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Sidewalk Map Shows Challenge of Staying 6 Feet Apart in NYC

Plus, the dramatic jump in Internet traffic from COVID-19, a new tool from Microsoft that identifies politically incorrect language online and a device that prevents digital home assistants from always listening.

People in line while social distancing
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6 Feet

As shelter-in-place orders have become the norm and maintaining a 6-foot distance from others in public spaces the standard for combating the novel coronavirus, what has become clear is that social distancing in urban areas is no small task. In New York City, developer Meli Harvey designed a map using NYC Open Data that measures the width of sidewalks throughout the city and color-codes them based on how easily they allow for that 6-foot margin between pedestrians. The result confirms what New Yorkers anecdotally believed to be true: Keeping far enough apart to slow the spread of COVID-19 is easier said than done.
Source: The Verge

I Think I'm Paranoid

Smart assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home make it easy to do things like add to a shopping list or play music with a simple voice command, but what about all those things you don’t want your device listening in on as it scans for activation words? A tool called Paranoid hopes to make it a little more difficult for Alexa or Google to spy. It connects to a smart speaker and prevents it from eavesdropping unless you tell it to. To disable the noise-blocking, say “Paranoid” before a device’s regular activation command.
Source: Digital Trends

AI Editing

A new Web browser extension from Microsoft, called Editor, aims to ensure that what you’re saying online is neither insensitive nor politically incorrect. Similar to an existing function in Microsoft Word, the AI-powered Editor will suggest an alternative to a gendered term: It may prompt you to type “police officer” instead of “policeman,” for example, or “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person.” The feature also flags potential plagiarism and works on popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Source: Fast Company

77%

The increase in website hits across the Internet in March as social distancing and/or shelter-in-place orders swept the globe, according to tech research firm Omida.
Source: Forbes

 

Lauren Harrison is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 10 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.
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