How Tech Is Helping the Fight Against Coronavirus
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Leading technology companies are using their resources, computing power, and data to combat the coronavirus and provide assistance for individuals and businesses. We’re tracking the topline efforts below:
Researchers and leaders from the Allen Institute for AI, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), Microsoft, and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health released the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) of scholarly literature about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and the coronavirus group.
The dataset represents the most extensive machine-readable coronavirus literature collection available for data and text mining, and responds to a call to action by the White House Office of Science and Technology Office
Splunk created an interactive COVID-19 Dashboard to provide a data-driven approach to track COVID-19. An individual or organization can download a Splunk app, populate it with their own data, and use it to help get a better understanding of the data behind the pandemic. The Dashboard will help leaders bring data to every potential response to best ensure public safety.
HERE used data to create an interactive mapping and tracking tool displaying the spread of COVID-19 over time. The map provides an overview of the latest situation, including the total number of confirmed cases, as well as deaths and recoveries.
The company also introduced HERE WeGo Deliver, a delivery service that allows businesses to plan delivery routes and manage drivers directly, for no cost until the end of 2020.
Research: Researchers at the Energy Department are using IBM’s supercomputer to identify drug compounds to disable the coronavirus. IBM Research has also been actively developing new cloud and AI-powered technologies to help researchers, doctors and scientists accelerate COVID-19 drug discovery. Resources include:
- An AI deep search tool that ingested the White House COVID-19 Open Research Dataset and several other licensed databases to help researchers query the data with questions such as “Which drugs have been used so far and what are the outcomes?”
- An AI tool with 3,000 new, unique molecules containing COVID-related qualities to allow experts to explore and help identify desirable properties for potential COVID-19 therapeutics.
- A cloud-based, interactive data repository that allows microbiologists and bioinformaticians to study more than 300 million genomic sequences, including more than 500 public genome sequences for COVID-19, presented at the Stanford HAI conference this week.
- Free access to IBM Micromedex® and DynaMed®, a comprehensive search tool that provides evidence-based information aimed at understanding infectious diseases including COVID-19.
IBM has also partnered with The Weather Channel to launch an interactive “Incidents Map” to track reported cases of COVID-19. The free tool uses Watson AI to pull together relevant COVID-19 data from state and local governments every 15 minutes.
Oracle has set up a cloud system that would help the US government find a cure for COVID-19 faster. The company also set up and donated to the U.S. government a “therapeutic learning system” which would allow doctors and patients to record responses to promising COVID-19 drug therapies. – Business Insider
In India, Infosys Foundation, the philanthropic and CSR arm of Infosys, has committed Rs 100 crore (roughly $13 million USD). The fund, a company statement said, will be utilized to expand hospital capacity, enable hospital stay for COVID-19 patients, with the focus on economically weaker sections.
Infosys BPM, in association with NASSCOM, is working with the Government of Karnataka, to facilitate outreach to people in the State, returning from overseas travel, about self-quarantining practices and testing facilities. Infosys Foundation is partnering with the state government in Karnataka to help set up a medical facility to address the healthcare needs of citizens affected by the coronavirus. And, Infosys Foundation in the US is opening up its learning platform for teachers so that they can continue to school their students from home.
Intel announced a $50 million coronavirus relief program designed to support more research, technology for patient care, and help for lower income students’ distance-learning needs. $10 million of the pledge will be set aside to help fund employee-led and community efforts. – Axios
RELX is opening its Exsevier database with research and health information to the public. This includes peer-reviewed research and journals for researchers, care plans and skills guides for clinicians, and video resources for patients.
SAS launched an interactive coronavirus dashboard that depicts status, location and spread of the virus, including trend and location analytics. Users can analyze data at the state and country level and see the latest on case status over time (confirmed, recovered, active, deaths), mortality and recovery rates, visualizations of the spread over time and country-to-country comparisons. The dashboard has prompted collaborations with state health departments to create custom dashboards to help state leaders make better decisions as they manage an unprecedented crisis.
