile devices were never intended.

In Europe, where a number of countries are working on smartphone apps that use Bluetooth radios to try to automate some contacts tracing by detecting device proximity, the interoperability challenge is particularly pressing, given the region is criss-crossed with borders. Although, in normal times, European Union citizens can all but forget they exist thanks to agreements intended to facilitate the free movement of EU people in the Schengen Area.

Currently, with many EU countries still in degrees of lockdown, there’s relatively little cross border travel going on. But the European Commission has been focusing attention on supporting the tourism sector during the coronavirus crisis — proposing a tourism & transport package this week which sets out recommendations for a gradual and phased lifting of restrictions.

Once Europeans start traveling again, the effectiveness of any national contacts tracing apps could be undermined if systems aren’t able to talk to each other. In the EU, this could mean, for example, a French citizen who travels to Germany for a business trip — where they spend time with a person who subsequently tests positive for COVID — may not be warned of the exposure risk. Or indeed, vice versa.

In the UK, which remains an EU member until the end of this year (during the Brexit transition period), the issue is even more pressing — given Ireland’s decision to opt for a decentralized app architecture for its national app. Over the land border in Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, the national app would presumably be the centralized system that’s being devised by the UK’s NHSX. And the NHSX’s CEO has admitted this technical division presents a specific challenge for the NHS COVID-19 app.

There are much broader questions over how useful (or useless) digital contacts tracing will prove to be in the fight against the coronavirus. But it’s clear that if such apps don’t interoperate smoothly in a multi-country region such as Europe there will be additional, unhelpful gaps opening up in the data.

Any lack of cross-border interoperability will, inexorably, undermine functionality — unless people given up travelling outside their own countries for good.

EU interoperability as agreed goal

EU Member States recognize this, and this week agreed to a set of interoperability guidelines for national apps — writing that: “Users should be able to rely on a single app independently of the region or Member State they are in at a certain moment.”

The full technical detail of interoperability is yet to be figured out — “to ensure the operationalisation of interoperability as soon as possible”, as they put it.

But the intent is to work together so that different apps can share a minimum of data to enable exposure notifications to keep flowing as Europeans travel around the region, as (or once) restrictions are lifted. 

Whatever the approach taken with approved apps, all Member States and the Commission consider that interoperability between these apps and between backend systems is essential for these tools to enable the tracing of cross-border infection chains,” they write. “This is particularly important for cross-border workers and neighbouring countries. Ultimately, this effort will support the gradual lifting of border controls within the EU and the restoration of freedom of movement. These tools should be integrated with other tools contemplated in the COVID-19 contact tracing strategy of each Member State.”

European users should be able to expect interoperability. But whether smooth cross-border working will happen in practice remains a major question mark. Getting multiple different health systems and apps that might be calculating risk exposure in slightly different ways to interface and share the relevant bits of data in a secure way is itself a major operational and technical challenge.

However this is made even more of a headache given ongoing differences between countries over the core choice of app architecture for their national coronavirus contacts tracing.

This boils down to a choice of either a decentralized or centralized approach — with decentralized protocols storing and processing data locally on smartphones (i.e. the matching is done on device); and centralized protocols that upload exposure data and perform matching on a central server which is controlled by a national authority, such as a health service.

While there looks to be clear paths for interoperability between different decentralized protocols — here, for example, is a detailed discussion document written by backers of different decentralized protocols on how proximity tracing systems might interoperate across regions — interoperability between decentralized and centralized protocols, which are really polar opposite approaches, looks difficult and messy to say the least.

And that’s a big problem if we want digital contacts tracing to smoothly take place across borders.

(Additionally, some might say that if Europe can’t agree on a common way forward vis-a-vis a threat that affects all the region’s citizens it does not reflect well on the wider ‘European project’; aka the Union to which many of the region’s countries belong. But health is a Member State competence, meaning the Commission has limited powers in this area.)

In the eHealth Network ‘Interoperability guidelines’ document Member States agree that interoperability should happen regardless of which app architecture a European country has chosen.

But a section on cross-border transmission chains can’t see a way forward on how exactly to do that yet [emphasis ours] — i.e. beyond general talk of the need for “trusted and secure” mechanisms:

Solutions should allow Member States’ servers to communicate and receive relevant keys between themselves using a trusted and secure mechanism.

Roaming users should upload their relevant proximity encounter information to the home country backend. The other Member State(s) should be informed about possible infected or exposed users*.

*For roaming users, the question of to which servers the relevant proximity contacts details should be sent will be further explored during technical discussions. Interoperability questions will also be explored in relation to how a users’ app should behave after confirmed as COVID-19 positive and the possible need for a confirmation of infection free.

Conversely, the 19 academics behind the proposal for interoperability of different decentralized contacts tracing protocols, do include a section at the end of the document discussing how, in theory, such systems could plug into ‘alternatives’: aka centralized systems.

