New medical testing: affordable and quick

Kanav Kahol, a biomedical engineer and researcher at Arizona State University, realized that physicians and engineers were doing little to make diagnostic testing more affordable. As a result, billions of people receive inadequate preventative healthcare. Intent on creating a solution, Kahol moved back to New Delhi in 2011 where he developed the Swasthya Slate.

The Swasthya Slate is a mobile medical device that performs 33 medical tests covering a broad range of assessments, including blood pressure, heart rate, heamoglobin, HIV, malaria, and typhoid. The device is roughly the size of a large textbook and costs $600. Each test takes one to two minutes, and results are automatically stored on the patient’s cloud-based medical records.

After finishing the slate in Jan. 2013, Kahol introduced it to 2.1 million people served by medical clinics in the Northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Swasthya Slate is now used in six continents, and the next generation of the device—HealthCube—was tested last month in Clinica Internacional, Peru’s most prestigious hospital. Alvaro Chavez Tori, Clinica’s general manager, is optimistic about the integration of the HealthCube in Peru and Latin America as the “acceptance of the technology was amazingly high.”

HealthCube has great potential in the United States as well. Over 10 percent of the U.S. population still lacks health insurance, and thus receives less preventative care and experiences greater serious illness. Basic tests provided by Swasthya Slate and HealthCube would alert Americans to health issues early and affordably, cutting costs for citizens and for the government.

Article via The Washington Post, March 11, 2016

Photo: Infant patients get a checkup via World Bank Photo Collection [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Facebook sets things straight with India

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to set things straight after tweets from board member Marc Andreessen put the company’s image in hot water. Andreessen reacted to the Indian telecom regulator’s ban on Facebook’s Free Basics service by bringing up India and colonialism.

Zuckerberg was quoted as saying, “I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.”

The comments that he refers to start with Andreessen’s tweet, “Another in a long line of economically suicidal decisions made by the Indian government against its own citizens,” referencing the Free Basics ban. He continues saying, “Denying world’s poorest free partial Internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong.”

Indian entrepreneur Vivek Chachra reportedly tweeted in response that the Free Basics argument that some Internet is better than no Internet sounded like a “justification of Internet colonialism.” To which Andreessen responded, “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”

Zuckerberg wants to bring the Internet to the entire planet by 2020. India would be a major factor in making that goal come true. Andreessen’s comments make it appear as though Facebook may have other motives for expanding into India, and may jeopardize future growth in that market. Some say that Facebook should ask Andreessen to step down, and make an example out of him showing that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated.

In response, Zuckerberg has made statements of his own, via Facebook, to combat the controversy. India “has been personally important to me and Facebook….I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the need to understand India’s history and culture” and “I look forward to strengthening my connection to the country.”

Facebook has withdrawn Free Basics from India and continues to weather the storm of this controversy.

Article via TechNewsWorld, 12 February 2016

Photo: facebook global by Global Panorama [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Farmers in India use WhatsApp to sell organic produce

Farmers in India are now using WhatsApp to network with customers. Santhosh Kittur and Abhijit Kamath, for example, grow pesticide-free vegetables using traditional farming techniques. But they have a very modern method of advertising their produce: an 80-member WhatsApp group that receives updates and photographs of the farm.

Members of the group can message Kittur and Kamarth to reserve specific vegetables. “First preference is given to the members of the group. The system has worked well for us, even financially,” Kittur commented.

The trend of using WhatsApp to connect farmers to customers is a result of rising demand for organic produce in India. An October report by the Agriculture Ministry exposed that the amount of vegetables, fruit, meat, and spices treated with pesticides over the legal maximum level had almost doubled since 2009.

“It is very hard to find chemical-free vegetables. We had stopped using cabbage, cauliflower, and brinjal [eggplant] after learning about their high chemical content,” said customer Shraddha Bagi. “When these farmers [Kittur and Kamath] supply fresh and safe vegetables right at our doorsteps, we should definitely encourage them. It’s come to such a point where we eagerly wait for their produce.”

WhatsApp has exceeded its role as an advertiser to become a support system for farmers. Over a hundred farmers from different villages are part of the group named Baliraja, which serves as a forum for the farmers to share advice and connect with experts.

