• Homegrown app helping Kabul residents steer clear of danger

    #Ehtesab tracks turbulence on the ground and sends users alerts on which areas to avoid.

    As Kabul fell on Sunday, 20 young Afghan tech workers tracked the Taliban’s advance, broadcasting real-time reports of gunfire, explosions and traffic jams across the city through a new app.

    Called Ehtesab, the app relies on ground-level reports from a vetted team of users to a private WhatsApp group.

    The reports, which are then verified by the app’s fact checkers, range from security incidents, such as fires, gunshots and bombings, to road closures and traffic problems to electricity cuts. Sara Wahedi, the 26-year-old founder of the app, said the team tried to confirm the reports with the interior ministry, “when it used to exist”.

    On Sunday morning, Wahedi and her team were supposed to be uploading the new version of their iOS app but instead found themselves dealing with an ever more frantic stream of reports.

    “Breaking on the @ehtesabaf App: Taliban have entered Arghandi, Paghman District. South Gate of Kabul. ANDSF [Afghan National Defence and Security Forces] under attack,” Wahedi wrote on Twitter at the time.

    She said that as the Taliban advanced across Afghanistan, Ehtesab had built a reliable way of “getting reports from a lot of different security structures”, including police, the government and international organisations.

    Soon the team started receiving reports that the Taliban had captured Bagram prison, in the former US military base just north of Kabul.

    “At that point our reporting mechanisms were still in place, so it was easy to converse with our security team and all our reporters. We were monitoring minute by minute, talking to different police districts, tracking the Taliban kilometre by kilometre by that point,” she said.

    “But by the time they reached the city centre, everything shut down, nothing was online, there was no way of speaking to each other. People deleted their messages or turned off their phones. When the Taliban reached the president’s office, it was like, ‘OK, now we have to work alone’.”

    Ehtesab, which means “accountability” in Pashto and Dari, is co-owned by Afghan company #Netlinks, which invested $40,000, and #Wahedi, who said she has put in $2,500 of her own money.

    “I didn’t want to register as an NGO, to be benchmarked or limited by the United Nations or the United States. This is an Afghan-led and funded, fully 100 per cent Afghan team working on this,” she said.

    Users of the app can opt to receive phone alerts based on their location, warning them to avoid certain areas, buildings or businesses. They can also report incidents themselves via the app, which turns on your camera and microphone so you can send video footage to Wahedi’s team. The goal, she said, is to empower local communities with live information on which to act.

    Ehtesab is still running, and Wahedi said she want to keep operating it as long as possible, although she is currently outside Afghanistan. She has managed to raise nearly $15,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, part of which she will send to her team in Kabul as emergency funds.

    Her plan is to build a nationwide alert system, not just through the apps but through SMS warnings as well. Their office in central Kabul remains closed, with employees working from home, but they plan to upload a new iOS version as soon as they can get back to their desks.

    “We just want to alleviate some of the anxieties that Afghans have in these uncertain and volatile times,” she said. “We will find different ways of garnering data about the city and security . . . That’s the beauty of tech, it knows no borders,” she said.

    Wahedi founded the company in 2018, after spending two years working for President Ashraf Ghani’s office on Afghanistan’s social development policy, but insists she is not affiliated to any political group.

    She had moved back to her hometown as a 21-year-old, after having escaped Taliban rule in her native Kabul to go to Canada as a refugee at the age of six. Two decades later, the Afghan entrepreneur found herself fleeing from the Taliban again. This time she does not know if she will ever be able to return. “It’s like Groundhog Day,” she said.

    Today, she is using what she calls the “privilege” of having escaped Kabul to try to put her friends and family on charter flights out of Afghanistan.

    “I’m grateful to be with my mom but the guilt is crippling when I think about my home, when I think about the fact I’ll never be able to go back to the Kabul I’ve known for so long,” she said. “I don’t think any of us will ever be the same again.”


    #Kaboul #cartographie #sécurité #cartographie #alertes #app #cartographie_participative #smartphone

  • Les Applications de traçage numérique pour la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans la région MENA : un cauchemar pour les données personnelles

    En réponse à la pandémie mondiale de COVID-19, un certain nombre de pays de la région MENA ont fait appel à la technologie dans le but de détecter et limiter la propagation du virus, que ce soit avec applications, des drones, ou des robots pour suivre le mouvement des citoyens en quarantaine. Maintenant que les pays cherchent à revenir peu à peu à la normale et de lever les mesures de confinement, de plus en plus de pays se mettent à développer leurs propres applications de traçage numérique comme (...)

    #Bluetooth #smartphone #GPS #AccessNow #algorithme #Wizzlabs #E7mi #BeAware #Tatamman #Wiqaytna #EHTERAZ #contactTracing #technologisme #consentement #métadonnées #BigData #COVID-19 #hacking (...)


  • COVID-19 contact-tracing apps in MENA : a privacy nightmare

    At the outbreak of the COVID-19 global pandemic, a number of countries in the MENA region turned to technology to help track and prevent the spread of the virus, using apps, drones, and even robots to monitor the movement of citizens under quarantine. Now, as countries are looking to slowly return to life and lift lockdown measures, more are jumping on the bandwagon, including developing their own contact-tracing apps, as seen most recently in Morocco and Tunisia. While contact-tracing (...)

    #algorithme #Bluetooth #E7mi #EHTERAZ #smartphone #Wizzlabs #GPS #Wiqaytna #BeAware #Tatamman #contactTracing #technologisme #consentement #métadonnées #BigData #COVID-19 #hacking #santé (...)

    ##santé ##AccessNow

  • First-ever picture of a black hole | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

    Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) is the name of this technique, in which the signals of the individual antennas are superimposed. This synchronization takes place with the aid of high-precision atomic clocks accurate to the nanosecond. An extreme angular resolution of less than 20 micro arc seconds can be achieved; if our eyes had such a power, we could see the individual molecules in our hands.
    The network of this so-called Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) included the 30-meter IRAM mirror in Spain and the APEX telescope in Chile, in which the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy is involved. In 2017 alone, the telescopes recorded a total of about four petabytes of data - such a large amount that postal transport is actually faster and more efficient than sending the data via the Internet.

    Pour plus de précisions sur la mise au point technique de l’EHT, voir aussi : https://www.mpg.de/13326245/interview-anton-zensus-max-planck-eht?c=2249

    #Event_Horizon_Telescope #EHT