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Murmuration delivers B2B and consulting services in the domains of tourism, Greentech, and renewable energies. Murmuration combines satellite earth observation data, environmental data, and open data to derive environmental impact indicators.

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No editing, no hashtags: Dispo wants you to live in the moment

Feb 24, 2021

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky ) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie . February 24, 2021 A new company backed by Michael Bloomberg's daughter Emma Bloomberg has been quietly buying political tech firms and going on a hiring spree, as it seeks to create a digital organizing platform that operates " outside of a traditional 'Red/Blue' partisan paradigm ." Neither the existence of the firm, called simply Tech co. for now, nor its high-profile funder have been previously reported, though it's been up and running for at least a year. But a spate of recent job listings seeking data scientists, behavioral scientists and engineers have circulated through the insular political tech whisper mill, sparking curiosity as the startup prepares to emerge from stealth mode this spring. <p>"Tech co. believes that a more equitable world will be built by people with organizing superpowers. To achieve this vision, we are building one seamless, intuitive, and intelligent platform that integrates data, tools, and experiences to give anyone those superpowers," reads one job <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">listing</a> for chief technology officer. The position describes Tech co. as building "a variety of technologies, from mobile apps to enterprise software tools." </p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="1"></div></div></p><p>According to four sources familiar with the company, Tech co. grew out of Emma Bloomberg's philanthropic firm Murmuration, a nonprofit dedicated to public education reform. Murmuration declined to comment for this story, but in a May 2020 podcast <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">interview</a>, its vice president of communications Brian Reich said, "We provide data and analytics and strategic support to organizations working to improve public education in this country. "</p><p>In the interview, Reich said Murmuration wanted to give local campaigns that have the potential to impact public education the same access to sophisticated data analysis tools that national campaigns have. "It's very rare that you see an integrated platform or intelligent data being used in advocacy campaigns and municipal-level races," Reich said. </p><p>Tech co. appears to have broader ambitions than just education reform. "Tech co. is the non-education specific version of the same thing," one source familiar with the company's plans said. The source said the company wants to use its philanthropic funding not just to build and acquire products, but to invest heavily in research and experimentation that will inform its tools. One job <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">listing</a> from October sought a behavioral scientist capable of designing randomized controlled trials.</p><p>What makes Tech co. unique among most political or advocacy firms — but perhaps fitting for a Bloomberg-backed outfit — is the fact that it's recruiting and acquiring from both the left and the right. In 2019, Murmuration acquired a data analytics and CRM software firm called Crowdskout, which <a href=";txt=Crowdskout+LLC&amp;cycle=2018" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">worked</a> with the Republican National Committee before the 2018 midterms. But it also bought a company called Organizer, which built a canvassing <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">app</a> backed in part by Democratic mega-donor and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. Now, both of those tools are part of Tech co.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="2"></div></div></p><p>"Tech co. is building on the foundation of products including Organizer, Crowdskout, and other existing tools and products," one job <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">listing</a> reads. "We are building capabilities that live beyond a 4-year election cycle, and outside of a traditional 'Red/Blue' partisan paradigm. "</p><p>Another listing <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">described</a> Tech co.'s clients as "organizations engaged in political and social advocacy" that work "on a multi-partisan basis. "</p><p>More recently, following the 2020 election, Tech co. also acquired Tuesday Company, a firm that spun out of Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and made a tech-based organizing app called Team. Tuesday Company's CEO Michael Luciani wouldn't confirm that Tech co. was the buyer, but in an email to Protocol, he said the company changed ownership at the end of 2020 and is continuing operations. "We were purchased by an issue advocacy group, and they are using our relational organizing tech to strengthen their ability to build communities," Luciani said. </p><p>The party-blind nature of this work is unusual. Political vendors, both in the digital space and outside of it, have historically operated on opposite sides of a firewall, rarely taking on clients in competing parties. Intra-party rifts between challengers and incumbents have at times created <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">awkward</a> dynamics for companies selling their services even within a single party.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="3"></div></div></p><p>"My understanding is it's definitely non-partisan, but it's Bloomberg-y, so, pretty progressive," said one Democratic digital strategist familiar with the company's work.