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Showdown looms between Silicon Valley, U.S. states over contact tracing apps – Reuters

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. states promoting apps that could prove essential to ending the coronavirus lockdown may be headed for a showdown with the two Silicon Valley companies that control key software on 99% of smartphones over the collection of sensitive GPS location data.

FILE PHOTO: The Care19 mobile app, which the governors of North Dakota and South Dakota have asked residents to download to assist in contact tracing during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is seen on a phone, U.S. April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Paresh Dave

Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google plan to release technology jointly in the coming weeks for digital contact tracing through Bluetooth sensors on phones. Public health authorities have determined that the technology is crucial to apps that will alert people when they have been close to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

For contact tracing apps to work, however, millions of people must be willing to use them without fear their locations and other personal data is being tracked and stored.

Google and Apple have sought to build public trust by emphasizing that the changes they are making to Bluetooth to allow the tracing apps to work will not tap phones’ GPS sensors, which privacy activists see as too intrusive.

But the states pioneering the apps – North and South Dakota, and Utah – say allowing public health authorities to use GPS in tandem with Bluetooth is key to making the system viable.

The Bluetooth technology will enable users to be notified if they crossed paths with a coronavirus carrier, but will not specify where the encounter happened, information crucial to authorities who want to identify hotspots for virus transmission and move fast to stop outbreaks.

Apple and Google said on Friday that they still have not decided how to proceed.

“I would encourage them to go for the ‘and’ and not the ‘or’ solution,” North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said of Apple and Google in an interview late Thursday.

“During this new normal, there is a place for having solutions that protect privacy and enable more efficient contact tracing,” said Burgum, himself a former software executive who sold a company to Microsoft Corp for more than $1 billion in 2001.

APPS AT WORK

Anonymized GPS location data is already playing a key role in an early version of Care19, an app that about 40,000 people have signed up for in North and South Dakota.

Authorities currently ask Care19 users to give them permission for timestamped GPS location data, which allows officials to manually call places where users could have spread the virus and ask for names and numbers of others who may have been there at the same time.

This laborious process will no longer be necessary with the Bluetooth technology coming from Apple and Google, which will automatically catalog encounters between users and enable carriers to anonymously convey to others potentially infected that they should get tested. Without the changes the two companies are working on, iPhone users would have to keep their phone unlocked and app open at all times.

Utah’s Healthy Together contact tracing app, which launched on Wednesday, for now is using a workaround that only catalogs some encounters. Healthy Together also collects location data and its developers hope Apple and Google do not force them to drop that functionality to adopt the more comprehensive Bluetooth technology.

“What Utah wanted to understand is not just who is spreading [the virus] to whom but also location zones,” said Jared Allgood, chief strategy officer for Twenty, the startup which developed Utah’s app for an initial $1.75 million.

GPS location data allows authorities to decide which businesses may need to be closed because the virus is spreading there, and prioritize which contacts of diagnosed patients to test.

“Is it happening in a park, a Costco or a Walmart? They are trying to make policy decisions that move our economy from a broad-based ‘everything is shut down’ to a more targeted approach,” Allgood said in an interview on Friday.

Privacy experts have warned that any cache of location data related to health issues could make businesses and individuals vulnerable to being ostracized if the data are exposed.

But Tim Brookins, a principal engineer at Microsoft who previously worked for Burgum and developed Care19 independently of his employer, said location data is stored on a Microsoft Azure server that he rents and to which only he and one other person have the keys. North Dakota is paying about $9,000 to license Care19 for six months, he said.

Allgood said the Utah app asks users for their phone number, but location data is stored anonymously in a server rented from Amazon Web Services.

“We don’t see a reason why Apple or Google would not allow us to participate in their tools,” said Diesel Peltz, Twenty’s CEO.

The Care19 mobile app, which the governors of North Dakota and South Dakota have asked residents to download to assist in contact tracing during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is seen on a phone, U.S. April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Paresh Dave

Brookins and Burgum expressed confidence the two tech giants would allow for location data collection after seeing the safeguards Care19 has put in place, including not asking for users’ names, phone numbers or email addresses.

