It’s a tough time for all of us as we cope with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s even tougher for children.
As the father of a teenage girl who is entering college this year, I’m proud of how she has shown resilience in the face of all these changes. It’s not easy for this batch of students. They are the first batch to experience attending a virtual high school graduation ceremony.
Instead of enjoying the summer break, they have been cooped up in their homes. And now they won’t even experience a “normal” college life as they will reach this milestone virtually – at least for this year.
This year, the United Nations will celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8 with an all-day virtual event. It will be capped by an online concert featuring live performances from musicians around the world.
Produced in partnership with the non-profit organization Oceanic Global, UN World Oceans Day 2020 will feature keynote speeches, panels, and presentations with leading ocean voices. The 2020 theme is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”.
The speakers include Cara Delevingne, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Sylvia Earle, Forbi Perise Eyong Nyosai, Bill McKibben, Ellie Goulding, Gayatri Reksodihardjo-Lilley, and Lilly Platt.
Even without the current COVID-19 global pandemic, the global healthcare system is under tremendous strain. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a remarkable report on April 6. WHO has warned that the world needs at least 5.9 million additional nurses to meet global health targets. This is a staggering shortfall, indeed. Technology, however, may be coming to the rescue with the deployment of collaborative robots, or cobots, in the healthcare industry.
Unlike their heavy and large industrial robot cousins, cobots are nimbler and more user-friendly. As their name suggests, they are designed to work together with humans, rather than replacing them.
“Universal Robots is focused on how we can reduce the pain and suffering that has become part of our world since the evolution of COVID-19. Hence we would prefer never to sell a robot due to the pandemic. However, we are working hard on how we can support anyone in this field to fight back against this virus. We have in the past and will continue to see cobots used in healthcare, used to help people live longer and stronger lives — that will always be a focus,” Darrell Adams, Head, Southeast Asia & Oceania of Universal Robots (UR), told Digital Life Asia.
Founded in 2005 by three university students in Denmark, UR was the first company to deliver commercially viable cobots. Its mission is to make the world a better place, one cobot at a time.
Scientists have not yet identified the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. What we do know, however, is that the wildlife trade increases the risk of spreading zoonotic diseases. Do we want to reduce the threat of future outbreaks? Then we must take a serious look at the dangers posed by the wildlife trade.
Richard Thomas, head of communications for TRAFFIC, was the speaker in a webinar on April 23. TRAFFIC is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. Internews and its Earth Journalism Network held the webinar to provide more information on zoonotic diseases. Thomas discussed the role of the wildlife trade and the possible origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I asked Thomas what we can do to combat misinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the origins of COVID-19. After all, what has made this pandemic worse is that it has been accompanied by an infodemic and fake news. Thomas, by the way, spearheaded the response to the H5N1 bird flu virus (also called avian influenza) outbreak in 2006 and 2007.
Amid the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to take care of both our physical and mental health. Through telepsychiatry, a father and daughter have been addressing the needs of their patients in the age of social distancing and lockdowns.
As all of us can attest to, dealing with the pandemic and the sweeping changes in the way we work and play has been very stressful.
“This sudden change in the daily routine can cause depression and anxiety. Other than this, the fear of getting the virus can also add to the stress,” psychiatrist Ruby Jade Lee-Cheng told Digital Life Asia.
Lee-Cheng, together with her father and fellow psychiatrist Paul V. Lee, offers online consultations via their Talk to Dr. Lee site. Note that these online consultations are not for emergency cases, which should be handled by going to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Not too long ago, many considered Elon Musk‘s SpaceX a joke. Today it made history with NASA. The company successfully launched the SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.
For the first time, NASA astronauts have launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft. SpaceX Crew Dragon is now on its way to the International Space Station.
“Today a new era in human spaceflight begins as we once again launched American astronauts on American rockets from American soil on their way to the International Space Station, our national lab orbiting Earth,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a press statement.
Thanks to technology, speech-language pathologist Krizia Anna Castro is still able to help children with special needs. Castro is offering teletherapy services since face-to-face sessions are not possible due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Teletherapy refers to remote therapy, using technology so that the therapist and client can communicate. Castro said this usually involves video platforms such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, or FaceTime. Apart from convenience, teletherapy offers other advantages.
“It stresses the importance of family involvement and contribution. They need to understand that teletherapy is not going to be the same as a face-to-face session but is mostly parent coaching. Activities will be mostly facilitated by the parents, especially with younger children. Unlike with face-to-face sessions wherein they leave their children with us while they stay in the waiting area, this time they are required to be there. Parents are going to be our eyes and hands during the session. They have to learn the techniques, and how to manage their child’s behavior. Now parents have a better understanding of their children’s needs because they are much more involved,” Castro told Digital Life Asia.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine, many of us are staying home and spending more time online. What if we could use all that screen time to help solve the climate crisis?
Stockholm-based WeDontHaveTime AB (publ) is a startup crowdfunded by over 550 investors from 15 different countries. This Swedish company operates We Don’t Have Time, which seeks to harness the power of social media to find solutions for the climate crisis.
People can join this social network free of charge, where they can create climate actions and collaborate with other users. By building a community of climate heroes from all over the world, We Don’t Have Time members can influence companies, organizations, and public figures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation. Unfortunately, governments are also using the crisis as an excuse to intensify the assault on press freedom, continuing the global trend toward authoritarianism.
“Unfortunately, in the COVID era the threat to journalists has only increased. Authoritarian governments have capitalized on the moment to take even more draconian measures to suppress the truth. And this virus shows that it is not only lethal to democratic rule. This can also be deadly to individuals,” Amal Clooney said.
A barrister who specializes in international law and human rights, Clooney was one of the speakers at IBM’s Think Digital conference. The conference does not just focus on technology solutions. It also takes a look at the impact of digital transformation and the COVID-19 pandemic on society.
The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to stay home. But that won’t stop millions of climate activists around the world from holding digital climate strikes.
April 22 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and this year Earth Day is going digital. One of these digital initiatives is Earth Day Live. The US Climate Strike Coalition and Stop The Money Pipeline Coalition are organizing this three-day live stream on April 22-24. Earth Day Live will enable millions of people to join activists, celebrities, musicians, and more in the online mobilization.
“The fights against the coronavirus and the climate crisis go hand-in-hand. As we work to flatten the curve of this pandemic, we must strive toward the longer term goal of building a society that is better equipped to confront another global threat: the climate emergency. Earth Day Live is a chance for humanity to come together and begin to collectively reimagine the society, economy, and political system we need to confront the challenges ahead of us,” Nadia Nazar, Co-Executive Director and Art Director of coalition member Zero Hour, said in a press statement.