</p><p>Tech co. has recently been hiring aggressively from both the private sector and the insular world of political tech. The company's CEO, Evan Burfield, previously ran a political tech incubator called 1776 in Washington. Another top executive, Dan McSwain, worked on President Obama's 2008 digital team. The company has also lured talent away from some of the biggest players in the Democratic data space, including BlueLabs Analytics. </p><p>Tech co. is certainly not the first company to try to create an all-in-one tech platform for campaigns and advocacy groups. It's not even the first to do it with the support of a mega-rich donor. Before the 2016 election, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt invested in a similar firm, called The Groundwork, which also tried to build a one-stop-shop for digital organizers large and small. It landed some work with the Clinton campaign, but shortly after the election, its funding dried up, and it went out of business. </p><p>More recently, <a href="" target="_self">Alloy</a>, a Reid Hoffman-backed political data firm that wanted to give progressive advocacy and voter registration groups access to better data, also <a href="" target="_self">closed up</a> shop. And then there was Hawkfish, the Michael Bloomberg-backed data firm that worked on the former New York City mayor's presidential campaign in 2020, before <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">shutting</a> down earlier this year. Sources familiar with Tech co. say the company is not related to Hawkfish.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="4"></div></div></p><p>"If we've learned nothing else from this last year, and particularly if Bloomberg learned nothing else from this last year, it's that no donor, no matter how rich, is going to fund something indefinitely," the Democratic digital operative said.</p>Tech co. may have advantages that those firms did not. For one thing, its acquisition strategy means it already owns a suite of tools that campaigns and organizations on both sides of the aisle have used. That could help the company avoid being seen as just another Big Tech interloper, a reputation other recent digital and data firms have <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">found difficult to shake</a>. Sources say the company is also hoping that its deep-pocketed philanthropic funding could help it overcome one of the biggest challenges that political tech firms face: the fact that elections only come around every few years. In between, companies still need to survive. From Your Site Articles Image: Original by Damian Zaleski February 21, 2021 February 8, 2021 Every business leader knows you can learn the most about your customers and partners by meeting them face-to-face. But in the wake of Covid-19, the kinds of conversations that were taking place over coffee, meals and in company halls are now relegated to video conferences—which can be less effective for nurturing relationships—and email. Email inboxes, with hard-to-search threads and siloed messages, not only slow down communication but are also an easy target for scammers. Earlier this year, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages. <p>To keep the lines of communication wide open in this new reality, organizations are adopting new cloud solutions at a rate CIOs expected to see years from now. In fact, 79% of CIOs agree that the pandemic will force their organizations to digitally transform faster than planned, according to <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">J.P. Morgan</a>. </p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="1"></div></div></p><p>But executive leaders know it takes more than just adopting a communication platform or software bundle to build relationships remotely. You have to find the <em>right</em> solution that meets both your internal and external collaboration needs. That's why competitive businesses today are turning to Slack, the <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">channel-based messaging platform, </a>to close communication gaps with partners and customers in the age of remote work. Companies can securely collaborate with external parties using <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Slack channels</a>, a single place to share files and messages, in the same <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Slack workspace</a> through <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Slack Connect</a>.</p><p>With Slack Connect, organizations can build stronger customer and partner relationships through real-time communication. And unlike email—which leaves users open to the risk of spam and phishing—companies and external parties receive communications only from <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">verified members in Slack channels</a>. Plus, Slack workspace administrators can maintain control over data and monitor external access. </p><p>Here's a closer look at how teams at Stripe, Xero and ModSquad are using Slack Connect to engage customers, prospects and partners in real-time and close deals faster. </p><h4>Stripe: Expediting sales deals while building lasting relationships with customers</h4><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Stripe</a> is an online payment provider with a mission to support e-commerce. The Stripe sales team works with early-stage startups all the way through global Fortune 500 companies, and uses Slack Connect to engage with customers, keep communication organized and teams in sync, and jump on sales opportunities.