Three Emerging Technologies Taking on Covid-19 Challenges
By Gwenever Pacifico / May 20, 20203 min read
Every day, we’re seeing organizations apply solutions in creative and meaningful ways.
Sophisticated technologies are crucial at this time. They’re helping track the coronavirus by crowd-sourcing data, assisting healthcare professionals to communicate better and aiding the government in attending to the needs of the public.
One of our core beliefs is that technology is meant to serve the world. Here are three ways in which emerging technologies are helping us fight and get through the global pandemic.
Big Data: Tracking the Virus
There’s been a lot of controversy over big data tracking technology in mobile devices because of privacy concerns. But as the pandemic continues, it’s helping public health authorities pinpoint hot zones and track the coronavirus’s movements in the global population.
Time reports that geotracking on phones is streamlining the task of Covid-19 contact tracing, which is a way of tracing the steps of infected patients and contacting those at risk of getting sick.
Australia’s COVIDSafe app collects the information of people who've been exposed to others with Covid-19 in the past 21 days and contacts them.
Similarly, Harvard teamed up with Massachusetts General Hospital, King's College London, Stanford University and a health science company called ZOE to develop an app that tracks the symptoms of Covid-19 among the public. Thousands of people are reporting how they feel daily, even if they feel well.
Big data tracking is being used by researchers to harness valuable information for digital health, across different sources and to understand population health patterns.
In Taiwan, big data technology helped authorities slow the community spread of the coronavirus. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports:
Taiwan leveraged its national health insurance database and integrated it with its immigration and customs database to begin the creation of big data for analytics; it generated real-time alerts during a clinical visit based on travel history and clinical symptoms to aid case identification. It also used new technology, including QR code scanning and online reporting of travel history and health symptoms to classify travelers’ infectious risks based on flight origin and travel history in the past 14 days.
The South Korean government has had a similar approach. They have a website that shows areas where infected individuals have been, helping people to avoid those places. It’s proven to be more effective than locking down large swaths of cities and counties to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
While there are valid concerns about big data and privacy, when it comes to infectious disease, big data has helped scientists to track the outbreak of various illnesses globally.
The Cloud: Keeping Business Online
Cloud technology has enabled millions of people to work from home. It has given organizations access to secure documents, increased scalability in remote work and allowed for easy internal and external communication and collaboration.
Large companies are relying heavily on the cloud to help clients across the world access streaming, apps, rapid data systems and other services.
In March alone, Microsoft reported a 775% increase in demand for cloud services in regions that were enforcing social distancing.
In order to keep up with shelter-at-home demands, Netflix moved its primary servers from Santa Clara, California--an area that has been devastated by Covid-19--to other areas. This move allowed them to lean on their cloud infrastructure to maintain services to employees and clients.
Indeed, cloud technologies are the foundation of many tech solutions during this pandemic.
Google Cloud is bringing machine learning into healthcare by launching an AI chatbot to answer questions about Covid-19 and provide users with information from the World Health Organization and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
It's designed so various organizations like government, travel agencies and retail industries can integrate the AI chatbot into their existing infrastructure using the cloud.
In places like China, Italy and the US, collaborative tools and digital service providers (like Zoom) saw massive upticks in usage. As the pandemic continues, the demand for these cloud-backed technologies is expected to increase.
Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality: Adapting to Social Distancing
VR & AR are also helping industries cope with the market changes brought on by the coronavirus.
Real estate has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Social distancing rules are making it challenging for agents to show properties to buyers. In the past few years, more real estate companies, like Zillow, are turning to VR and AR technologies to enhance the customer experience through apps that allow virtual tours of properties.
With social distancing rules, these technologies are easing the sales and rentals of properties. They allow for virtual staging, which saves landlords and real estate companies money, while allowing buyers and renters to visualize a furnished property.
Another industry adapting to the post-coronavirus changes is the retail industry. The financial analysis agency, IDC reports that growth estimates for global retail in 2020 will be halved from pre-Covid-19 forecasts with fashion, furniture, and electronics retailers being hit the hardest.
What may save retail businesses is augmented reality. Consumers still want the browsing experience of online shopping but AR adds another element to it. Companies like Ikea are using AR apps to allow customers to see what a Skarsta table and other furniture look like at home before making an online purchase.
These technologies are also being tested to help keep healthcare workers safe.
The University of Southern California (USC) is combining virtual reality and medical science by creating people-friendly simulators to assist the medical community in handling the wave of new patients. A virtual human agent will screen sick patients, monitor patient recovery, help hospitals answer calls and provide comfort to people under quarantine.
Industries who are using emerging technologies are helping businesses get through Covid-19 while giving health officials the tools to fight it.
Codazen believes we will all emerge from this pandemic stronger with innovations that can help us navigate the future.