During a pandemic, it is of the utmost importance that not only we as individuals work together, but companies as well. Luckily, in this technologically advanced age, we have major tech companies stepping up to help fight coronavirus and help people through this time. While these tech companies are far from perfect – and their response to coronavirus has not been so either – it’s important to see how they are each contributing. Here are just a few tech companies that are helping during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Social Network, which ironically has gotten in a lot of trouble for data management in the past, is trying to put its data to use. By using location data, Facebook is helping track the global spread of the virus and then sharing the data with institutions including the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, helping them study people’s movements and social patterns.
In addition, Facebook, which has been notoriously poor at handling misinformation, is attempting to combat misinformation pertaining to coronavirus and has said it is collaborating with the WHO, the CDC, and other government organizations.
Amazon is getting ready to distribute at-home coronavirus testing kits in the U.K., which consist of a finger-prick test that identifies antibodies to the virus. It would help give officials an idea of how many people have been infected, as well as who might be able to re-enter the workforce.
The e-commerce giant has also focused operations on delivering essential items, including medical supplies. However, it should also be noted that workers at one of the company’s fulfillment centers and its grocery chain Whole Foods went on strike this week to protest working conditions, including lack of protective gear or access to paid sick leave.
Apple has released a COVID-19 website and app to be used as a preliminary screening tool for coronavirus. The goal of the app is to help people understand the symptoms and make informed decisions about whether or not they should see a doctor, get tested for coronavirus, or leave the house. It was developed in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House’s coronavirus task force, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
By providing this tool, ideally Apple is both helping ease the panic of some individuals who might have otherwise misdiagnosed themselves, as well as easing the pressure on healthcare professionals and vital testing kits.
Microsoft’s customizable health care chatbot has been co-opted by the CDC to create its own version that tailors its questions and answers to COVID-19. The software runs on Microsoft Azure, but is owned and maintained by the CDC. A handful of health systems are currently using the tool, including Washington-based hospital network Providence St. Joseph and Seattle-based Virginia Mason.
Microsoft collaborated with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington on a series of data visualizations that aim to predict the virus’ peak in each U.S. state and gauge strain on health systems.
Verily, the life sciences company owned by Alphabet (which owns Google), is providing drive-through coronavirus tests at locations in four counties in California. So far, the company has tested roughly 3,700 people as of March 30, 2020. Meanwhile, Google is donating an estimated 2-3 million face masks to the CDC foundation.