In April, COVID-19 continued to shake the foundation of our city. The Atlanta tech community responded by teaming up to help everyone navigate these unprecedented times. Get all the latest stories in business and technology from our city and beyond in this month’s edition of TechCONNECT.
Trending: Atlanta’s Top Tech Stories
Atlanta Community Rises Up to Help Fight COVID-19
According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 emerging trends report, Microsoft is partnering with Morehouse College to address the digital divide by equipping newly enrolled students for the 2020-2021 academic year with Microsoft Surface 2-in-1 Tablets. The Marta Army and World Central Kitchen are also teaming up to do their part by feeding hundreds of furloughed and active Marta employees affected by COVID-19. The Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation will award grants up to $20,000 to help Atlanta childcare providers who serve low-income families stay afloat during COVID-19. Finally, MAC’s report shared that according to TSA data, the number of Americans traveling by plane is climbing slightly, reaching a three-week high as some states are starting to re-open. Check out the full report and find additional Covid-19 resources here.
MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta Discusses #COVID19
On April 22nd the MIT Enterprise Forum hosted a virtual panel about what we know about coronavirus and why it is such a threat, therapeutic options and vaccines in development, the possibility that this could happen again, and what it takes to be prepared. As this public health crisis continues to generate fear, confusion and rapidly changing guidance in our society, MITEF aims to provide the public with real-time answers from experts. The speakers included David Dodd, David Perryman, Rafi Ahmed, Ph.D. and Gayathri Srinivasan. If you missed out on this event, you can join the mailing list to get the latest on upcoming events right here.
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Simon Property Group to Open Lenox Mall and More
Simon Property Group, owner of Lenox Mall and Phipps Plaza in Buckhead, will be reopening 49 malls and outlet centers in Georgia and across the United States between May 1st and 4th according to an internal memo obtained by CNBC. Simon Property Group will be implementing several measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including: reduced hours to allow for deep cleaning at night, providing CDC-approved masks and sanitizer to shoppers, requiring employees to wear face masks, and limiting the number of people in an area to only one person per 50 square feet of space. In addition to Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza, Simon Property Group will re-open Calhoun Outlet Marketplace, Mall of Georgia, North Georgia PO, Sugarloaf Mills, and Town Center at Cobb. For more details about how the biggest mall owner in the United States is preparing to open a number of its properties across the country, click here.
Curricula offers free phishing tests for employees to avoid hackers
If you think that hackers would give us a break during a global pandemic, think again. According to Curricula’s CEO Nick Santora, there’s been somewhere from a 300 to 500 percent increase in phishing attacks focused on the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlanta-based cybersecurity video training platform is now offering a free phishing test to companies so that employees can avoid becoming victims of coronavirus-specific phishing attempts. As the majority of companies have gone completely remote, it has been more difficult to keep networks secure. Plus, for people who do not normally work from home, navigating more distractions during the workday can cause them to be less vigilant. Curricula’s phishing test aims to show employees how easy it is for hackers to claim to be someone else and also teach them how to recognize those threats in the future. Read the full article here.
Trending: Top National Tech Stories
Tech Tips for Working from Home
At this point, we’re all living the coronavirus work-from-home life, and while muting your microphone on team calls is a work-from-home golden rule, sometimes you have no choice but to speak while dogs are barking or kids are shouting. Joanna Stern, the Wall Street Journal’s Senior Tech Columnist, shares her solution: Krisp. This powerful app is available for both Windows and Mac users. It integrates with Slack, Zoom, and others. Check out all of Joanna’s work-from-home tech tips here.
Medtronic Publishes Design Specs for #COVID19 Ventilators
Healthcare and biomedical engineering company Medtronic announced that it would publicly share the design specifications, product manuals, design documents and, in the future, provide the software code for its Puritan Bennett 560. This invaluable information will allow existing manufacturers around the world to spin up new production lines to help meet the demand for ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis without any cost or fees owed to Medtronic. The PB 560 ventilator has several advantages, one being that it’s a relatively compact and lightweight piece of equipment that can be easily moved around. Also, the design was originally introduced in 2010, so it has a decade of qualified, safe medical use in treating patients. Read more here.
More Computing Power to Fight COVID-19
The world of supercomputing is pivoting to address the coronavirus. Some projects are being paused as researchers focus on finding treatments and vaccines as well as study the spread of the virus. The Texas Advanced Computing Center, home to two of the world’s most powerful supercomputers (Frontera and Stampede2), explained that typical supercomputing research projects related to predicting hurricanes and earthquakes are running more slowly in order to prioritize COVID-19 projects. Researchers are using the center to model both the transmission of the virus between people and various regions to get a better understanding of how the disease is spreading. They are also evaluating the impact of various social-distancing measures enacted by state and federal policymakers. To learn more about the progress of these projects, click here.
Apple and Google Plan to Track Coronavirus Through App
Apple and Google are hoping to harness Bluetooth technology to help people track if they’ve come into contact with coronavirus. As soon as mid-May, the two tech giants hope to work with public health officials to create an app to help owners of smartphones know if they have crossed paths with someone infected with the disease. If a person learns they have the coronavirus, they can indicate on their app that they have been infected. Then people whose smartphones that have been in their vicinity will be notified. Read more.
Atlanta Funding News
Atlanta Startups Raise $594 Million in Q1
Prior to the economic trials of a global pandemic, Atlanta startups were leading 2020 strong in funding raised. PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association reported that startups in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metropolitan statistical area raised more than $594 million from 46 deals in Q1. These stats far outpace the first quarter of 2019, which reported more than $206 million raised across 46 deals. Due to the uncertainty of the times, the report predicts that the investors will be more conservative with their funding in the coming months. However, life science startups, delivery startups and other remote-work technology likely won’t be impacted as severely and may have even greater success during this time. You can find additional details about this report right here.
Startups Raise a Combined $140M in One Week
Hypepotamus shared that AvidXchange, a payment automation platform in Charlotte, SingleOps, an outdoor care software startup in Atlanta, and Panaceutics, a nutrition product provider in Ringgold, VA raised close to a combined $140M last week. The weekly report known as “Monday Fund-Day” details who raised significant capital in the south. Click here to learn more about these three companies and why you should be keeping an eye on them in 2020.
Flock Safety Raises $15.8M
Flock Safety, an Atlanta neighborhood watch company, recently reported that it raised an additional $15.8 million. In 2018, Flock raised nearly $20 million during two fundraising rounds. The company makes a camera system used by residents and police departments to catch criminals. Using Flock cameras, police were able to locate a stolen vehicle from Knoxville, Tennessee and made an arrest in just four minutes. With the additional raise, Flock plans to decrease response time of police within their jurisdiction through real-time alerts as well as expand outreach to help communities provide the evidence they need to solve more cases of criminal activity in their neighborhoods. Read the full article here.
LocatorX Secures $6.6M
LocatorX, an Atlanta-based startup that uses technology to track items and merchandise throughout the supply chain journey, has closed another successful funding round. With the help of angel investors, LocatorX secured $6.6 million, bringing the company’s total funding raised to about $10 million. This IoT solution makes it possible to track and authenticate products throughout the entire supply chain process across all industries. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the company has seen an influx of need to support the healthcare community. In addition to the funding announcement, LocatorX also appointed the former UPS CFO Kurt Kuehn to its board of directors. Read the full article here.
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