But it’s thick with privacy caveats.

Privacy risks of crossing system streams

The academics warn that while interoperability between decentralized and centralized systems “is possible in principle, it introduces substantial privacy concerns” — writing that, on the one hand, decentralized systems have been designed specifically to avoid the ability of an central authority being able to recover the identity of users; and “consequently, centralized risk calculation cannot be used without severely weakening the privacy of users of the decentralized system”.

While, on the other, if decentralized risk calculation is used as the ‘bridge’ to achieve interoperability between the two philosophically opposed approaches — by having centralized systems “publish a list of all decentralized ephemeral identifiers it believes to be at risk of infection due to close proximity with positive-tested users of the centralized system” — then it would make it easier for attackers to target centralized systems with reidentification attacks of any positive-tested users. So, again, you get additional privacy risks.

“In particular, each user of the decentralized system would be able to recover the exact time and place they were exposed to the positive-tested individual by comparing their list of recorded ephemeral identifiers which they emitted with the list of ephemeral identifiers published by the server,” they write, specifying that the attack would reveal in which “15 minute” an app user was exposed to a COVID-positive person.

And while they concede there’s a similar risk of reidentification attacks against all forms of decentralized systems, they contend this is more limited — given that decentralized protocol design is being used to mitigate this risk “by only recording coarse timing information”, such as six-hour intervals.

So, basically, the argument is there’s a greater chance that you might only encounter one other person in a 15 minute interval (and therefore could easily guess who might have given you COVID) vs a six-hour window. Albeit, with populations likely to continue to be encouraged to stay at home as much as possible for the foreseeable future, there is still a chance a user of a decentralized system might only pass one other person over a larger time interval too.

As trade offs go, the argument made by backers of decentralized systems is they’re inherently focused on the risks of reidentification — and actively working on ways to mitigate and limit those risks by system design — whereas centralized systems gloss over that risk entirely by assuming trust in a central authority to properly handle and process device-linked personal data. Which is of course a very big assumption.

While such fine-grained details may seem incredibly technical for the average user to need to digest, the core associated concern for coronavirus apps generally — and interoperability specifically — is that users need to be able to trust apps to use them.

So even if a person trusts their own government to handle their sensitive health data, they may be less inclined to trust another country’s government. Which means there could be some risk that centralized systems operating within a mutli-country region such as Europe might end up polluting the ‘trust well’ for these apps more generally — depending on exactly how they’re made to interoperate with decentralized systems.

The latter are designed so users don’t have to trust an authority to oversee their personal data. The former are absolutely not. So it’s really chalk and cheese.

Ce n’est pas un problème?

At this point, momentum among EU nations has largely shifted behind decentralized protocols for coronavirus contacts tracing apps. As previously reported, there has been a major battle between different EU groups supporting opposing approaches. And — in a key shift — privacy concerns over centralized systems being associated with governmental ‘mission creep’ and/or a lack of citizen trust appear to have encouraged Germany to flip to a decentralized model.

Apple and Google’s decision to support decentralized systems for the contacts tracing API they’re jointly developing, and due to release later this month (sample code is out already), has also undoubtedly weighted the debate in favor of decentralized protocols. 

Not all EU countries are aligned at this stage, though. Most notably France remains determined to pursue a centralized system for coronavirus contacts tracing.

As noted above, the UK has also been building an app that’s designed to upload data to a central server. Although it’s reportedly investigating switching to a decentralized model in order to be able to plug into the Apple and Google API — given technical challenges on iOS associated with background Bluetooth access.

Another outlier is Norway — which has already launched a centralized app (which also collects GPS data — against Commission and Member States’ own recommendations that tracing apps should not harvest location data).

High level pressure is clearly being applied, behind the scenes and in public, for EU Member States to agree on a common approach for coronavirus contacts tracing apps. The Commission has been urging this for weeks. Even as French government ministers have preferred to talk in public about the issue as a matter of technological sovereignty — arguing national governments should not have their health policy decisions dictated to them by U.S. tech giants.

“It is for States to chose their architecture and requests were made to Apple to enable both [centralized and decentralized systems],” a French government spokesperson told us late last month.

While there may well be considerable sympathy with that point of view in Europe, there’s also plenty of pragmatism on display. And, sure, some irony — given the region markets itself regionally and globally as a champion of privacy standards. (No shortage of op-eds have been penned in recent weeks on the strange sight of tech giants seemingly schooling EU governments over privacy; while veteran EU privacy advocates have laughed nervously to find themselves fighting in the same camp as data-mining giant Google.)

Commission EVP Margrethe Vestager could also be heard on BBC radio this week suggesting she wouldn’t personally use a coronavirus contacts tracing app that wasn’t built atop a decentralized app architecture. Though the Brexit-focused UK government is unlikely to have an open ear for the views of Commission officials, even piped through establishment radio news channels.