</p><p>Jeanne DeWitt Grosser, head of Americas revenue and growth at Stripe, says communicating with prospective customers in Slack has been instrumental in maintaining engagement and closing deals.</p><p class="pull-quote">"Historically, the gold standard of a deep relationship in sales was getting the person on text," says DeWitt Grosser. "Now the gold standard is getting them into a Slack channel. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="2"></div></div></p><p>Usually at the beginning of a sale, DeWitt Grosser explains, reps used to double down on communication using the "law of 2x." Essentially, you start with a meeting and then follow up a week later. But this strategy no longer makes the cut: A lot could change in a week, and Slack is more in line with the tempo of the digital workplace. </p><p>"In Slack channels, the dialogue with the prospect happens in real time, as opposed to the next time you align your schedules," DeWitt Grosser says. "This kind of personal, persistent connection grows customer loyalty and retention. "</p><p>Often sales reps have to communicate with a variety of departments to seal the deal. Instead of emailing them separately and creating silos, Stripe's account executives and solution architects set up a Slack channel with key customer stakeholders, like developers, the head of payments and a finance representative. </p><p>"When you need to move quickly, email is not the right format: It's more formal and responses take longer," says James Dyett, Stripe's head of global product sales and payments optimizations. "Slack has super powers. It's a much better experience." </p><h4>Xero: Working with external partners like they're on the same team</h4><p>If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it's that relationships matter. Whether it's launching a marketing campaign with a partner or hiring contractors to complete a specific project, we can't—and shouldn't—try to do everything ourselves. <br><br>When it comes to nurturing partnerships in the midst of the pandemic, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Xero</a>, a cloud-based accounting software company, affirms that working in Slack Connect has been a game changer. Justine Wallendorf, New Zealand partner marketing manager at Xero, says Slack Connect helped her team launch a joint online marketing campaign with partners, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Figured</a> and <a href="http://paysauce" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Paysauce</a>. </p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="3"></div></div></p><p>The three companies were offering a complete software solution for farmers looking to manage their business digitally. By coming together in one Slack channel, #xero-partners, the sales and marketing teams across all three businesses could connect and ensure alignment on: </p><ul class="ee-ul"><li>Immediate universal access to all campaign details</li><li>Consistent messaging across sales enablement deliverables, such as one pagers and slide decks</li><li>Quick feedback and turnaround times for deliverables</li><li>Clear leadership signoffs</li></ul><p class="pull-quote">"Working in Slack Connect guaranteed that everyone was beating the same drum and speaking the same language, positioning our partnership as best as possible in the market," Wallendorf says.</p><h4>ModSquad: Winning customer loyalty with exceptional customer support</h4><p>With so much uncertainty in the world, efficient and reliable customer support is akin to a safe harbor in a storm. That's why Slack customer, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">ModSquad</a> has its support teams troubleshoot customer issues in real time with Slack Connect.</p><p>As a customer experience outsourcer, ModSquad knows good customer service. Each day, ModSquad's global crew of experts—the Mods—help their customers engage with their audiences online through customer support, content moderation, community management and social media. </p><p>ModSquad works with its clients in Slack Connect to set up service level agreements and incorporate support dashboards. With the <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Geckoboard Slack integration</a>, ModSquad monitors clients' incoming calls and chats—without ever leaving Slack. Whenever the team sees an uptick in activity or service impacting issues, they can quickly alert clients and internal teams for quick resolution. The team also relies on a <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Zendesk Slack integration</a> to track service desk tickets, troubleshoot and resolve issues.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="4"></div></div></p><p>According to Steve Henry, senior vice president, client services at ModSquad, Slack channels also help build a culture of transparent communication and trust with clients.</p><p>"Establishing trust with our clients is very important, and Slack provides a crucial component for all of our efforts" Henry says. "With Slack, we can provide world-class support solutions and improvements for our clients, driving efficiencies while growing their business in the process. "</p><h4>In an all-remote world, Slack Connect builds strong partnerships</h4><p>Slack Connect is available for <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">all paid plans</a>. If you're already a customer but new to Slack Connect, feel free to <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reach out</a> or learn more on <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">how to get started</a>. And if you want to see how others are using Slack Connect to work with external partners, check out a few of our recent <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">customer stories</a>. </p> Keep