“Farmers’ queries are getting answered quickly,” said the coordinator of another agricultural WhatsApp group.

Article via: Mashable, 11 February 2016

Photo: Woman Laughing with Hoe, Purna Wildlife Sanctuary by Adam Cohn  [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Family reunited in India with the help of Twitter

The power of social media is evident in India. On Sunday, January 31, Delhi police organized a unique rescue reuniting a lost Alzheimer’s patient with her family in just 2 hours with the help of Twitter.

A police van discovered 80-year-old Kamla Gupta in north Delhi. The city’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Madhur Verma tweeted her details. Gupta, an Alzheimer’s patient, had lost her way after visiting a temple that morning. She could not remember her home address even after being taken to the police station.

The tweet included a photo of her and a text saying “Smt Kamla Gupta, 80..found in Ashok Vihar..unable to recall her address. If u identify pls contact PS Ashok Vihar.”

Soon after the tweet, a businessman named Vishal Kumar shared the information on a Facebook group. After the family reached out to him, Kumar then connected the family to Deputy Verma. Kamla Gupta was reunited with her family in a few hours.

Madhur Verma tweeted a picture of the family together saying, “That’s the power of social media. Thanks @TwitterIndia. Family members of Mrs Kamla Gupta traced in less then 2 hrs!”

Police forces in several Indian cities are increasingly using social media as a means to communicate with their citizens. Their pages offer updates on crime and troubleshoot problems and solutions. The Delhi police created its own Twitter in December 2015. Deputy Verma however has been using Twitter since 2014. In March 2015, he received accolades on his role in rescuing 3 lost children stranded at a railway station in Delhi. A journalist tweeted photographs of the kids and Verma launched a search mission to help reunite them with their parents.

“Twitter is a great platform for reaching out to citizens, and presenting our side of the story. If you are available online and on social media, you can catch the pulse of the society and even challenge unfounded rumors,” Verma says.

Article via Mashable, February 1, 2016

Photo: Twitter Superman via Irish Typepad [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Zuckerberg defends Free Basics in India

Facebook’s initiative to provide Internet to developing parts of the world, Free Basics, has been met with substantial criticism from those who believe that the service violates Net Neutrality. This Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the service in an opinion article in the Times of India.

Zuckerberg’s effort to offer free Internet throughout India was obstructed by the country’s Telecom Regulatory Authority’s request that Facebook discontinue the program. India has 132 million active Facebook users, the second largest population of Facebook users behind the Unite States’ 193 million users.

Critics argue that Free Basics, the website that offers Internet services, provides more content from Facebook than from other sources. When Zuckerberg visited India in October, however, he implied that the Facebook service did not breach Net Neutrality when he said that all traffic on the Internet should be treated equally.

“Instead of wanting to give people access to some basic Internet services for free, critics of the program continue to spread false claims—even if that means leaving behind a billion people,” Zuckerberg said. “Who could possibly be against this? Choose facts over false claims. Everyone deserves access to the Internet.”

Article via CNET, December 28, 2015

Photo: Mark Zuckerberg via Mathieu Thouvenin [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Google brings Internet to India

Google plans to equip 400 train station across India with high-speed Internet, as announced by the company’s CEO Sundar Pichai last Sunday. This announcement occurred at the same time that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. Bringing high-speed WiFi to rural areas of India by 2019 is one of Modi’s goals as part of his Digital India Initiative.

Google is collaborating with Indian Railways and RailTel, an Internet service provider along railway lines. By the end of next year, 100 railway stations will have Internet. This will grant access for the 10 million people who use the stations every day.

India’s huge market will benefit Google greatly, as the company profits off advertising. However, India’s limited infrastructure will still prove an obstacle. Both Google and its competitor Facebook have experimented with drones and balloons to offer service to rural areas. Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at Tirias Research, commented on the difficulties of building in developing areas: “Power can be a problem. Running new wires is difficult — and keeping those wires from being stolen even more so.”

Article via TechNewsWorld, 29 September 2015

Photo: Train at Mahim Junction, Mumbai via Adam Cohn [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]