This month in technology: Deutsche Bank’s Google Cloud partnership and Trump administration may ban TikTok

The latest news, insight and analysis from the general technology sector

TfL trials Covid-19 thermal imaging checks

Transport for London (TfL) has fitted thermal imaging technology across a swathe of its bus network to identify potential Covid-19 cases.

The technology will be trialled with bus operators including Metroline and Abellio, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan looks to successfully manage and quell a potential second spike in the capital, reports City AM.

The cameras use infrared technology to detect small changes in temperature. An increased temperature is a key symptom of Covid-19, along with coughing and loss of smell and taste.

Claire Mann, TfL director of bus operations, said: “We are trialling a range of temperature testing equipment for drivers and staff at a number of our bus garages to see if they can play a role in our commitment to protect our staff and customers during the pandemic.

“We’re working with the Transport Research Laboratory, Unite the Union, and several bus operators on these trials, and will make a decision on whether to widely introduce any of these measures as more data on their effectiveness becomes available,” she added.

TfL’s move to introduce thermal imaging follows the implementation of UV light cleaning across the Underground network in an attempt to disrupt the genetic material of the virus and prevent its spread.

Google secures 10-year cloud deal with Deutsche Bank

Google is set to seal a 10-year agreement with Deutsche Bank to provide Germany’s largest lender with cloud computing technology.

The pair have signed a non-binding letter of intent and plan to conclude the contract signing later this year, reports Bloomberg.

Details regarding how much Deutsche Bank will pay Google were not disclosed, nor were the cost savings the Frankfurt-headquartered firm expected to make through the agreement.

Under the remit of the partnership, the companies are also set to make joint investments in technology, and potentially assimilating engineers from both groups to develop products in tandem.

Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing said: “The partnership with Google Cloud will be an important driver of our strategic transformation. It is as much a revenue story as it is about costs.”

Sundar Pichai, Alphabet CEO, added: “We’re excited about our strategic partnership and the opportunity for Google Cloud to be helpful to Deutsche Bank and its clients as they grow their business and shape the future of the financial services industry.”

Lithuania launches blockchain-based digital currency

Lithuania has become the first nation in the Eurozone to launch a central bank-produced digital currency.

The LBCOIN, which is based on blockchain technology, was put on pre-sale earlier this month with 24,000 digital tokens, each attached with a portrait of one of the 20 people who signed Lithuania’s 1918 declaration of independence.

The tokens will be sold in packs of six for €99, with collectors able to build specific sets which can be exchanged for a credit card-sized physical silver coin with a nominal worth of €19.18.

The LBCOINs can be exchanged directly with the central bank, or with other collectors across blockchain networks.

The move to introduce this additional form of central bank digital currency edges the eastern European state further towards a cashless society.

Marius Jurgilar, deputy governor of Lithuania’s central bank, said: “No one in the central bank community was thinking about digital currency seriously before we realised that there is a legitimate threat that someone else will take our space. We need to provide society with what it wants.”

Trump administration could ban TikTok

The US is “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including the hugely popular TikTok, confirmed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

There are privacy concerns over the short-form video platform, with suggestions that user data is being handed to the Chinese state. TikTok is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance.

During an interview with Fox News, Pompeo said of a potential ban: “I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at.”

When pressed on whether he would recommend Americans to use TikTok, he retorted: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

In response, TikTok told Reuters that it had never provided user data to China.

A statement read: “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”


4G-enabled weather balloons fly high in Kenya

A fleet of polyethylene balloons the size of tennis courts have launched in Kenya to provide a 4G network to a 31,000 square mile area in the east African nation.

Loon, a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet, launched the balloons some 12 miles up into the stratosphere to bring internet connectivity to central and western Kenya, including the capital Nairobi.

The balloons act as floating network towers powered by solar panels and controlled by software on the ground. They last for more than 100 days before returning to earth.

The project is being run in partnership with Telkom Kenya and is the first commercial use of the Loon technology.

Previously, the balloons had been used in emergency situations such as in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Speaking to the New York Times, Alastair Westgarth, Loon CEO, said: “Kenya is an ideal place for us to begin this new era of stratospheric communications.

“The country has been incredibly innovative about finding new ways to connect unconnected populations. As a new, innovative technology, this is a great fit,” he added.

4G | Blockchain | China | Data | Google Cloud