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TECHNOLOGY

Swiss tech firm in $2.5 billion Toshiba deal

Toshiba and its Japanese partners plan to buy Swiss metering technology firm Landis+Gyr for 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion), local media said on Tuesday.

The Japanese electronics giant has obtained preferential negotiation rights with an Australian investment group that has the major stake in the Swiss

firm, the Asahi Shimbun and the Nikkei business daily said.

The two sides are likely to reach a final agreement as early as the end of this week in a deal aimed at enhancing Toshiba’s competitiveness in the next-generation power grid market, the two dailies said.

Toshiba will provide more than half the funds for the deal, which is being pursued with other parties, including a Japanese quasi-governmental fund, the papers said.

Landis+Gyr is a leading maker of smart meters largely seen as key equipment for next-generation power grids. Smart meters can remotely collect information on usage and capacity in real time for efficient power supplies.

A Toshiba spokesman said the firm was looking to strengthen its smart power grid business but declined to comment on the reports.

TECHNOLOGY

More than 1.6 million Swiss have downloaded Covid tracing app

Since its launch on June 25th some 20 percent of Switzerland’s population have downloaded the country's Covid-19 track and trace app. But is it enough to curtail the transmission of the virus?

More than 1.6 million Swiss have downloaded Covid tracing app
Authorities hope SwissCovid app will help curb the number of Covid-19 infections. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Two weeks after its launch, the SwissCovid app has been downloaded by 1.6 million Swiss – or approximately 20 percent of the population.

On the first day of its implementation the Federal Office of Statistics had registered more than half a million users.

On Saturday June 27th, the application was activated almost 810,000 times, according to figures released by the Federal Statistical Office.

Experts say that, to be truly effective, SwissCovid app must be used by at least 60 percent of the population. They expect that more people will download the application in the coming days and weeks.

The government is hopeful that around one in five Swiss will download the app. This is much lower than the 60 percent rate which Oxford University said was necessary to ensure the app functioned effectively in society. 

Sang-Il Kim, the Head of Dept. Digital Transformation at the BAG, said that 20 percent was an optimistic goal. 

“I would be happy if 20 percent of the smartphones would use the app,” Kim said. 

Only newer phones

Approximately 20 percent – or one in five – of smartphone users cannot use the app because their phones are too old. 

Kim said that this was a rate much higher than in other countries, with Switzerland’s efforts benefitting from the country’s love of new devices. 

“We are fortunate that only 20 percent of users are technically excluded from the app. In other countries, up to 50 percent of them have smartphones that are too old.”

Users of iPhone 6 and older models cannot use the app. 

The app registers when an individual comes into contact with other people through a person’s smartphone location systems and bluetooth.

Contact is traced when one person with the app is less than two metres from another person with the app for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period. 

Such contacts are recorded anonymously on both devices. 

If one of those users tests positive for the coronavirus, the person will receive a 'covid code' from the cantonal authorities.

READ MORE: Q&A: How will Switzerland's coronavirus tracing app work? 

If you have an iPhone 6 or a more recent model, or an Android 6, you can download the app for free from:

Google Play Store for Android

Apple Store for iOS

The tracing of transmission chains is crucial in curtailing the spread of coronavirus, especially as the number of cases increased in Switzerland in recent days.

The Federal Office of Public Health said that within the last week, the number of infections climbed from 18 on June 25th to 62 on Sunday. 

According to Matthias Egger, the head of the government’s Covid-19 Task Force, the spike in cases can be attributed to the recent lifting of lockdown restrictions, including the opening of borders with the EU on June 15th.  

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