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ProgrammableWeb

Four Methods You Can Use to Train Employees on API Basics

Investing in comprehensive digital training has become a practical necessity for businesses across countless industries. The spread of technology (particularly pertaining to automation) continues at a rapid clip, and the practice of having in-house tech support to assist workers lacking digital skills loses its efficacy when you pivot to the now-standard remote working model.

There are plenty of areas to be covered, of course, meaning you can choose your preferred route — though you’ll need to cater your approach to each topic. When taking your employees through API basics, the goal should be to help them understand the key role that APIs play in the modern world and the value they’ll see from API adoption. For organizations undergoing a digital transformation, educating employees about APIs can help increase buy-in as they begin to see how APIs can make their jobs easier. To help your employees best understand APIs, you’ll need to choose a suitable method.

In this post, we’re going to set out four methods that you can successfully implement in your effort to train your employees on API basics. You can choose just one of them, or attempt all four. It depends on your situation. Regardless, let’s begin.

Invest In Decent Online Courses

The most common option for training of any kind (particularly in a time of remote working) is to turn to online courses. They’re extremely accessible these days. There are myriad websites that offer huge ranges of courses on broad or specific topics: some costly, some cheap, some free (Lifehack has a solid list of these). In addition to that, there are plenty of YouTube videos (and Vimeo videos) that have a lot of valuable info — including videos from ProgrammableWeb:

The investment here isn’t necessarily monetary, though it may well be: it’s also about time and effort, because going through a free course that has little to offer will be a waste. The good thing about standardized online courses is that they’re extremely trackable and generally have native assessments, making it much easier to tell what progress has been made.

Run Guided Training Sessions

If you already have employees familiar with how APIs work and what they’re used for, you can take advantage of this by getting them involved in training sessions for their coworkers. Sharing knowledge internally is enormously useful for companies with multiple departments (or just diverse roles), and it allows a lot more creative freedom than using a set program from outside.

This also opens up the possibility of turning to a consultancy service: finding an API expert (or set of experts) who can come in to provide instruction on particular topics. Consulting a third party is very common in the IT industry due to its sheer breadth: for instance, it’s standard practice for a value-added software reseller to task a cloud solution distributor (usually a company like intY) with stepping in to provide software training and assist on complex customer queries.

Bring Them In On API Projects

Many people learn best by doing (this is why active learning is so prominent). If there are already people in your company working on API projects, a good way to pique the interest of someone struggling for training motivation is to give them the opportunity to get involved in one or more of those projects. They can follow along with what’s being done, ask questions at their leisure, and be given limited tasks they can pursue without needing to rush themselves.

This form of training will inevitably lead to some major mistakes being made, which is why you should choose low-priority projects — but those mistakes will likely prove beneficial because dedicated professionals always learn from their errors. In all likelihood, joining a meaningful project won’t just show them the value of APIs: it’ll also inspire them to do their own research.

Offer Incentives for Upskilling

Lastly, one of the best methods for training employees on API basics doesn’t actually involve doing any training. Instead, it involves offering them meaningful incentives for upskilling in pertinent areas and leaving them to decide how they’re going to manage it. One person might want to arrange some intensive training over the course of a week. Another might prefer to learn slowly but surely over the course of several months.

In the end, you want your employees to understand API basics because it will allow them to make better use of all the software tools available to them (and see much more clearly how interconnected today’s digital world is). How they acquire that understanding shouldn’t really matter, and simply providing a path for promotion and/or salary improvement might end up being the most powerful motivator (and cost no more than a high-end training course would).

There you have it: four viable methods for training your employees on API basics. What you should do depends on the preferences and abilities of your team. Ask them about how they work, how they learn, and what would motivate them to learn — then deliver.

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">rodneylaws</a>

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ScienceDaily

First daily surveillance of emerging COVID-19 hotspots

Over the course of the coronavirus epidemic, COVID-19 outbreaks have hit communities across the United States. As clusters of infection shift over time, local officials are forced into a whack-a-mole approach to allocating resources and enacting public health policies. In a new study led by the University of Utah, geographers published the first effort to conduct daily surveillance of emerging COVID-19 hotspots for every county in the contiguous U.S. The researchers hope that timely, localized data will help inform future decisions.