“Some people are completely opposed to an intrusion on privacy but there’s a younger generation sharing their location on dozens of apps,” Burgum said.

“There may be a set of people highly social, young and going out to bars who may see this tool as fantastic.”

Reporting by Paresh Dave and Stephen Nellis; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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Vancouver's Cibo Trattoria and UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar announce new head chef – Eat North

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After weeks of planning and anticipation, Vancouver’s Cibo Trattoria and UVA Wine and Cocktail Bar recently announced the addition of new head chef Jesse Zuber, and are both set to reopen their doors for dine-in services today.

Chef Zuber, best known for competing on Top Chef Canada and helming the kitchens at Ayden Kitchen and Bar and Saskatoon’s Little Grouse on the Prairie, has developed new dinner, lunch, and weekend brunch menus for Cibo that embrace the restaurant’s traditional rustic Italian cuisine, while maintaining the B.C.-born chef’s affinity for seasonality and local ingredients. 

“It’s a bit of an odd time to start a new position, but I’ve been so impressed with the amount of passion on display here and the breadth of talent from the front of house to the kitchen and bar,” says Zuber. “I’m so thrilled to be a part of this amazing team and we can’t wait to welcome old friends and new acquaintances back to our dining room.”

At UVA, chef Zuber and his team will provide a select menu of bites and small plates to complement the downtown Vancouver wine and cocktail bar’s award-winning cocktail list and cellar of Old- and New-World wines. 

Both Cibo and UVA plan to employ stringent health and safety standards, including the use of personal protective equipment and social distancing measures.

Reservations for Cibo can be made via OpenTable or by calling the restaurant, while UVA will accept walk-ins only based on availability.

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Best Buy Canada goes big on Father's Day 2020 tech deals – MobileSyrup

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Best Buy Canada wants you to celebrate Father’s Day in style and has heavily discounted several notable tech items. As a reminder, Father’s Day is June 21st, 2020.

Below are some of the Canadian retailer’s best offers:

Source: Best Buy Canada

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This Is How the Original BMW X5 SUV Went From Idea to Reality – The Drive

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Some of us are well versed in the process that takes a vehicle from idea to either concept or finished production model,  but that’s not to say that it isn’t mesmerizing to see the process behind the design phase of a specific car, especially one as important as BMW’s first-ever SUV: the X5.

Frank Stephenson is the closest thing the automotive design world has to a living legend these days, and his new “How I Designed” series on YouTube pulls back the curtain for us to see how he worked his magic with a variety of models. In his latest video, he sketches the original BMW X5 SUV and tells us how he helped take it from a BMW executive’s wish to an actual finished product.

Stephenson says the X5 came about as an exercise to see what a BMW could look like if it were styled like a Land Rover. Chris Bangle, BMW Chief of Design at the time, offered to produce sketches of the new vehicle, but the demand given to the design team was to create a full-size model of the vehicle for company executives. Stephenson says the designers were given just six weeks to take the SUV from conception to the finished model. 

Together with three guys that worked on the Lamborghini Miura decades earlier, Stephenson worked up a model for the X5. Following the company’s purchase of the Rover brand, BMW had access to the platform that would go on to underpin the new SUV, so the rest just had to be created out of thin air—and that’s where Stephenson’s mastery came in handy.

Stephenson claims that creating a sketch can be a challenge, but it’s actually better to start from scratch. The design can be almost anything the designer wants it to be, as long as it holds true to some element of the brand’s DNA. Stephenson shows this element in his X5 sketch as a deep, straight line down the vehicle’s flank and the Hofmeister Kink, which is a kind of double angle in the window by the SUV’s D-Pillar. The team also added lines and shapes into the hood for a more dynamic look. 

Frank Stephenson via YouTube

Though the end result was impressive, Stephenson’s portfolio goes much deeper than just penning a BMW SUV. His name appears on the credits for the Maserati GranSport and MC12, Ferrari FXX, and F430, along with several other cars under the Pininfarina banner—and not to mention his success at McLaren, too.

Got a tip? Send us a note: tips@thedrive.com

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