This Drone Maker Is Swooping In Amid US Pushback Against DJI


A spokesperson for DJI said its products don’t send customer data to China and cited the results of a recent security audit by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton. It discovered some security vulnerabilities in DJI’s drones, which the company says it is addressing, but no evidence of connections to China. DJI argues that it would be better to require all drone vendors to meet defined security standards than to ban some companies based purely on their country of origin.

The Chinese company’s chances of escaping US government restrictions seem slim amid bipartisan support for legislation on foreign drones. Ulrike Franke, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, says the US campaign against DJI resembles that against telecoms provider Huawei in its breadth and its influence on US allies in Europe.

Skydio’s willingness to capitalize on DJI’s troubles is a reminder that despite Silicon Valley’s perceived disdain of government and recent protests at some companies against defense contracts, the tech industry remains entangled with the US government and military. A database of tech industry government contracts released by the nonprofit Tech Inquiry last week shows Skydio has deals worth at least $7 million, including with the Air Force, Army, and DEA.

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The WIRED Guide to Drones

These tiny flyers are going to fill the skies, transforming entire industries for the better—and worse.

Skydio was founded in 2014 and makes its drones near its offices in Redwood City, a short drone flight from Facebook’s home in Menlo Park. Bry says he chose to manufacture in Silicon Valley, one of the country’s most expensive locales, because making its drones smarter required tight integration between their hardware and onboard AI. That makes Skydio’s drones pricier—it’s first model released in 2018 was $2,499—but has more recently become important to government customers suspicious of China.

Other drone makers are working on autonomous flying too, including DJI, but Skydio has prioritized the technology, saying it’s needed for drones to become widely used. On its latest models, the onboard software uses video from six 4K navigation cameras, three on top and three underneath, and a powerful processor from chip company Nvidia to build a 3D model of the drone’s surroundings and avoid crashes.

Skydio’s software can also recognize that a person or people are in the frame and can follow one person in particular by tracking their shape and motion, not any identifying characteristics. One of Skydio’s consumer drones had no trouble zipping along behind a WIRED reporter jogging erratically around Skydio’s rear yard. The aerial gadget weaved easily around trees and other obstacles before landing smoothly in Bry’s outstretched hand.

More drones in the hands of businesses and government would be good for Skydio, but some people wonder if it would be bad for society.

Skydio drones with “POLICE” stickers are used by cops in Chula Vista, California, which last week won FAA approval to fly beyond an operator’s line of sight. Police drones were common at many recent protests in US cities against racist policing. Democratic state lawmakers in New York were spurred to introduce a bill to ban police drones at demonstrations and concerts and to require a warrant for any law enforcement use of the technology. The New York Civil Liberties Union has praised the legislation, saying that, like other surveillance technologies, they are most often directed at vulnerable communities and covertly expand government power.

Unsurprisingly, Bry is comfortable with police drones but says he recognizes such concerns. “The more we expand beyond consumers the more potential there is for really positive impact, but it comes with the potential for misuse and abuse,” he says. The company is working on a set of ethical principles for use of drones to be released this summer, he says, covering topics including privacy and community engagement.



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Women’s health and rights: 25 years of progress?

The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action remains the world’s most progressive blueprint for advancing gender equality worldwide. Twenty-five years after it was affirmed by 189 countries, what progress has been made in raising this blueprint
off the page?

On International Women’s Day the World Health Organization, United Nations University – International Institute for Global Health and the British Medical Journal have launched a special series marking ‘Beijing 25’.

It shines a spotlight on health, education, environment, work and other critical foundations of life as they empower or restrict the rights and well-being of girls and women.

Women’s rights are human rights

Every person’s right to control their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health is linked to their human rights. This makes sexual and reproductive health and rights a cornerstone of the Beijing strategy: both as a driver towards gender equality,
and a fundamental part of it.

The first article in the series, ‘25 years after the Beijing Declaration we need to reaffirm that women’s rights are human rights,’ highlights recent advances in gender equality and celebrates
the rise of a new and determined generation of activists, working together to empower girls and women.  

It also expresses concern that progress has been superficial and not fast enough. Some critical areas of work have slowed or even been pushed back, such as comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, services and rights.

The authors ask for increased and direct investment in women and girls, to meet their specific health needs and accelerate equal rights for all.

Uneven progress in sexual and reproductive health and rights

The Beijing Declaration affirms that the human rights of women cannot be separated from the universal human rights of every person – but that without concrete actions to strengthen them, they will remain rights in name only.  