Using innovative space-time statistics, the researchers detected geographic areas where the population had an elevated risk of contracting the virus. They ran the analysis every day using daily COVID-19 case counts from Jan. 22 to June 5, 2020 to establish regional clusters, defined as a collection of disease cases closely grouped in time and space. For the first month, the clusters were very large, especially in the Midwest. Starting on April 25, the clusters become smaller and more numerous, a trend that persists until the end of the study.

The article published online on June 27, 2020, in the journal Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology. The study builds on the team’s previous work by evaluating the characteristics of each cluster and how the characteristics change as the pandemic unfolds.

“We applied a clustering method that identifies areas of concern, and also tracks characteristics of the clusters — are they growing or shrinking, what is the population density like, is relative risk increasing or not?” said Alexander Hohl, lead author and assistant professor at the Department of Geography at the U. “We hope this can offer insights into the best strategies for controlling the spread of COVID-19, and to potentially predict future hotspots.”

The research team, including Michael Desjardins of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Spatial Science for Public Health Center and Eric Delmelle and Yu Lan of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, have created a web application of the clusters that the public can check daily at COVID19scan.net. The app is just a start, Hohl warned. State officials would need to do smaller scale analysis to identify specific locations for intervention.

“The app is meant to show where officials should prioritize efforts — it’s not telling you where you will or will not contract the virus,” Hohl said. “I see this more as an inspiration, rather than a concrete tool, to guide authorities to prevent or respond to outbreaks. It also gives the public a way to see what we’re doing.”

The researchers used daily case counts reported in the COVID-19 Data Repository from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, which lists cases at the county level in the contiguous U.S. They used the U.S. Census website’s 2018 five-year population estimates within each county.

To establish the clusters, they ran a space-time scan statistic that takes into account the observed number of cases and the underlying population within a given geographic area and timespan. Using SatScan, a widely used software, they identified areas of significantly elevated risk of COVID-19. Due to the large variation between counties, evaluating risk is tricky. Rural areas and small, single counties may not have large populations, therefore just a handful of cases would make risk go up significantly.

This study is the third of the research group’s iteration using the statistical method for detecting and monitoring COVID-19 clusters in the U.S. Back in May, the group published their first geographical study to use the tracking method, which was also of the first paper published by geographers analyzing COVID-19. In June, they published an update.

“May seems like an eternity ago because the pandemic is changing so rapidly,” Hohl said. “We continue to get feedback from the research community and are always trying to make the method better. This is just one method to zero in on communities that are at risk.”

A big limitation of the analysis is the data itself. COVID-19 reporting is different for each state. There’s no uniform way that information flows from the labs that confirm the diagnoses, to the state health agencies to the COVID-19 Data Repository from the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, where the study gets its data. Also, the testing efforts are quite different between states, and the team is working to adjust the number of observed cases to reflect a state’s efforts. Hohl is also working with other U researchers to look at the relationship between social media and COVID-19 to predict the future trajectory of outbreaks.

“We’ve been working on this since COVID-19 first started and the field is moving incredibly fast,” said Hohl. “It’s so important to get the word out and react to what else is being published so we can take the next step in the project.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Utah. Original written by Lisa Potter. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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ProgrammableWeb

APM Terminals Modernizes Shipping Logistics With APIs

APM Terminals, a company that operates container terminals across the globe, has announced a new API that will provide its customers with real-time information on container data. The hope is that this agility will allow for better decision making pertaining to shipping logistics.

Logistics companies are tasked with managing a massive amount of data related to cargo status. The management of these pipelines has never been more important than it is right now with COVID-19 imposing myriad new restrictions, while also driving demand for transport of critical medical supplies. Many logistics companies are still relying on phone calls and emails to gain insight into real-time cargo statuses.

With this new API, APM Terminals customers will be able to streamline this process by integrating the data directly into their terminal operating systems. This will allow for data to be transferred instantly and accurately, in contrast to human operators who are prone to error. 

