This App Could Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer

Science has determined a variety of actions you can take aimed at keeping people cancer-free: diet, avoiding sun exposure, exercise, et al. Now your smart phone can help.

Smartphone Alert: Stay out of the sun
Smartphone Alert: Stay out of the sun

PORTO â€" Health tech is a booming market, with no shortage of apps available touted as new ways to help people stay in shape and avoid illness. But one noteworthy newcomer from Portugal is notably singular in its focus: keeping users cancer-free.

Meet HAPPY (Health Awareness and Prevention Personalized for You), a free app developed by biologist Nuno Ribeiro and the Institute for Innovation and Health Research (I3S), in the northern city of Porto. Using persuasion techniques, the smartphone app encourages every-day behavior changes by prompting people â€" one notification at a time â€" with information about cancer and advice on how to better prevent it.

The app tracks a user's location and, depending on the time of day and other pieces of information such as UV index, sends the person a maximum of one message per day based on the collected data. If the user is at the supermarket, for example, the app might send a reminder to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. If the person is at the beach, HAPPY might recommend sitting in the shade.

Ribeiro believes there are three main factors that make people alter their behavior: motivation, capability and (this is where the app comes in) timely reminders.

"Knowing about the risks of developing cancer isn't enough to alter your behavior," Nuno Ribeiro told newspaper Público. "More often than not, people are aware of the risks but either take those risks or ignore them to keep doing things that give them pleasure," he says.

"Some automatic behaviors are deep-rooted within us and are therefore difficult to break because we're not aware of them," Ribeiro adds. "Technology provides a way to make you aware of these behaviors."

In keeping with B. J. Fogg's theories on persuasive technology, HAPPY also grades a user's performance, awarding people a maximum of 150 points if they follow the app's advice. It also allows users to "compete" with their friends.

During the one-month beta test, the app was successful in helping its 32 users reduce their cigarette and alcohol consumption. Ribeiro notes, furthermore, that HAPPY isn't ad-supported. "It's not there to promote anything except health," he says.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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