The UK may be forced to listen to technological reality though, if it’s workaround for iOS Bluetooth background access proves as flakey as analysis suggests. And it’s telling that the NHSX is funding parallel work on an app that could plug into the Apple-Google API, per reports in the FT, which would mean abandoning the centralized architecture.

Which leaves France as the highest profile hold-out.

In recent weeks a team at Inria, the government research agency that’s been working on its centralized ROBERT coronavirus contacts tracing protocol, proposed a third way for exposure notifications — called DESIRE — which was billed as an evolution of the approach “leveraging the best of centralized and decentralized systems”.

The new idea is to add a new secret cryptographically generated key to the protocol, called Private Encounter Tokens (PETs), which would encode encounters between users — as a way to provide users with more control over which identifiers they disclose to a central server, and thereby avoid the system harvesting social graph data.

“The role of the server is merely to match PETs generated by diagnosed users with the PETs provided by requesting users. It stores minimal pseudonymous data. Finally, all data that are stored on the server are encrypted using keys that are stored on the mobile devices, protecting against data breach on the server. All these modifications improve the privacy of the scheme against malicious users and authority. However, as in the first version of ROBERT, risk scores and notifications are still managed and controlled by the server of the health authority, which provides high robustness, flexibility, and efficacy,” the Inria team wrote in the proposal. 

The DP-3T consortium, backers of an eponymous decentralized protocol that’s gained widespread backing from governments in Europe — including Germany’s, followed up with a “practical assessment” of Inria’s proposal — in which they suggest the concept makes for “a very interesting academic proposal, but not a practical solution”; given limitations in current mobile phone Bluetooth radios and, more generally, questions around scalability and feasibility. (tl;dr this sort of idea could take years to properly implement and the coronavirus crisis hardly involves the luxury of time.)

The DP-3T analysis is also heavily skeptical that DESIRE could be made to interoperate with either existing centralized or decentralized proposals — suggesting a sort of ‘worst of both words’ scenario on the cross-border functionality front. So, er…

One person familiar with EU Member States’ discussions about coronavirus tracing apps and interoperability, who briefed TechCrunch on condition of anonymity, also suggested the DESIRE proposal would not fly given its relative complexity (vs the pressing need to get apps launched soon if they are to be of any use in the current pandemic). This person also pointed to question marks over required bandwidth and impact on device battery life. For DESIRE to work they suggested it would need universal uptake by all Europe’s governments — and every EU nation agreeing to adopt a French proposal would hardly carry the torch for nation state sovereignty.

What France does with its tracing app remains a key unanswered question. (An earlier planned debate on the issue in its parliament was shelved.) It is a major EU economy and, where interoperability is concerned, simple geography makes it a vital piece of the Western European digital puzzle, given it has land borders (and train links into) a large number of other countries.

We reached out to the French government with questions about how it proposes to make its national coronavirus contacts tracing app interoperable with decentralized apps that are being developed elsewhere across the EU — but at the time of writing it had not responded to our email.

This week in a video interview with BFM Business, the president of Inria, Bruno Sportisse, was reported to have expressed hope that the app will be able to interoperate by June — but also said in an interview that if the project is unsuccessful “we will stop it”.

“We’re working on making those protocols interoperable. So it’s not something that is going to be done in a week or two,” Sportisse also told BFM (translated from French by TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet). “First, every country has to develop its own application. That’s what every country is doing with its own set of challenges to solve. But at the same time we’re working on it, and in particular as part of an initiative coordinated by the European Commission to make those protocols interoperable or to define new ones.”

One thing looks clear: Adding more complexity further raises the bar for interoperability. And development timeframes are necessarily tight.

The pressing imperatives of a pandemic crisis also makes talk of technological sovereignty sound a bit of, well, a bourgeois indulgence. So France’s ambition to single-handedly define a whole new protocol for every nation in Europe comes across as simultaneously tone-deaf and flat-footed — perhaps especially in light if Germany’s swift U-turn the other way.

In a pinch and a poke, European governments agreeing to coalesce around a common approach — and accepting a quick, universal API fix which is being made available at the smartphone platform level — would also offer a far clearer message to citizens. Which would likely help engender citizen trust in and adoption of national apps — that would, in turn, given the apps a greater chance of utility. A pan-EU common approach might also feed tracing apps’ utility by yielding fewer gaps in the data. The benefits could be big.

However, for now, Europe’s digital response to the coronavirus crisis looks messier than that — with ongoing wrinkles and questions over how smoothly different nationals apps will be able to work together as countries opt to go their own way.