ReadingShow less January 26, 2021 Twitter was once a home for 140-character missives about your lunch. Now, it's something like the real-time nerve center of the internet. But as for what Twitter wants to be going forward? It's slightly more complicated. In just the last few months, Twitter has rolled out Fleets, a Stories-like feature; started testing an audio-only experience called Spaces; and acquired the podcast app Breaker and the video chat app Squad. And on Tuesday, Twitter announced it was acquiring Revue, a newsletter platform. The whole 140-characters thing (which is now 280 characters, by the way) is certainly not Twitter's organizing principle anymore. So what is? <p>Twitter was always just about speed. The initial 140-character limit that became associated with the platform was a technical limitation — required to fit everything into a text message, then the quickest way to reach people — not a statement about brevity being the soul of anything. Many of the moves Twitter has made over the years have been in service of making Twitter even faster: faster to show users good stuff with algorithms, faster to publish with Fleets, faster to spread information with RTs and quote tweets. Even when Twitter decides not to do something, the reasons usually come back to speed. Take the much-desired edit button: One reason Jack Dorsey has given <a href="" target="_blank">for not including one</a> is that it "means we'd have to delay sending that tweet out … we'll probably never do it. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="1"></div></div></p><p>Rather than think of Twitter as a social network or a 140-character writing tool, it's helpful to think of Twitter the way Dorsey does. "At its core Twitter is public messaging," he <a href="" target="_blank">said in 2016</a>. "A simple way to say something, to anyone, that everyone in the world can see instantly." </p><p>That tweet came in part in response to <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">a Recode story</a> that claimed Twitter was considering expanding its text limit to 10,000 characters. Dorsey didn't quite acknowledge the plan, but he didn't shoot the report down, either. He also explained why longer-form text might be a powerful part of Twitter. "We've spent a lot of time observing what people are doing on Twitter, and we see them taking screenshots of text and tweeting it," he tweeted (in a Notes app screenshot, of course). "Instead, what if that text … was actually text? Text that could be searched. Text that could be highlighted. That's more utility and power." </p><p>Increasingly, Twitter is also thinking about what Twitter looks like outside of its own apps. With Project Bluesky, the company is investigating turning Twitter into a protocol rather than a platform, so the Twitter that users know today would be just one way to tap into the social graph and content flowing through it. And with Revue, Twitter is heading into users' email inboxes. Revue appears to be a good fit at Twitter, actually: Its platform has always focused on curation, making it easy for newsletter writers to grab a bunch of links, add commentary and send it to subscribers. Which sounds an awful lot like Twitter — only longer.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="2"></div></div></p><p>The Revue acquisition, and some of Twitter's other recent moves, also make clear where the company is headed as a business. It's leaning into working with creators, trying to help people build audiences and make money on the platform so that they'll keep spending time there. Twitter is way behind on this front. Twitter is, for most creators, a marketing vehicle, a public way to send fans to the Instagram/Twitch/TikTok/Substacks that make them actual money. </p><p>By acquiring a newsletter provider, Twitter brings at least one part of that in-house. "Revue will accelerate our work to help people stay informed about their interests while giving all types of writers a way to monetize their audience," Twitter's Kayvon Beykpour and Mike Park wrote in <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">the blog post</a> announcing the acquisition. The same could soon be true for Breaker with podcasts, and Spaces with audio events. If 280-character Twitter can continue to be a powerful marketing engine, but all that marketing can drive toward Twitter's other, higher-fidelity messaging tools, Twitter stands to be a useful home for lots of creators. And, of course, if creators stay, so do users.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="3"></div></div></p><p>When Dorsey said last year that Twitter was thinking about what <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">a subscription model for Twitter</a> might look like, these are almost certainly the products he was thinking about. "$9.99 a month for the really good tweets" is a tricky line to walk for an ad-based business, and it's not in line with the way Dorsey has always thought about Twitter. (After all, is there anything slower than a paywall?) But paid newsletters, paid podcasts, ticketed Spaces events and all manner of other similar products could add new revenue streams. Twitter could also be trying to make money from creators themselves, too: It has at least <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">run surveys</a> asking how users would feel about paying to upload longer videos, get better analytics, or add custom badges to their profile. </p><p>There's no guarantee any of this will work. Twitter's history with integrating new products is spotty, and many creators are still wary of the company after it was so quick to kill Vine. But this is what Twitter wants to be: the internet's universal communication tool, with all the new features that requires.