SAS is using its most advanced technology in innovative ways to help customers and partners across every industry combat the coronavirus outbreak. The company launched an interactive coronavirus dashboard that depicts status, location and spread of the virus, including trend and location analytics. Users can analyze data at the state and country level and see the latest on case status over time (confirmed, recovered, active, deaths), mortality and recovery rates, visualizations of the spread over time and country-to-country comparisons. The dashboard has prompted collaborations with state health departments to create custom dashboards to help state leaders make better decisions as they manage an unprecedented crisis. SAS is also offering a free data discovery and analytical modeling environment to empower anyone to visualize, manipulate and model coronavirus outbreak data in new or different ways.To meet the needs of learners and professionals adapting to new daily routines brought on by COVID-19, SAS has launched flexible, free options. From short videos to interactive online courses, the SAS training resources can introduce beginners to programming or statistics, or lead to a valuable industry credential like the SAS AI and Machine Learning Professional.
Learn more about the SAS response to COVID-19.
SAP is opening access to its technology in the effort to help address global challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. SAP technology platforms – Ariba, TripIt, Litmos and Qulatrics – are engaged in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing free access to their services. Services include: access to business networks to help maintain supply chains; automated feedback solutions for remote workforce preparedness; travel updates on itinerary updates and flight monitoring; and video-based courses to train teams, leaders, and employees to work effectively.
GENYOUth and SAP have partnered to provide SAP4Kids, two free, easy-to-use web applications for organizations, communities, governments, and schools to connect those in need with local resources. Through the Assistance Entry Form, organizations can quickly submit information on feeding sites and other free resources (i.e. financial, workforce, housing, and healthcare) that they provide to help students and families.
TransUnion has partnered with several US-based healthcare technology companies to build a framework for how America can safely reopen. The solution centers on the combination of a national COVID-19 database that can track valid testing results with a consumer-facing application (called TruPass) to fast-track health screening procedures in large public settings, like office building, airports, concerts, sporting events, etc.
Salesforce announced to its customers on Monday that it would offer free services to emergency response teams through its Health Cloud program. Tableau, owned by Salesforce, is also offering a ‘free data resource hub’ to help organizations understand coronavirus data quickly using data from Johns Hopkins University as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Zebra Technologies is providing data-based resources to help protect and equip front-line workers using their devices in hospitals, warehouses, stores, routes and more. Resources include contact tracing and proximity solution; interactive tools to find and print instructions for product disinfecting; healthcare use cases; retail use cases; public safety use cases; and supply chain use cases.
Moreover, Zebra is donating $25,000 to the Red Cross to help those who have been impacted most by the coronavirus.
Google and Facebook have been aggressive in combating misinformation on their networks.
Google removed thousands of videos on YouTube, its video-streaming service, that spread false reports and remedies about the coronavirus. Across the globe, videos about the coronavirus also carried a message underneath that encouraged viewers to seek advice from official government sources. Google also deleted apps from its online store that had tried to profit from the global crisis. – POLITICO
Since early March, Facebook has aggressively deleted reams of misinformation from its networks, mostly generated by normal users and not state-backed groups, while clamping down on people selling medical face masks and other products, often at hiked-up prices, on its platforms.
Apple is tightening its rules for coronavirus-related apps in its App Store, to help ensure that sources are reputable and from recognized entities
Community: On March 27, Google announced a new $800+ million commitment to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic.
The Google News Initiative has launched a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund to support small- and medium-sized news organizations producing original news for local communities.
To help fight coronavirus misinformation, Google is providing $6.5 million in funding to fact-checkers and nonprofits.
Google Cloud is also being used to help workers, public sector agencies, educational institutions, and businesses. Read more here.
Research: Google is committing $50 million to the global coronavirus response, focusing on health and science, access to educational resources and small business support.
To help inform public health strategies, Google debuted Mobility Reports, using aggregated, anonymized data to chart movement trends over time by geography. The tool will help measure whether people across the globe are following government directives to remain at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The company is partnering with Apple in a joint effort to enable the use of Bluetooth technology to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of the virus, with user privacy and security central to the design. The software would alert people if they’ve been recently in contact with someone infected with the virus.
Working with the WHO, Google will be matching up to $5 million in donations to the Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (through the UN Foundation). The fund will help the WHO track and understand the spread of the virus and help frontline workers with essential supplies and information.
Google’s DeepMind has also released predictions to help scientists better understand the protein structure of the coronavirus. In addition, Verily is developing a small, body-worn temperature patch that transmits data to a phone application to provide timely notification of fever and support earlier diagnosis and treatment of a viral infection like the flu or coronavirus. This could be especially useful in elderly populations, where viral infections have higher rates of morbidity and mortality.