APM Terminals is rolling out API availability based on terminal location and plans to increase the number of terminals included over the next several years. 

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">KevinSundstrom</a>

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Grants.gov

Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science

Funding Opportunity ID: 326669
Opportunity Number: 20-569
Opportunity Title: Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science
Opportunity Category: Discretionary
Opportunity Category Explanation:
Funding Instrument Type: Grant
Category of Funding Activity: Science and Technology and other Research and Development
Category Explanation:
CFDA Number(s): 47.041
47.049
47.050
47.070
47.074
47.075
47.076
47.079
47.083
Eligible Applicants: Unrestricted (i.e., open to any type of entity above), subject to any clarification in text field entitled “Additional Information on Eligibility”
Additional Information on Eligibility:
Agency Code: NSF
Agency Name: National Science Foundation
Posted Date: May 01, 2020
Close Date: Jan 26, 2021
Last Updated Date: May 01, 2020
Award Ceiling: $8,000,000
Award Floor: $5,000,000
Estimated Total Program Funding: $3,000,000
Expected Number of Awards: 3
Description: In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of “Big Ideas,” 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate/Division of Human Resource Development (HRD), once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors. The NSF INCLUDES Big Idea is a comprehensive national initiative to enhance U.S. leadership in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) discoveries and innovations focused on NSF’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and broadening participation in these fields. The vision of NSF INCLUDES is to catalyze the STEM enterprise to work collaboratively for inclusive change, resulting in a STEM workforce that reflects the population of the Nation. More specifically, NSF INCLUDES seeks to improve collaborative efforts aimed at enhancing the preparation, increasing the participation, and ensuring the contributions of individuals from groups that have been historically underrepresented and underserved in the STEM enterprise such as African Americans, Alaska Natives, Hispanics, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians, Native Pacific Islanders, persons with disabilities, persons from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and women and girls. Significant advancement in the inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM will result in a new generation of STEM talent and leadership to secure our nation’s future and long-term economic competitiveness. The NSF INCLUDES National Network is composed of: Alliances, Design and Development Launch Pilots, Coordination Hub, Other NSF funded projects, Federal Coordination in STEM (FC-STEM) agencies, Scholars engaged in broadening participation research, and Organizations that support the development of talent from all sectors of society to build an inclusive STEM workforce. A hallmark of NSF INCLUDES is the focus on the five design elements of collaborative infrastructure to achieve systemic change. Collaborative infrastructure refers to the process by which partnering organizations come together to map out mutually reinforcing activities through: (1) shared vision, (2) partnerships, (3) goals and metrics, (4) leadership and communication, and (5) expansion, sustainability and scale. Through these five design elements of collaborative infrastructure, the successful implementation of NSF INCLUDES will result in substantial advances toward a diverse, innovative, and well-prepared STEM workforce to support our Nation’s economy and continued U.S. leadership in the global STEM enterprise. It is anticipated that NSF’s investment will contribute to new and improved STEM career pathways, policies, opportunities to learn, and practices for equity and inclusion. The initiative is supported by the NSF INCLUDES Coordination Hub (www.includesnetwork.org) that provides a framework for communication and networking, network assistance and reinforcement, and visibility and expansion for the NSF INCLUDES National Network as a whole. Through this solicitation, NSF INCLUDES will support the establishment and growth of new Alliances that employ a collaborative infrastructure approach to address a critical broadening participation challenge in STEM at scale.
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DCED

Wolf Administration: CARES Act Funding for Small Businesses Available Tomorrow – PA Department of Community & Economic Development

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced that beginning tomorrow small businesses across Pennsylvania can apply for grants to offset lost revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown order.

“In unprecedented times, like those we are currently facing, collaboration is imperative to getting help to those who need it most, as quickly and effectively as possible,” said Gov. Wolf. “This joint effort between my administration, the legislature, and The Pennsylvania CDFI Network will provide critical assistance to Pennsylvania’s small businesses, putting them on better financial footing as they begin to reopen.”

The COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance program, announced earlier this month, will provide $225 million in grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to eligible businesses through Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

Beginning tomorrow, June 30, eligible businesses may begin applying for the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance program online