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DiscoverEU: 20,000 travel passes available for 18-year-olds to explore Europe next summer

Vlad Poptamas

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Today, the Commission is launching a new application round for DiscoverEU travel passes, which allows participants to travel across Europe, learn about its cultural heritage, whilst developing their own knowledge and skills. All 18-year-olds in the European Union have until 28 November 2019 (12.00 CET) to apply for the opportunity to discover Europe between 1 April and 31 October 2020. So far, the Commission has awarded 50,000 travel passes through three application rounds for which 275,000 young people applied.The new round will allow another 20,000 young people to be part of DiscoverEU.

Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “Over one and a half years, DiscoverEU has been creating new opportunities for Europe’s young people to discover their continent. I am very pleased to see how enthusiastically they have responded, forming a true community with their fellow travellers and others. I invite young people from every region in Europe to apply for this new chance to experience the freedom to move across our Union, to develop important skills, to discover our rich cultural heritage and to make new friends.”

Interested DiscoverEU participants can also take part in a number of organised meet-ups and events during their trips and receive a travel journal to write down their experiences. Every year, DiscoverEU activities are organised around a dedicated theme related to the European Union’s priorities. The theme for 2019 is “learning about Europe”. The theme for 2020 will be “Sustainable Green Europe”.

Who can apply and how?

Applicants must be 18 years old on 31 December 2019, EU citizens and be prepared to travel between 1 April 2020 and 31 October 2020 for a maximum period of 30 days. Those interested in taking part can apply via the European Youth Portal until 28 November 2019. An evaluation committee will assess the applications and select the winners. Applicants will be notified of the selection results in January 2020, based on a quiz on general knowledge about the European Union.

Successful applicants will be able to travel individually or in a group of up to five people. As a general rule, they will travel by rail. However, to ensure wide access across the continent, participants can also use alternative modes of transport, such as buses or ferries or, exceptionally, planes. This will ensure that young people living in remote areas or on islands will also have a chance to take part.

Following the new round launched today, the Commission is planning to launch a further application round in the first half of 2020.

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How an SSL certificate is important for small business and Google ranking

Alexandru Marginean

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Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Security is essential for any online business that handles confidential information. But encrypting your website using an SSL certificate can benefit you in other ways. There is evidence to suggest that encrypting your site with SSL can also improve your Google rankings. It’s standard practice now, and it’s a good idea — for both security and marketing reasons.

 

  • The Value of SSL Certificates:

Without encryption, web traffic passes through the internet as clear text. That means that anyone who is nosy or wants to capture sensitive data can see everything you’re sending — passwords, financial data, secret messages. To counteract this problem, website developers now add encryption in the form of SSL certificates. Using a protocol called secure socket layer (SSL) — or the later protocol known as transport layer security (TLS) — SSL certificates act as digital signatures that create trust relationships on the internet.

An SSL certificate uses the critical public infrastructure (PKI) to encrypt traffic between a website user and the server. This is especially important for financial institutions or sites that handle login details or monetary transactions. SSL certificates turn HTTP sites into HTTPS, and address internet security in three ways:

  • Authentication
  • Data integrity
  • Encryption

So, it’s clear that securing your website with an SSL certificate is a wise choice. But what does that have to do with Google search rankings?

 

  • The Google Algorithm:

Every time you enter search criteria into Google and press enter, the company instantly runs a computing process using a mathematical formula called an algorithm. This is a set of rules that helps the computer make decisions. An algorithm can be simple or complex, with hundreds of variables or only one. It tells the machines what calculations to make based on the inputs given.

How does Google algorithm work? Well, we don’t know a complete about it. They keep it secret, like Col. Sanders’ chicken recipe, or the formula for Coca-Cola. We can only make educated guesses about how Google’s algorithm behaves in the search process. What we do know, perhaps by trial, error, or observation, is that websites with SSL certificates rank better than those without them.

 

  • Google Pushes SSL:

On August 6, 2014, Google announced that it was making HTTPS — websites with SSL certificates — a big priority. “Security is a top priority for Google,” they wrote. And Google made all their web pages HTTPS by default. “That means that people using Search, Gmail and Drive, for example, automatically have a secure connection to Google.” The new push involved encouraging all other websites to do the same.

They called it “HTTPS Everywhere”, and in a video, two Google employees explain their campaign. Google encouraged the use of 2048-bit key SSL certificates, and they guided all the steps required to implement SSL certificates. They also changed their algorithm in the past.

 

  • How Do Sites with SSL Certificates Rank? 

According to W3Techs, as this article is written, HTTPS is in use in 56% of all websites. That number is trending upwards as more web developers add SSL certificates to their sites. The effect of SSL certificates on search engine optimization (SEO) is made clear in a 2016 article on the subject by Backlinko. They analyzed one million Google search results, and here is what they found about the use of SSL certificates:

“Although not a super-strong correlation, we did find that HTTPS correlated with higher rankings on Google’s first page.”

Because Google is so secretive with their algorithm, Backlinko had to “reverse engineer” the search engine process to find out what worked best. Their findings match the consensus of experts across the web on the matter: Thus, the use of SSL certificates offers moderate improvement in Google search rankings.

 

  • Reputational Advantage

The positive effects of securing your site with SSL/TLS goes beyond the technical aspects of SEO. It also brings a reputational benefit. Many internet users will avoid websites without the padlock symbol, indicating a secure website:

To drive home their insistence on the use of SSL certificates, Google changed its search box so that unsecure sites are stated to the left of the URL:

Users of secure websites know that they can transact business without worrying about some man-in-the-middle attack. This has more to do with whether people will use your site or move to other sites.