</p> From Your Site Articles Mike Murphy ( @mcwm ) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics. February 23, 2021 There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain. Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus. <p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="1"></div></div></p><p>But building a system that everyone agrees with — and can access — is no small task. There are several companies working on competing projects to verify vaccinations. But beyond that, there are more than a few hurdles that could prevent vaccine passports from succeeding, from antiquated medical records systems to interoperability issues and privacy concerns. Here's how they could actually succeed. </p><h3>Competing projects, similar standards</h3><p>Pretty much since the first blockchain white paper, people have been looking for perfect examples of where a distributed, immutable ledger could be valuable. There's obviously the push to use it for currencies, and companies have tried to use it for things like tracking <a href="" target="_self">food production</a> and <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">voting</a>, but there are few use cases that have truly taken off, at least so far. "We've been working on this since 2014; we never thought that health care would be the kind of the use case that we take this mainstream," Jamie Smith, the senior director of business development at Evernym, a company focused on using the blockchain as a basis for verifying identities, told Protocol. </p><p>Smith said Evernym had been discussing its concepts with automakers, retailers, telcos, governments, loyalty companies and banks prior to the pandemic. One of those companies was IAG, the airline group that owns British Airways, which had been interested in the idea of contactless travel based on a single identity credential that follows you from the airport check-in to your gate. With the pandemic, that morphed into thinking about ways to verify that passengers have had negative COVID tests, and eventually, that they've received a vaccine. "From our perspective, it was a really easy lift to see," Smith said. "We're doing contactless travel, and we just added verifiable credentials for test results. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="2"></div></div></p><p>It's a similar genesis for IBM's Digital Health Pass initiative, which leader Eric Piscini said started about two years ago as a way to store people's entire health records in a safe, accessible platform. It also relies on the blockchain for its immutable record of proof, and both Evernym and IBM are part of an open-standards group called the Good Health Pass Collaborative, which aims to bring private credentialed vaccine records to business and people around the world. Companies are working on their own implementations of the standards, but Evernym's Smith said the data is meant to be portable from one passport to another. </p><p>Most of the companies working on passports say their systems are private by design, especially given that they're mainly working off the same open standards. In most cases, the health information only ever remains on a user's phone, but where it asks to verify that the user's information meets a system's standards — such as whether this person has had two COVID vaccines and should be allowed into an office — that information is recorded on a blockchain. "You can, using blockchain technologies, verify that someone has been tested recently, without having access to the underlying data," Piscini said. "I don't know any other technology where you can do that. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="3"></div></div></p><p>Similarly, the nonprofit Commons Project's CommonPass, backed by the likes of Oracle, Microsoft and Salesforce, started out as a project to bring an analog to Apple Health for Android. JP Pollak, a senior researcher at Cornell and founder of the Commons Project, first launched CommonHealth to bring the sort of data and insights that Apple Health offers to iPhone owners to Android users. Last summer, the group started building an app that could take health data and privately share it with others — in that case, it was to help truckers stuck at the borders in <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">East African countries</a> who couldn't easily prove they'd taken COVID tests. This morphed into vaccine credentialing, with the group now working to pull together the various data streams needed to get a project like this off the ground. </p><p>"Health care institutions, EMR vendors, retail pharmacies, state vaccine registries, all issuing people a digital verifiable credential of their vaccination record that they could then use in the app of their choice, to be able to get access to various kinds of services," Pollak said. CommonPass is also working with the Mayo Clinic, as well as Epic Systems and Cerner, two of the largest EMR vendors. </p><h3>Something for everyone </h3><p>With so many competing efforts to become the world's digital vaccine passport, it might seem that the country is heading for some sort of VHS versus Betamax format war for proving everyone has had COVID vaccines. But given that so many of the efforts are using the same standards, and in many cases, looking to embed their tech in someone else's app rather than their own, the race might be less about the best tech winning, and more about various approaches working in different situations. </p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="4"></div></div></p><p>"The intent is not to be the only company; we don't want to be the proprietary platform that everybody has to use because they have no choice," IBM's Piscini said. "That's not who we are right now: That's the IBM from 30 years ago, not the IBM of today. "</p><p>For IBM, though, the selling point is that the company already works with so many other massive companies. Why look elsewhere for a vaccine passport solution if your airline booking system is already powered by IBM? "We believe our network is going to be more valuable than any other because of our scale and our ability to integrate the platform with CRM systems, building systems or stadium systems — we can do that every day," Piscini said.