Research: Researchers are using aggregated and anonymized Facebook data, including mobility data and population density maps, to study and predict how the virus is spreading and provide insights on the effectiveness of lockdown measures.
Facebook is also using its near-unique insight into social connections to show how likely it is that people know each other across states and countries, thereby helping researchers predict where the disease might spread — the logic being that people who know each other are more likely to infect each other.
Community: Facebook launched a Business Resource Hub with recommendations and resources that can help businesses cope with disruptions and keep their customers connected and informed.
On March 17, Facebook announced the creation of a $100 million grant program to help 30,000 small businesses around the world.
Instagram is making it easier for small businesses to feature gift cards, online food orders and fundraisers in their profiles or stories. Instagram users can tap on a gift card or food order to make a purchase through a company’s site. Fundraisers created by a business or its supporter open on Facebook. – CNBC
Research: Facebook has begun publishing daily maps that show where its users have reported early symptoms of the coronavirus, drawn from a new partnership with universities aimed at helping public health officials determine where the next big outbreaks may occur. The maps come from a survey conducted by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The researchers say the results correlate with confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and that the findings could yield earlier insights into which U.S. counties are most at risk.
Research: Twitter’s data is being used in research on the coronavirus and its researchers hub is publicly available.
Community: Along with its peers, Twitter is cracking down on misinformation and pushing official, credible information to the top. The platform is partnering with the World Health Organization directly in nearly 50 countries.
Amazon announced plans to hire 100,000 workers to handle the spike in online shopping due to the outbreak, along with over $350 million worth of increased pay through the end of April for hourly employees across the U.S., Europe, and Canada.
To triage needs, the company is also temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products.
To protect consumers, Amazon is working to ensure that no sellers are artificially raising prices on basic need products during the pandemic, and have blocked or removed tens of thousands of items.
Amazon has established the Amazon Relief Fund, with a $25 million initial contribution, focused on supporting independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex participants, and seasonal employees under financial distress. These groups have the ability to apply for grants approximately equal to up to two weeks of pay if diagnosed with the coronavirus or placed into quarantine.
To provide the highest level of security for employee devices, Blackberry is offering free for 60 days cybersecurity software solutions, including secure remote access for desktops and laptops, secure messaging and phone calls, and employee safety and advanced endpoint protection.
As Americans hunker down at home, telecom companies are also taking steps to meet increased demands and provide assistance. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asked broadband and telephone service providers and trade associations to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge to ensure that Americans do not lose connectivity as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Major providers have risen to the call, which asks that they:
- not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
- waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
- open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Community: Along with other telecom giants, including Comcast and Charter, AT&T is removing barriers like data caps and fees, to provide relief for those caught up in the pandemic. These come as part of a pledge led by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that also asks companies to open public Wi-Fi hotspots and waive late fees. The company announced that it will continue supporting customers through June 30.
AT&T also announced that it will support nurses and physicians with three months of free service.
AT&T is also creating a $10 Million Distance Learning and Family Connections Fund to give parents, students and teachers tools they need for at-home learning.
Comcast Business launched a webinar series to help businesses of all sizes navigate the current environment, including strategies on how to rethink their short- and long-term goals and leverage technology to remain productive and nimble with their operations.
Comcast has also announced several new policies the company will be implementing. They will be offering Xfinity WiFi for everyone including non-Xfinity internet subscribers.
Xfinity Wifi hotspots will be available across the country for free. When at a hotspot, people can connect to the internet by selecting “xfinitywifi” as the network name in the list of available hotspots and launch a browser.
As many people will be working from home, Comcast has also announced it will be pausing its data plans. Customers will receive unlimited data for no extra charge.
On April 27, Comcast pledged to continue its commitments until June 30.
In addition to signing on to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, Charter has been connecting hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, and their families to 100 Mbps or 200 Mbps broadband service for 60 days at no cost to them; suspending collections and not charging late fees or terminating service for residential or small business customers; opening Wi-Fi hotspots for public use; donating $12 million in airtime to run public service announcements; and opening Spectrum News websites to increase access to high-quality local news and information. To help some exceptional students who want to pursue their dreams but have limited financial means, Charter launched Spectrum Scholars—a two-year educational program for eligible rising juniors with financial need.
