Google and Apple block update to England’s contact-tracing app over privacy violation

An update to NHS’s COVID-19 app has been blocked by Apple and Google for violating their location data collection rules.

Source: Google and Apple block update to England’s contact-tracing app over privacy violation

Some time back I wrote about the digital contact tracing efforts being made by a variety of public and private institutions. The endeavour, fraught with privacy considerations, has yet to truly prove its potential – little evidence of the efficacy of the approach has been gathered. In an effort to change this, the UK government has recently attempted to release an update to their app, built upon the Apple/Google framework, in lockstep with a change in the nation’s COVID policy. The app would begin to gather and store geographic tracking data to enable authorities to better respond to outbreaks as citizens break free of a long lockdown to socialise in outdoor eateries and pubs. This move however has met resistance from both Apple and Google, who are thankfully taking users’ privacy very seriously.

Epics: the raw materials for scaled agile

The various scaled agile frameworks make use of some common building blocks which many practitioners will be familiar with. Stories are often the most familiar, as they are the raw material of the SCRUM and Kanban practices which have been applied at the team/squad level for many years, particularly in technical teams. However, in the process of scaling these practices a need for larger aggregations of work was needed, and in response to this need, emerged epics.

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On privacy and contact tracing

Contact tracing, the process by which health authorities can identify those at risk of infection by virtue of proximity to a known case of a virus, has long been a pillar of pandemic response. With radio-enabled mobile devices now globally ubiquitous, it comes as little surprise to see that they are playing a role in the evolution of contact tracing methods.

Contact tracing is only as effective as its scale. The ability to evaluate only small proportions of an at-risk population will ultimately undermine any contact tracing system, manual or digital. As early attempts to develop contact tracing apps launched around the globe, technical limitations, privacy concerns and poor assumptions about adoption rates undermined almost all efforts. Into this mess stepped Apple and Google, together responsible for the software, and to a lesser extent hardware, which power the majority of our mobile devices.

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The urban impact of 5G

The next generation of mobile broadband data network is being discussed in almost every context you can imagine, from technology to healthcare to sociology to urbanism. 5G is coming. But what is it, what does it enable, and how is it relevant to the citizens of urban places? And therefore, what does it mean to those designing and moulding the cities in which we live?

5G will replace or augment your existing 4G connection, providing exponentially greater bandwidth alongside massively reduced latency – the time it takes for data to get from A to B.

5G operates across a broad range of frequency spectrums. Lower frequency ranges (below 6GHz) provide a more reliable signal but are limited in their bandwidth. These ranges are nearing saturation in many cases from overloading of existing 4G networks. 5G also leverages higher frequency spectrums, which provide massively increased data rates and much lower latency, but which are quite limited in their ability to penetrate buildings, and the coverage area for a single antenna is limited, thus necessitating much larger numbers of antennae to achieve uniform and reliable coverage.

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