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="" id="c81c9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3967636652192acfdaad341861263bc8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"> <small class="image-media media-caption" placeholder="Add Photo Caption...">IATA's digital passport app.</small><small class="image-media media-photo-credit" placeholder="Add Photo Credit...">Photo: IATA</small></p><p>For other companies, it's about securing new partnerships with major players in the hopes of finding that scale. Evernym, for example, is working with International Air Transport Association, the airline industry's trade association, on an air travel-specific app called Travel Pass. IATA is working with airlines and local governments to ensure it has the latest requirements to feed the app's rules engine. "It will say, 'Hey, you're flying JFK to Heathrow, you need a PCR test 48 hours in advance before you can land,'" Evernym's Smith said. "And of course, those policy changes are changing every day." Qatar, Emirates and Etihad Airways are all <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">expected</a> to start trialing the app in the next few weeks.<br></p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="5"></div></div></p><p>In other instances, the technology will live inside other companies' existing apps; why make someone download yet another app and add another hurdle to compliance? Instead, the experience will be rather like adding a loyalty account or TSA PreCheck number when booking a flight. Airlines and other venues restricting access will require uploading negative test results or vaccine records using one of these services. "You're going to be using the United or the Delta app, and they'll be using our solution or somebody else's, but you will do it via their app," IATA's Travel Pass lead, Alan Murray Hayden, told Protocol.</p><p>The World Health Organization is also working on its own offering, and recently convened the <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Smart Vaccination Certificate Working Group</a>. It's built upon the WHO's nearly century-old notion of the "yellow card" vaccination record, which first was used to document that travelers had been inoculated against diseases such as cholera and yellow fever. Evernym Chief Trust Officer Drummond Reed is part of the working group; he said there should be more to share in the coming months. </p><h3>What could go wrong?</h3><p>It's entirely possible that as more people start to get vaccinated, vaccine passports start to become the norm. You walk to work — still masked, of course — scan a QR code reader in the lobby, and are let in. You go out for lunch, and your loyalty card app has a discount for in-store shoppers verifying they're vaccinated. Your concert ticket is also tied to health pass information that you shared earlier in the day with Ticketmaster. But there are more than a few hurdles ahead of the companies rushing to turn these concepts into realities. </p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="6"></div></div></p><p>First off, there's the … reality … of the real world that any digital system has to contend with. For anyone without access to the internet, digital vaccine credentials will prove difficult to acquire, though all the companies Protocol spoke with said they would offer a paper-based QR code for people who don't have smartphones. But there's also the issue of having to corral so many different stakeholders into one system, especially when some health care providers are still reliant on antiquated database systems or <a href="" target="_self">even paper records</a>. "The amount of inefficiency in the system is tremendous," IBM's Piscini said. </p><p>But in the U.S. at least, all vaccinators are required to report COVID-19 vaccines to their state. Piscini said that even for people who just received a paper copy of their vaccine records, systems like IBM's can likely link up to the state's immunization registry and allow people to import records to a vaccine passport.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="" id="b0bd3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="11d8002d92c0cd6ef39b12fc7b8dccf8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"> <small class="image-media media-caption" placeholder="Add Photo Caption...">How CommonPass's app shows your records. </small><small class="image-media media-photo-credit" placeholder="Add Photo Credit...">Image: CommonPass</small></p><p>And states are willing to help out, Pollak said, adding that CommonPass has started working with Hawaii to roll out its offering for would-be tourists. "We're seeing a lot of state governments stepping up and doing a really good job with this," Pollak said. "It would be surprising if there wasn't a coordinated federal effort very soon." That being said, while <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">many countries around</a> the world are committing to working on vaccine passports, getting a straight answer out of the U.S. government on what it's doing has proven difficult. The State Department, which maintains America's traditional, analogue passports, referred me to Homeland Security, which referred me to the White House. The acting director and chief of staff of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, Kei Koizumi, told Protocol that "OSTP can't discuss projects we are working on before they are publicly announced. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="7"></div></div></p><p>But even with systems in place at a federal level, there's still a fair amount of education that needs to happen before people will trust systems like these. "There's a substantial gap in understanding and knowledge of how these systems work, and people's views, in terms of who should get access to which data," Pollak said. </p><p>"We assume there's a Facebook Borg in the sky, monitoring every interaction," Smith said. "The emergence of verifiable credentials breaks down that mental model, where actually it becomes more like decentralized bits of paper that I can carry around, and no one's to know that I've been sharing this information. "</p><p>"Our belief is that if you do the right thing, from a platform point of view, protecting your privacy, and giving you control and access to the platform to everybody who wants to use it," Piscini said. "I think those are very basic things that allow the core of the platform that we build to generate adoption by the individuals. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="8"></div></div></p><p>Even with a system that works, there may still be holdouts to this potential new normal. "Some people are saying, 'I will never get vaccinated,'" Piscini said, "and I don't know if the airlines are going to say, 'Well, maybe you will never fly again. '"</p> From Your Site Articles Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky ) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie . January 16, 2021 Joan Donovan has a panic button in her office, just in case one of the online extremists she spends her days fighting tries to fight back. "This is not baby shit," Donovan, who is research director of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said. "You do not fuck around with these people in public." <p>Which is why Donovan has been so worried about what she's seen happening online in the days since a violent mob overtook the U.S. Capitol. Scores of amateur sleuths are combing through terabytes of footage and openly trading tips on Twitter in hopes of piecing together the rioters' identities and bringing them to justice. To Donovan, these Twitter detectives aren't just running the risk of misidentifying innocent people; they may also unknowingly be putting themselves at risk by publicly pursuing potentially dangerous people.</p><p>Even more worrisome to Donovan: the role some prominent researchers are playing in organizing the hunt. So this week, she went on Twitter and shared some blunt words of warning. "This is one of the most dangerous uses of social media by a researcher," Donovan <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">wrote</a>. "Research ethics now. We must hold each other to account. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="1"></div></div></p><p>Her remarks were directed at another academic, John Scott-Railton of the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, who has gained a following for his crowdsourced investigations of the riot, which most notably led to the successful identification of an Air Force veteran who was photographed in full tactical gear on the floor of the Senate. Two days after The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow used Scott-Railton's tip to <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">confirm</a> the veteran's identity and published a story with his findings, the suspect was arrested in Texas. </p><p>Scott-Railton shares Donovan's concerns — and admires her work — but says those concerns have led him to a different conclusion. He argues that in the wake of any public event caught on camera, be it a confrontation on a bike trail or the Boston Marathon bombing, there are bound to be crowds of extremely online people using digital techniques to assign blame. His goal is to harness that energy in productive ways and model appropriate behavior. </p><p>"I think the conversation has to be one that involves being very intentional in thinking about harm reduction and in trying to do one's best to always model the behavior you want to see from others," he said, noting that he has repeatedly urged his followers not to name potential suspects on Twitter and, instead, to funnel any specific names to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. </p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="2"></div></div></p><p>Besides, with the inauguration around the corner and the vast majority of the Capitol rioters still on the loose, Scott-Railton argues it's critically important to use the power of crowdsourcing to stop those people from committing any more violence. "There may be people who intend to do violent things around the inauguration," he said. "We urgently need to understand who they are. "</p><p>The Capitol riot was a boundary-busting event in almost every way, and its impact on the digital privacy debate was no different. The insurrectionists' acts were so galling, so frightening, that suddenly, even those who might oppose digital surveillance and forensics techniques in other contexts, like, say, identifying peaceful protesters at a Black Lives Matter rally, feel justified in deploying those tools against the rioters. The shifting goalposts have sparked a tense debate among researchers of online extremism about the right way to stitch together the digital scraps of someone's life to publicly accuse them of committing a crime — or whether there is a right way at all.