During these troubled times which has gripped the entire world – the technology industry is consolidated as the top I.T. companies and the government administration throughout the world, try to combat the spread of Covid-19. Let us investigate a bit closely into the ways in which the tech industry is trying to quell the spread of this deadly pandemic.
The abrupt manner in which Covid-19, grinded the entire world to a halt, shows us the extent to which – not only the health sector, but also the social and economic sector is ill equipped to combat the effect of the Coronavirus. Furthermore, this global outbreak has highlighted the essential role that the information technology sector has in dealing with the pandemic.
Covid-19 has hit different parts of the world differently. While some countries like Italy, Spain, USA – struggle to cope with the damage done by the virus; countries like Germany, South Korea and now even China (the epicenter of the virus); are showing positive signs of being able to mitigate the negative effect the virus has been implementing. How exactly were they able to negate the effect of the virus? The answer is simple – they are using a variety of technology to combat the issue. Through the use of Data Analysis, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Internet of Things (IoT) – companies have been able to monitor, track and isolate people who were considered to be of high probability of carrying the pathogen and also using robots to conduct the preliminary tests to the needy.
The list below shows how exactly the technology sector has been helping combat the global pandemic.
1. Implementing Telemedicine to provide online health consultation
Telemedicine – the practice of caring for patients remotely when the provider and patient are not physically present with each other; is evolving as a sustainable solution for prevention and treatment of COVID-19. This way of treating, enables patients to stay at home and communicate with their respective physicians via an app or computer software and get their diagnosis remotely. Which is subsequently helping to reduce the spread of the virus. Healthcare services around the world are being urged to use this method of treatment for patients with non-urgent health matters.
2. Using Smartphone apps to track and provide assistance to the needy
With smartphones being ubiquitously available and used in countries around the world, companies have started developing apps for smartphones which will help to monitor a patient’s health. This is being done in an effort to ease the pressure on hospitals and its medical staff. The aim is to be able to track registered individuals using their phone’s GPS system for close observations.
Apple Inc., one of the most recognized brands throughout the world has developed an application – the Apple COVID-19, which helps in screening users and informs them whether or not they should visit the hospital for treatment – based on their input. Furthermore the app also offers an online screening tool and provides answers to the frequently asked questions in relation to Covid-19. The app is free in the App Store
3. Using Robots and Drones for supplying essential goods and medications
Robots and Drones, considered mere toys for the rich – have proven very beneficial and are being used by almost all major companies to provide goods and services to people who shop online while quarantined at home or help assist health care professionals in the front line. As they are immune to any infection, they are used for delivering goods and supplies to people. Furthermore, they are being religiously used for disinfection of objects or locations, distribution of foods and medications and also are being used to assess vital signs of people.
Tech companies like JD.com of China, have already started using scores of robots and drones to carry medical supplies to hospitals, spray disinfectants throughout various cities in Wuhan province. Drones equipped with thermal sensing technology assist security personnel – to identify people with elevated body temperatures (in crowded areas), indicating that they are infected with the virus.
4. Using Artificial Intelligence (A.I) to identify, track and diagnose outbreaks across the globe
Rapid innovation and development in the health care system – specifically in the healthtech, has lead to new application which utilizes Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques for screening people in masses, assessing the risk of infection and its potential growth and spread – have made AI and ML crucial contributors to identify, track and diagnose the outbreak of the CoronaVirus.
Startup companies like BlueDot of Canada, utilizes A.I., M.L. and location monitoring to – track infectious diseases, predict where outbreaks are most likely to occur and assist the security and health care professionals to properly deal with the problem. Furthermore, with the help of the AI, it is able to predict where and how quickly the disease might spread, making it easier for the Governments and healthcare organizations to respond quickly to the unseen threat. AI and ML can help in the discovery of new viruses by analyzing the data from any similar diseases and then using that data to analyze and manufacture medicines which are most likely to be of the greatest effect.
5. Using Supercomputers to work on a coronavirus vaccine
Supercomputers (computers with higher computational power then regular computers) generally used to carry out intensive tasks in various fields, including quantum mechanics, weather forecasting, climate research, molecular modeling and scientific research – have lately been used in activities such as medication discovery, material production and vaccine development for Covid-19.
University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), IBM, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Alphabet Inc, are all using supercomputers to search for vaccines for the nobel corona strain. A team at MIT have been hard at work in developing a “decoy” receptor, or protein, that could be taken as a medicine. Furthermore, tech companies like DiDi and Huawei are putting their considerable resources to fast-track the development of a cure if not a vaccine for the coronavirus.
The healthcare system across the globe is switching to the aforementioned emerging technologies to help lighten their workload – either assisting in speeding up diagnostics or enabling doctors to track patients remotely, all the while working on a cure for Covid-19. Private companies, governmental bodies and institutions should work in conjunction, as they are the ones who are well equipped to analyze and process large volumes of data using their respective AI’s, and run multiple simulations, calculations and models to come up with a viable solution to the global pandemic in the near future.