Last week we looked into the different ways technology is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s amazing to see how quickly and efficiently tech was able to adjust and adapt in order to serve humanity is these difficult times. One week on, this adjustment has snowballed into even more industries and breeds of technology.
Let’s start with the fact that the world’s biggest companies are doing their part to help with the crisis. Amazon’s AWS division is providing the cloud computing resources required by the NHS to pull data and create visual dashboards so doctors can efficiently perform diagnosis, while Palantir is providing its Foundry software to help track the coronavirus pandemic.
As far as Apple is concerned, Siri has been updated with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to respond and appease worried users. Additionally, the company headquartered in Cupertino, California has developed a screening tool and a resource guide regarding the virus. The dedication of funds from these big tech giants in one thing, but the allocation of actual resources in developing tech that will directly impact our lives is a completely different story.
Facebook’s involvement is also worth mentioning. The tech conglomerate has offered $100 million to support the news industry in this difficult time. The need for proper and correct information and news is paramount in preventing social unrest and upheaval.
The tech efforts to combat the virus are not limited to tech giants. Digital-payment company Flywire and AI-powered chatbot Ivy.ai came together to provide a customizable chatbot tool that could be used by healthcare providers as the first point of contact with patients. The chatbot will be able to work in real time and allow healthcare professionals to address questions regarding the virus.
NextTrace is an initiative to help contain COVID-19, using location data from patients’ mobile devices. “This system would use cell phone location and proximity data to detect possible exposure events while ensuring that privacy is preserved and data is secure,” said Trevor Bedford, an epidemiologist at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Bedford’s approach goes against traditional phone-based tracing. What they are suggesting instead, is a decentralized network where labs can share anonymized data about COVID-19 test results.
“The app / online platform would essentially conduct a coarse version of what epidemiologists do with interviews; it would build a contact history for the registered case, listing out contact events with other individuals that could potentially have resulted in transmission,” Bedford wrote. Test results and proximity data from the app could be extremely helpful for healthcare institutions as they would now be able to identify areas where the spread is spiking and they need more help.
As you can see, the virus might be spreading, but tech is growing stronger with each passing day. This is a race we will win. Stay home, be patient and keep an eye for our next update.