Some advances in this area since 1995 can be measured by health outcomes, including a reduction in both maternal mortality and rates of female genital mutilation. Positive change is also reflected in public awareness: concepts of period poverty and sexual
harassment, once taboo, are being taken up in day-to-day language.

And yet today, sexual and reproductive health conditions remain one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity for women and girls. Violence against women and girls is the most frequent human rights abuse worldwide.

Twenty-five years on, the Beijing agenda is still relevant and still unfinished.

Defending the defenders of women’s health and rights

Although The Platform for Action is repeatedly affirmed in international and governmental forums, women and girls still face social, political and cultural barriers to controlling their sexuality, sexual and reproductive health.

Their decisions cannot be free from coercion, discrimination and violence if they are made in the context of power imbalances, harmful gender norms and inequalities.

The authors from HRP, the Institute on Inequalities in Global Health, the Supreme Court of Nepal, the WHO and Women Deliver call for a system of protection for women’s human rights defenders everywhere.

They celebrate new communities of frontline defenders, civil society movements holding governments to account, and vibrant coalitions such as Generation Equality as drivers of achievements in girls and women’s rights over the last twenty-five years.

An anniversary is an opportunity for change

Governments are preparing for the 64th Commission on the Status of Women in late March, where they will review implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and challenges affecting full realization of the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development.

They will recognize that no country has fully achieved equality, and that women and girls who experience multiple forms of discrimination throughout their lives are still the most held back.

If this collective reflection can be shifted into action, 2020 will become a new anniversary: a pivotal year for the accelerated realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, everywhere.

 

 


WHO statement on cases of COVID-19 surpassing 100 000

As of today’s reports, the global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 100 000. As we mark this sombre moment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reminds all countries and communities that the spread of this virus can be significantly slowed or even reversed through the implementation of robust containment and control activities. 

China and other countries are demonstrating that spread of the virus can be slowed and impact reduced through the use of universally applicable actions, such as working across society to identify people who are sick, bringing them to care, following up on contacts, preparing hospitals and clinics to manage a surge in patients, and training health workers.

WHO calls on all countries to continue efforts that have been effective in limiting the number of cases and slowing the spread of the virus. 

Every effort to contain the virus and slow the spread saves lives. These efforts give health systems and all of society much needed time to prepare, and researchers more time to identify effective treatments and develop vaccines. 

Allowing uncontrolled spread should not be a choice of any government, as it will harm not only the citizens of that country but affect other countries as well. 

We must stop, contain, control, delay and reduce the impact of this virus at every opportunity. Every person has the capacity to contribute, to protect themselves, to protect others, whether in the home, the community, the healthcare system, the workplace or the transport system. 

Leaders at all levels and in all walks of life must step forward to bring about this commitment across society. 

WHO will continue to work with all countries, our partners and expert networks to coordinate the international response, develop guidance, distribute supplies, share knowledge and provide people with the information they need to protect themselves and others.

 

 


End in sight, but flare-ups likely in the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Remarks by Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, World Health Organization Assistant Director-General, Emergency Response

 

Good afternoon. 

I hope that your busy week was interrupted, like mine, with a moment of joy on Tuesday.

That moment was the celebration of a woman being discharged from an Ebola treatment centre in Beni. Her name is Masiko.

She was the last person in the Democratic Republic of the Congo confirmed to have Ebola.

Health workers and other responders sacrificed a lot to get to this point. 

Since the outbreak was declared in August 2018 there have been 420 attacks on health facilities in DRC, resulting in 11 deaths and 86 injuries among health care workers and patients.

It’s been a huge amount of work. At the peak of the outbreak, more than 120 cases were being reported each week. 28 health zones were affected, with cases appearing 1200 kilometres apart. In response:

  • 11 labs have been set up to test around 3500 samples each week
  • 11 Ebola treatment centres were set up to care for people with Ebola
  • 300 000 people have been vaccinated
  • 250 000 contacts have been registered
  • 26 000 safe and dignified burials have been conducted
  • More than 3000 health facilities were identified for infection prevention and control support
  • More than 1000 metric tonnes of supplies have been delivered
  • An Ebola vaccine has been licensed, and two treatments found to be highly effective
  • Almost 160 million people have been screened for Ebola symptoms at borders or other points of control

This work is continuing. The outbreak isn’t over. WHO recommends waiting two full incubation periods – that’s 42 days – after the last person tests negative a second time before declaring the end of the outbreak.

