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CoWIN app shall form foundation of Covid-19 vaccination drive in India

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NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government (Centre or government of India)  on Sunday said Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring COVID-19 vaccine delivery, shall form the foundation for the anti-coronavirus inoculation drive which shall be citizen-centric so that the vaccine is available anytime and anywhere.

India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world’s largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.

As part of preparations for the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccine, the Health Ministry on Sunday held a video conference with officials from states and Union Territories to discuss feedback on the Co-WIN software and its operational use gathered from the vaccination dry runs.

The meeting was chaired by Ram Sewak Sharma, the chairman of Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management to combat COVID-19 and member of National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of COVID-19.

Giving an overall view of the CoWIN software and the principles that shall underpin the technology backup for the vaccination exercise, he said robust, dependable and agile technology shall form both the foundation and the back-up for the country’s COVID-19 vaccination drive.

“The process should be citizen-centric and built on an approach that the vaccine shall be available anytime and anywhere,” Sharma was quoted as saying in a statement.

He stressed on the need for flexibility without compromising on quality and reiterated that inclusivity, speed and scalability have been kept in mind while designing the digital platform with all its components being portable, synchronous without excessive and unnecessary dependencies.

Underscoring the importance of capturing the vaccination data in real time, Sharma said, “This is non-negotiable.”

He also highlighted the caution one needs to exercise to ensure there was ‘no proxy’ at all, while reiterating that the beneficiaries of the vaccination drive need to be uniquely and undeniably identified.

About the use of the Aadhaar platform, Sharma advised the states to urge the beneficiaries to seed their current mobile number with Aadhaar for registration and consequent communication through SMS.

It is extremely important to clearly identify a person who is getting vaccinated and keep a digital record on who gets vaccinated by whom, when and which one, Sharma stressed.

The meeting was attended by principal secretaries of states, National Health Mission Directors, state immunisation officers and senior officers of the Union Health Ministry.

India had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines, Oxford’s Covishield being manufactured by Serum Institute in India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Both vaccines, the statement from the Health Ministry said, have established safety and immunogenicity.

After vaccinating healthcare and frontline workers, priority will be given to those above 50 years of age and the under-50 population groups with co-morbidities, together numbering around 27 crore, a government statement said.

Source: Press Trust of India

Mobile Services

Pakistan temporarily suspends all social media platforms

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Friday temporarily suspended the services of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to stop their use to organise demonstrations following violent protests by a radical religious group that has now been banned by the government.

The government banned Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on Thursday following three days of violent protest by it to force the government to expel the French ambassador over a blasphemous caricature published in France last year.

The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday after the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

The TLP supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies in several towns and cities earlier this week, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

To stop the protests after Friday prayers, the Interior Ministry directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to suspend social media services for four hours from 11 am to 3 pm.

The PTA said in a notification that complete access to social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Telegram) may be blocked.

The reason for the suspension of the services was not stated by the PTA but official sources said that it was feared that protesters could use social media to organise demonstrations.

Suspension of internet and mobile phone services is a common practice in Pakistan to forestall protests and acts of terrorism.

But this time only social media has been particularly targeted as the TLP was reportedly using it effectively against the government action.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed warned the TLP against using YouTube to upload propaganda videos. The TLP came to prominence in November 2017 when it staged a sit-in at the Faizabad interchange near Islamabad and cut off the capital from the old international airport.

Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) was in the government then and Imran Khan, the current prime minister, and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party had supported the protest.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Spectrum Auction 2021: Telecom Department assigns frequencies to successful bidders

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NEW DELHI: Department of Telecom (DoT) today (16.04.2021) successfully completed the assignment of frequencies to successful bidders of the Spectrum Auction, 2021. Frequency assignment letters were issued to successful bidders today.

The frequency assignment was accompanied by a frequency harmonization exercise, whereby spectrum blocks assigned to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) in the current spectrum auction have been made contiguous with the spectrum blocks already held by them, wherever possible, in various bands in different Licensed Service Areas (LSAs).

The harmonization of spectrum was accomplished in 19 LSAs in 800 MHz band, 8 LSAs in 900 MHz band, 21 LSAs in 1800 MHz band, 3 LSAs in 2100 MHz band, and 16 LSAs in 2300 MHz band.The harmonization exercise facilitates more efficient utilization of spectrum held by TSPs, leading to improved Quality of Service for consumers.

As a part of the frequency assignment, the Government has also accepted the request of two TSPs – M/S Bharti and M/S Reliance Jio, for assignment of immediately available unsold spectrum blocks in place of spectrum blocks in the same band and LSA assigned to them from later dates. An amount of Rs. 2306.97 crore (Rs. 157.38 crore from M/s Bharti and Rs. 2149.59 crore from M/s Reliance Jio) has been received immediately by the Government, rather than in August/ September, 2021.

It may be recalled that a total quantity of 855.60 MHz of spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, and 2300 MHz bands was acquired by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) in the Spectrum Auction, 2021, conducted on 1st and 2nd March, 2021.

The total amount payable by the successful bidders for the total quantity of spectrum acquired is Rs 77820.81 crore.

Of this, an amount of Rs 21918.47 crore was received as upfront payment from the TSPs on 18th March, 2021, as per terms and conditions of the Notice Inviting Applications.

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UserTesting names Jon Pexton Chief Financial Officer

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NEW DELHI: UserTesting, a leading provider of on-demand human insights, today announced the appointment of Jon Pexton as Chief Financial Officer.

Pexton brings a strong financial background at both private and public companies and his leadership experience will serve as a strong asset in helping UserTesting continue its global growth.

“The UserTesting Human Insight Platform is well positioned to help companies better understand, empathize and improve their customer’s experience. It is a timely solution as many aspects of life are changing quickly, and becoming more digital. Delivering great experiences is critical for success and differentiation,” said Pexton.

“I’m excited to join the leadership team at this pivotal time and help the company continue its global expansion and leadership in this category,” he added.

Prior to joining UserTesting, Pexton was CFO of Workfront, a SaaS-based enterprise work management platform that was acquired by Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE). Before Workfront, Pexton served as CFO of two financial technology companies and in leadership positions at CallidusCloud, Vitria Technology and Remedy Software. With more than 25 years of financial leadership experience, Pexton started his career at Ernst & Young and has led finance teams for all stages of companies.

“We are at an exciting time here at UserTesting, and Jon’s outstanding background in helping high growth technology companies scale and operate at a higher level is an ideal match for our current growth trajectory,” said Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting.

“More importantly, Jon is an outstanding leader, and he is a great fit for our executive team as we move into our next phase of growth,” he added.

 

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