In addition, Charter is offering repayment assistance as their remote education offer free period ends, helping provide affordable low-income broadband service Spectrum Internet Assist.
To help small businesses navigate the economic challenges, Charter has rolled out new online tools and resources on the Spectrum Business website and provided a month of free service to new business customers. In addition, the company is investing $10 million in minority-owned small businesses that have been disproportionately affected by the crisis by partnering with the National Urban League and National Action Network.
Verizon has also signed on to the Keep Americans Connected pledge, waiving overage charges and late fees for customers. The company is adding 15GB of data for no charge to the plans of wireless and small business customers.
To help ensure consumers have access to trusted and reliable news and content, Verizon has also created a coronavirus hub page, https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus/, across the Yahoo ecosystem.
Over the weekend of March 28-29, Verizon worked with the US Navy to deliver connectivity for the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort, a Navy medical treatment facility that includes 1,000 hospital beds, 12 operating rooms, radiology capabilities and a pharmacy.
Businesses in the gig economy are playing a fundamental role in meeting consumer needs, as Americans enact social distancing. In some locations, restaurants, bars, and cafes are now restricted to take-over and delivery orders only. Delivery-based businesses are taking steps to protect consumers, and support restaurants and workers.
Uber is giving away over 300,000 free meals to health workers and first responders who are helping combat the coronavirus. The company is providing financial assistance of up to 14 days for drivers and delivery people who have been diagnosed with the virus or asked to self-isolate.
UberEats is waiving delivery fees for more than 100,000 independent restaurants across the U.S. and Canada. To protect customers and drivers, it is urging customers to use the “delivery notes” feature to have drivers leave orders at the doorstep to limit contact.
The platform is coordinating with FMCSA to prioritize moving loads of relief goods, including cleaning supplies, food, and toilet paper.
To support and protect drivers, Lyft is providing funds should they be diagnosed with the coronavirus or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency, and has partnered with EO Products to distribute more than 200,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to drivers, at no cost to them.
Postmates is offering reduced delivery fees, making on-demand delivery more accessible. To protect and support customers and drivers, Postmates launched non-contact deliveries and established the Postmates Fleet Relief Fund, which aids in covering the cost of co-pays, medical expenses, and sick leave related to COVID-19. The company is also working with Congress to expand a paid sick leave tax credit to all eligible contractors who are on the Postmates platform.
Postmates is also expanding an aid program for its delivery workers affected by Covid-19 to include relief for some parents and caregivers left without childcare or who are caring for sick family members. – Bloomberg
Instacart brought on an additional 300,000 full-service shoppers – more than doubling its shopper community – across North America to meet the increasing customer demand for online grocery delivery and pickup in the U.S. and Canada.
After meeting this goal, the company is now planning to bring on an additional 250,000 full-service shoppers in an effort to get back to same-day delivery.
Grubhub has waived up to $100 million in commissions for restaurants on the platform in order to help them cope with the possible economic impact of the coronavirus.
The platform is also providing additional financial relief to their drivers and restaurants through the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, where customers’ Donate the Change contributions will go to charitable organizations that support drivers and restaurants impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
For those who are sick or being cautious about coming into contact with anyone they do not know, Grubhub provides the option in the ordering process for customers to contact their drivers directly to discuss delivery details, allowing both the deliverer and the recipient to decide what each feels most comfortable with. – Observer
Airbnb is partnering with hosts to connect 100,000 healthcare providers, relief workers, and first responders with clean, convenient places to stay that allow them to be close to their patients — and safely distanced from their own families.
Waymo has donated money and supplies to COVID-19 relief efforts in communities across Arizona, California, Michigan, and New York, and other parts of the nation. The company’s hardware and supply chain teams have helped source, manufacture, donate, and distribute thousands of items of PPE to hospitals, and been contributing to 3D printing efforts of face shields and frames, volunteering with fellow Alphabet company Verily, and engaging in new and non-invasive solutions around treatment.
Cruise repurposed a small portion of its fleet to help during the crisis, providing over 1,200 contactless deliveries to low-income, senior citizens in partnership with the SF-Marin Food Bank. The company is also supporting the SF New Deal, and have already delivered over 2,500 meals connecting local small businesses to communities impacted by COVID-19.
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