We must stay in active response mode to get us over that finish line.

We have to be prepared for other cases emerging. It’s is a very real risk.

Remember that during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa flare-ups of new cases occurred after the end of the outbreak.

There are four reasons why new cases may emerge during this 42-day period, or even after the end of the outbreak.

  • First, because of the complex security environment, Ebola transmission outside of groups under monitoring is possible.  
  • Second, Ebola virus can persist in used needles, syringes or vials for several weeks.
  • Third, Ebola virus can persist in the body fluids of survivors for many months, and can be transmitted well after recovery, or in rare cases can result in relapse – as we’ve already seen during this outbreak.
  • Finally, Ebola virus is present in an animal reservoir in the region, and there is always a risk of a new spillover to humans.

This is why it’s critical to maintain surveillance and rapid response capacities.

And that’s what we are doing. We’re still in full response mode.

In addition to the activities I already mentioned, I have to underline how critical it is to continue supporting the Survivor Programme, which provides follow-up care for almost all of the 1169 survivors in 26 health areas in North Kivu and Ituri. The programme also helps reduce the risks of re-introduction events. 

We need to continue this work until the end of the outbreak, to keep the capacity in place to rapidly respond to flare-ups, to keep supporting survivors after the outbreak, and to transition the capacities built in this response toward building a stronger health system. 

But to be very frank, right now the world risks dropping the baton at the finish line. WHO faces an immediate US $20 million funding gap. If no new resources are received, we will run out of money before the end of the outbreak.

We appreciate the generosity of donors who have supported the response since August 2018. Now we need to get over the finish line. WHO is calling on the international community to help us end this outbreak, and keep our promises to communities to build a stronger health system.

If we are forced to scale back operations because of a lack of funds, and then a new case emerges, we might not have the people and resources on the ground that we need to shut down transmission quickly. Just a single case could re-ignite the epidemic.

That would be a tragedy. An avoidable tragedy. 

It is important that the global community doesn’t only focus efforts when there is an immediate threat, then walk away when the threat subsides.

The health system has to be strong to stop much more than Ebola. It has to stop malaria, measles, cholera, and now COVID-19.

There is a lot more work to do.

Thank you.

 


Global gathering of ministers determines road safety agenda to 2030

The 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety convened 1700 delegates from around 140 countries, including more than 70 ministers and vice-ministers and heads of international agencies, civil society organizations, foundations and private companies. Hosted at the request of the UN General Assembly by the Government of Sweden in collaboration with WHO, the theme was “Achieving Global Goals 2030”, highlighting the connections between road safety and achievement of other Sustainable Development Goal targets.

Through its 6 high-level panels and 18 parallel sessions, the Ministerial Conference addressed a range of topics, from building effective leadership for road safety to promoting sustainable cities and communities, mitigating climate change through road safety, and ensuring the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. The gathering was instrumental in reviewing progress in the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 and defining ways to accelerate action on proven strategies to save lives. Among many pre-events, the 2nd World Youth Assembly for Road Safety hosted by YOURS: Youth for Road Safety and co-hosted by WHO, brought 200 young leaders together proclaiming “Enough is enough!” and claiming their space at the decision-making table for sustainable mobility.

The Ministerial Conference culminated in the forward-looking “Stockholm Declaration”, which calls for a new global target to reduce road traffic deaths and injuries by 50% by 2030. In addition, it invites strengthened efforts on activities in all five pillars of the Global Plan for the Decade of Action: better road safety management; safer roads, vehicles and people; and enhanced post-crash care. It also calls for speeding up the shift to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable modes of transport like walking, cycling and public transport. WHO is asked to continue to produce the series of global status reports, as a means of monitoring progress towards achievement of the 12 Global Road Safety Performance Targets.

Today, around 1.35 million people lose their lives on the world’s roads every year, and as many as 50 million are injured. More than one quarter of those killed and injured are pedestrians and cyclists. Road traffic injuries are now the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years. Given the enormous human suffering and major economic losses for families and societies, road traffic deaths remain an unacceptable price to pay for mobility.


Shortage of personal protective equipment endangering health workers worldwide

WHO calls on industry and governments to increase manufacturing by 40 per cent to meet rising global demand

The World Health Organization has warned that severe and mounting disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) – caused by rising demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse – is putting lives at risk from the new coronavirus and other infectious diseases.