 

Conclusion:

It is clear now that the website holder should buy an SSL certificate and install it on your website. All other things being equal, the presence of an SSL certificate generally becomes a kind of “tie-breaker” rather than a significant Google ranking factor. But the decision to go with an SSL certificate doesn’t rest on rankings alone. Security, reputation, different business validation processes and rankings all contribute to the benefits associated with secure websites. As cybersecurity becomes more prominent around the world, more website owners will see the value of SSL certificates, and will finally take the necessary steps to secure their sites.

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Semafone’s Intelligence+ empowers contact centres with actionable payment transaction analytics

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: aithority.com
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Semafone®, the leading provider of data security and multi-channel compliance solutions for call and contact centres, today announced Intelligence+, a real-time data analytics offering, integrated into its award-winning and patented telephone payments solution – Cardprotect Voice+.

Intelligence+ ensures that Cardprotect Voice+ customers have access to meaningful real-time data from calls and payment transactions as they occur across the contact centre. With advanced analytical capabilities beyond those of standard business intelligence tools, Intelligence+ provides customers with valuable and deeper insights into their payments platform performance. Customers can elect to receive all their raw data from the Cardprotect Voice+ platform to define and run data reports over specific durations, from 24 hours, to 90 days and beyond, or any time period in between. This functionality enables customers to add the data to their own database management system (DBMS) and completely customise reports, with full flexibility to change the appearance and reporting periods.

“Today, data is the fuel that organisations need to be successful, and that is particularly true for the contact centre,” said Gary E. Barnett, chief executive officer, Semafone. “With Intelligence+, customers can see their contact centre call activity on our Cardprotect Voice+ platform, and quickly turn that data into meaningful, actionable insights that improve call centre performance, all while ensuring secure, compliant and seamless payment transactions.”

Intelligence+ is compliant with industry regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), HITRUST standards, and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Strict compliance with these industry regulations and standards ensures better protection of consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII), significantly reducing an organisation’s risk of a brand-damaging data breach, while providing a frictionless agent and customer experience.

With Intelligence+, customers gain the following key benefits:

  • The ability to query data, develop and generate a standard set of reports to help inform contact centre management on business strategy and where to maximise resources.
  • Better call management insights – including the ability to view the percentage of successful payment transaction calls at particular times of the day, empowering sales and marketing campaign managers with accurate information on the optimal times for running marketing and/or debt collection campaigns with a payment call-to-action.
  • The ability to import raw data into the customer’s business analytics system of choice, for integrated reporting with any existing data.
  • Fully customisable appearance of dashboards to fit a customer’s brand specifications.
  • Insights into average handling times (AHTs) to improve call duration and efficiency.
  • Insights into first call resolution to aid in reducing call transfers.

With actionable, real-time data, Intelligence+ enables contact centre managers, as well as sales and marketing campaign managers, to improve business success, provide a better working environment for agents, reduce agent turnover and increase customer satisfaction with a positive brand experience.

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University of New England Delivers Cutting Edge Virtual Reality Nursing Education with Oxford Medical Simulation

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: une.edu
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

The University of New England (UNE) is working with Oxford Medical Simulation (OMS) to deliver state-of-the-art virtual reality software to transform nursing education.

The immersive virtual reality platform supports nursing students at the UNE School of Nursing and Population Health in providing simulated patient care to advance clinical decision making and communication skills with other health care providers. This training allows nursing students to practice in true-to-life virtual scenarios without posing risk or harm to patients and families.

The technology is developed by Oxford Medical Simulation, an award-winning VR simulation company – based in Boston and London – and allows nursing student to practice treating acutely ill patients in a simulated, virtual environment. This optimizes skill development including clinical reasoning, decision making and patient/team communication, resulting in increased competence and confidence in managing complex care.

UNE’s Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center (ISIC) is committed to providing state of the art experiential learning opportunities to health professional students,” said Director of Clinical Simulation Dawne-Marie Dunbar, MSN/Ed., RN, CNE, CHSE. “With the OMS VR platform, we will be able to increase simulation capabilities that offer students access to complex patient care scenarios while optimizing time, space, and resources.”

This innovative technology allows UNE ISIC to engage students in expanded simulation-based experiences. Simulation refers to the use of simulated patients to practice delivery of acute patient care and is widely regarded as the most effective way of training health care professionals. Simulation is traditionally implemented with actors and/or manikins staged within a mock, realistic setting. However, high-fidelity simulation requires significant time, space, and budget. As a result students may only receive two-to-three simulation experiences per year. With virtual reality simulation, students are now able to practice simulated scenarios as often as needed.

“We’re delighted to be working with the University of New England to take nurse training to new heights. We developed OMS because we believe that training healthcare professionals in a flexible, zero-risk environment will transform patient care around the world. We all learn best from experience and the OMS system allows users at UNE to do just that – without putting patient’s lives at risk,” said Jack Pottle, MD, Chief Medical Officer of OMS.

The OMS system provides students access to libraries of nursing scenarios, supporting practice of care provision and clinical decision-making across a wide range of conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure, and meningitis. Students enter the interactive virtual scenario using a VR headset and are greeted by a virtual mentor and their patient/family. Learner interaction with the patient mimics real-life engagement with a patient. Through this pedagogy (or experience), learners can examine the patient, ask questions, initiate treatment, and provide support/reassurance as they would in actual clinical practice. Every action the student takes is recorded and compared to best practice. Once the scenario is complete, the platform produces a comprehensive data analytics report providing the student with detailed feedback. This serves as a de-briefing tool to guide reflection as to what went well and what they need to improve on.

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