</p><p>Shortly after the riot, Vivian Schiller, executive director of the Aspen Institute's digital department, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">asked</a> her followers a question on Twitter and stressed that it was not rhetorical: "Is there such a thing as 'ethical doxxing'?" </p><p>"Not really," replied Kate Klonick, an assistant professor of law at St. John's University, who studies online content moderation. </p><p>Others disagreed vehemently. "Yes, absolutely," wrote Sasha Costanza-Chock, an associate professor of civic media at MIT. "I would argue that in fact we have an ethical responsibility to expose people who are literal nazis and ensure there are consequences for their actions. Of course, this requires extreme care to verify so that innocents are not wrongfully accused. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="3"></div></div></p><p>Scott-Railton tends to see things that way, as does Aric Toler, a researcher with the group Bellingcat, which has been archiving vast troves of footage of the riot to help with identification. "The crowdsourcing element is obviously powerful and can go both ways, but I think it's overall more positive than not," Toler said. </p><p>The Capitol riot was virtually unprecedented in terms of the amount of digital exhaust it gave off. That's partly to do with the fact that the uprising was largely organized on social media, partly to do with the fact that some of the rioters were there <a href="" target="_self">explicitly to broadcast their actions</a> on social media and partly to do with the fact that Parler, the go-to social platform of the far-right, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">had a bug</a> that enabled a hacker to <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">scrape and archive</a> every public post and GPS coordinate before deletion.</p><p>Now, before anyone can get named and blamed, there's a virtual ton of information to sift through first. Toler sees much of the crowdsourcing work going on as a responsible way to divvy up the labor. "A lot of the work is just around sifting through ungodly amounts of photos and videos," Toler said.</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="4"></div></div></p><p>Of course, a lot of it isn't. Already, a retired Chicago firefighter was <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">wrongly accused </a>of being involved in the riot, after Twitter detectives digitally enhanced a blurry photo of a man throwing a fire extinguisher at a cop and accused him of being "Extinguisher Man." In fact, he was back in Chicago, he said, celebrating his wife's birthday. "This story has fucked my life up," the man told a local news outlet.</p><p>Both Scott-Railton and Bellingcat had been seeking footage of that suspect on Twitter before he was misidentified. Though neither of them encouraged their followers to name names, and in some cases even actively discouraged it, the effort went sideways anyway. </p><p>That's to be expected, Donovan argues. Once you animate a crowd around a particular purpose, it's impossible to control what they'll do next, which she says is all the more reason for researchers to avoid such public investigations in the first place. "I have this overarching thesis that the internet turns us all into cops," Donovan said. "These are technologies of surveillance, and so use of them by the public to turn crowds into cops seems to me to be a very dangerous impulse. "</p><p>That's to say nothing of the danger amateur investigators put themselves in, Donovan said. For all of the digital records the rioters have left behind, she stresses that the people looking into them often have their own digital trail that leaves them vulnerable to retaliation. "Say you identify some neo-Nazi militia member and think you're doing a good job, but you have your kid's birthday photos up on a Flickr account, which has the geotag of the apartment complex that you live in," Donovan said. "People don't understand how much is being revealed about them as they participate in these public campaigns. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="5"></div></div></p><p>It's not that only trained researchers or law enforcement should be able to do this work. Donovan argues there's a way to carry out crowdsourced investigations in private channels, where participants are educated about the risks they're taking and how to protect themselves. Anything less, she argues, is malpractice. "If you don't educate people before you call them into action," Donovan said, "you put them at risk. "</p><p>Scott-Railton has tailored his approach somewhat in response to feedback from Donovan and others. For one thing, he's begun <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">deleting</a> old threads investigating people who have already been arrested to avoid leaving any misleading leads out in the open. He's also since deleted the tweet that Donovan first called him out on, in which he was seeking footage of people wearing earpieces at the riot. Donovan pointed out that such a directive could risk outing members of the media, who also regularly wear earpieces.</p><p>Perhaps, most importantly, on Thursday night, he <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">tweeted</a> an official notice to his now more than 100,000 followers. He told them that he was now moving to a "form-based intake model" for tips, in collaboration with Bellingcat, writing, "I feel this approach better balances the *many* reasonable concerns about a participatory &amp; crowdsourced model done on Twitter. "</p><p><div class="ad-tag"><div class="ad-place-holder" data-pos="6"></div></div></p> From Your Site Articles

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