Healthcare workers rely on personal protective equipment to protect themselves and their patients from being infected and infecting others.

But shortages are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for COVID-19 patients, due to limited access to supplies such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons.

“Without secure supply chains, the risk to healthcare workers around the world is real. Industry and governments must act quickly to boost supply, ease export restrictions and put measures in place to stop speculation and hoarding. We can’t stop COVID-19 without protecting health workers first,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, prices have surged. Surgical masks have seen a sixfold increase, N95 respirators have trebled and gowns have doubled.

Supplies can take months to deliver and market manipulation is widespread, with stocks frequently sold to the highest bidder.

WHO has so far shipped nearly half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries,* but supplies are rapidly depleting.

Based on WHO modelling, an estimated 89 million medical masks are required for the COVID-19 response each month. For examination gloves, that figure goes up to 76 million, while international demand for goggles stands at 1.6 million per month. 

Recent WHO guidance calls for the rational and appropriate use of PPE in healthcare settings, and the effective management of supply chains.

WHO is working with governments, industry and the Pandemic Supply Chain Network to boost production and secure allocations for critically affected and at-risk countries.

To meet rising global demand, WHO estimates that industry must increase manufacturing by 40 per cent.

Governments should develop incentives for industry to ramp up production. This includes easing restrictions on the export and distribution of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. 

Every day, WHO is providing guidance, supporting secure supply chains, and delivering critical equipment to countries in need.  

 *** 

NOTE TO EDITORS

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, countries that have received WHO PPE supplies include:

  • Western Pacific region: Cambodia, Fiji, Kiribati, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu and the Philippines
  • Southeast Asia region: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and Timor-Leste
  • Eastern Mediteranean region: Afghanistan, Djibouti, Lebanon, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Jordan, Morocco and Iran
  • Africa region: Senegal, Algeria, Ethiopia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Seychelles and Zimbabwe

 


UN releases US$15 million to help vulnerable countries battle the spread of the coronavirus

UN Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock today released US$15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help fund global efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus.

The announcement came as the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded the global risk of the coronavirus outbreak to “very high” – its top level of risk assessment. The WHO has said there is still a chance of containing the virus if its chain of transmission is broken.

The sudden increases of cases in Italy, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea are deeply concerning. There are now cases linked to Iran in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman, along with cases linked to Italy in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain and Switzerland.

The UN funding has been released to the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It will fund essential activities including monitoring the spread of the virus, investigating cases, and the operation of national laboratories.

The WHO has called for US$675 million to fund the fight against coronavirus. There is a window of opportunity to contain the spread of the virus if countries take robust measures to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients, and trace contacts.

Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock said: “We do not yet see evidence that the virus is spreading freely. As long as that’s the case, we still have a chance of containing it.

“But swift and robust action must be taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients, and trace contacts. We must act now to stop this virus from putting more lives at risk.

“This grant from the UN’s Emergency Fund will help countries with fragile health systems boost their detection and response operations. It has the potential to save the lives of millions of vulnerable people.”

This is a critical juncture in the outbreak. The focus is on containing COVID-19 by strengthening surveillance, conducting thorough outbreak investigations to identify contacts and applying appropriate measures to prevent further spread.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “The potential spread of the virus to countries with weaker health systems is one of our biggest concerns. These funds will help support these countries get ready for detecting and isolating cases, protecting their health workers, and treating patients with dignity and appropriate care. This will help us save lives and push back the virus”

UNICEF is leading on preventative actions in communities across the affected countries with risk communication, providing hygiene and medical kits to schools and health clinics and monitoring the impact of the outbreak to support continuity of care, education and social services.

“At this pivotal moment, every effort must be made to push back against the outbreak,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “These crucial funds will support our global efforts to bolster weaker health systems and inform children, pregnant women and families about how to protect themselves.”

Since it was launched in 2006, CERF has provided more than $6 billion to over 100 countries and helped hundreds of millions of people.


Guideline on parent training to prevent child maltreatment and promote the positive development of children aged 0-17 years

WHO is developing a guideline on parent training to prevent child maltreatment and promote the positive development of children aged 0-17 years. Part of the guideline development process involves constitution of a Guideline Development Group (GDG) which
should represent a broad spectrum of perspectives, constituencies, and relevant expertise. The biographies of individuals proposed for membership of the GDG are provided below for public review and comment. Any comment or concern about the individuals
listed should be sent to Dr Alexander Butchart (butcharta@who.int).


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