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School districts are transforming buses into wifi hotspots for students without internet
Photo by Jose Alonso on Unsplash

If you see school buses parked around your city and get confused because schools are closed, no worries. It's likely that those buses are pumping out wifi for students who otherwise struggle for internet access.

With schools shut down across the country, school districts have had to scramble to figure out how to provide online schooling quickly. That's no simple task, and the transition has been a rocky one for administrators, teachers, parents, and kids. For families without the technology that enables that transition, it's been even harder.


Since online learning is the only way students can stay connected to schools and teachers, internet is a vital service. But despite the ubiquity of internet providers, not all families can afford internet. Even in places where internet providers are offering free wifi to families who can't afford it, some still can't afford the hardware—modems, routers—that enable them to take advantage of it.

School districts across the nation are addressing part of this issue by transforming their now-empty school buses into mobile wifi hotspots to bring online access to students. School bus hotspots fill a gap for families that aren't able to get wifi in their homes, for whatever reason. And though the idea isn't new—some districts have been using wifi-enabled buses as hotspots for years—it is becoming widespread during the pandemic.

In Montgomery, Alabama, 11 wifi-enabled buses already have rolled out, six more will go out today, and more will come next week. Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed told WSFA News why the buses are important.

"Because we understand there's a digital divide," he said. "And the coronavirus pandemic that we're into right now has only heightened the chasm that exists between those who can access high-speed internet service and those who can't."

"The idea is that any parent, any child in any neighborhood where they see that yellow school bus, they can access the WiFi hotspot," said MPS Superintendent Dr. Ann Roy Moore. "They don't have to be right down the street from their home. If they're at home, it's fine, but if they're at their grandma's house and there's a bus down the road, they can also access from that location."

The largest school district in Austin, Texas has deployed more than 100 wifi buses around the city through a $600,000 grant from Kajeet, an education technology provider.

"As we prepare for the possibility of extended school closures, we know that an Internet connection is a lifeline and a learning link for our students," Kevin Schwartz, chief technology officer for Austin ISD, said in a news release.

"Austin ISD will be deploying many of our 500+ Kajeet Wi-Fi/Internet enabled school buses to locations around our school district so that students can connect using our district Chromebooks."

The buses do have some limitations, however. The buses in Austin broadcast about 300 feet, so some students may have to go outside of their homes to catch a signal. They are not allowed to board the bus, so inclement weather can make accessing the wifi tricky for some, but it's definitely better than nothing.

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has succeeded in doing is shining a spotlight on existing inequities in our country. School districts in low-income areas that already struggle with funding suddenly have to figure out how to provide computers and internet to students, while many wealthier districts already had laptops or tablets for every student. Thankfully, donors and organizations are stepping up to assist, but addressing the economic inequality underlying the problem will need longer-lasting institutional solutions.

In the meantime, wifi buses are an innovative temporary stopgap for families who can't access the internet otherwise.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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