#api, #apple, #apps, #bluetooth, #contacts-tracing-apps, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #decentralization, #decentralized-systems, #desire, #dp-3t, #europe, #european-commission, #european-union, #france, #germany, #google, #health, #inria, #interoperability, #ireland, #margrethe-vestager, #nhsx, #northern-ireland, #norway, #privacy, #smartphones, #uk-government, #united-kingdom

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Did Closing Schools Actually Help?

Researchers have a plan to find out.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #education-k-12, #norway, #shutdowns-institutional

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In the Coronavirus Crisis, True Leaders Stand Out

Swift action, compassion and trust in science mark the most effective responses to the coronavirus.

#ardern-jacinda, #australia, #conte-giuseppe, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #denmark, #europe, #european-union, #frederiksen-mette, #greece, #iceland, #ireland, #italy, #jakobsdottir-katrin, #marin-sanna, #merkel-angela, #mitsotakis-kyriakos, #morrison-scott-1968, #new-zealand, #norway, #politics-and-government, #solberg-erna, #south-korea, #taiwan, #tests-medical

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A Scramble for Virus Apps That Do No Harm

Dozens of tracking apps for smartphones are being used or developed to help contain the coronavirus pandemic. But there are worries about privacy and hastily written software.

#apple-inc, #burgum-douglas, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #google-inc, #great-britain, #karnataka-india, #maharashtra-india, #mobile-applications, #north-dakota, #norway, #privacy, #smartphones, #software, #surveillance-of-citizens-by-government

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Wealthy Norwegian Businessman Charged With Murdering Missing Wife

The authorities have announced that the kidnapping of Anne-Elisabeth Hagen may have been fabricated by her husband, Tom Hagen, one of Norway’s wealthiest businessmen.

#hagen-elizabeth, #hagen-tom, #kidnapping-and-hostages, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #norway, #oslo-norway

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Coronavirus Threatens Press Freedom Around the World, Report Says

The United States, which ranked 45th out of 180 countries and territories, and Brazil were becoming models of hostility toward the news media, according to the World Press Freedom Index.

#africa, #china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #europe, #freedom-of-speech-and-expression, #freedom-of-the-press, #news-and-news-media, #norway, #politics-and-government, #reporters-without-borders, #surveillance-of-citizens-by-government, #united-states

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The Deadly Losharik Submarine Fire and Russia’s Secret Undersea Agenda

Few want to talk about how 14 sailors met their deaths on a Russian engineering marvel. Fewer still want to talk about what they were doing off Norway’s waters.

#arctic-regions, #defense-and-military-forces, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #norway, #russia, #submarines-and-submersibles, #united-states, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces

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Melting Ice Reveals Ancient Viking Route in Norway

Melting ice has receded from a mountain pass, unearthing pelts, shoes and stone structures from thousands of years ago.

#alps-mountains, #archaeology-and-anthropology, #cambridge-university, #glaciers, #global-warming, #norway, #research, #scandinavia

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Missives from My Locked-Down Friends, From Siberia to Samarkand

The people I met as the 52 Places Traveler were suddenly just as close as my friends down the street, so I reached out to my global community.

#aalborg-denmark, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #falkland-islands, #gambia, #georgia-georgian-republic, #italy, #lake-baikal-russia, #norway, #orcas-island-wash, #panama, #puerto-rico, #south-island-new-zealand, #travel-and-vacations, #tunisia, #uzbekistan

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Myriota raises $19.3 million to expand its IoT satellite constellation

Internet of things satellite connectivity startup Myriota has raises a $19.3 million Series B funding round, led by Hostplus and Main Sequence Ventures, with additional funding from Boeing, former Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull, Singtel Innov8 and others. The company has now raised $37 million in Funding, and has four satellites on orbit already, with a plan to expand that to 25 by 2022 with the help of this new funding.

Myriota provides low-cost, power efficient direct satellite connectivity for IoT uses, including industrial applications like equipment monitoring and measurement of environmental measures like groundwater levels. The Adelaide-based company has developed its own proprietary low-over iOT communications technology, that claims big advantages over existing solutions in terms of battery life, security, scalability and cost.

With this new funding, it also hopes to expand headcount, adding 50 percent more employees over the course of the next two years, with a focus on expanding globally to provider service to more international markets. It’s also going to concentrate on building out product to enable real-time reporting across all its offerings.

Already, Myriota has begun its expansion plans with a new acquisition of assets from another space tech company, Canada’s exactEarth. The company has purchased four satellites on orbit from the company and brought on new employees as well as six ground stations located in new international locations, including in Canada, the U.S., Norway, Singapore, Panama and Antarctica.

In total, Myriota has a goal of building out a constellation of 50 IoT satellites to provide global scale and service.

#aerospace, #antarctica, #articles, #boeing, #canada, #internet-of-things, #norway, #panama, #satellite, #singapore, #singtel, #singtel-innov8, #space, #startups, #tc, #technology, #united-states

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