Software Development Agency
What measures Google, Uber, Microsoft, IBM, Slack and more apply due to coronavirus? Tweets from their employees included.
Humanity faced a couple of devastating pandemics, and it doesn’t make us optimistic. In 1820, it was cholera, in 1920 - Spanish flu, and now it’s a coronavirus. However, there are chances that the viral outbreak won’t have the same, Earth-wiping consequences.
There are many reasons for that.
The first and most obvious one is that now we have better healthcare. In 1920, we could only dream about ECMO machines - now they are available. But medicine isn’t the only player on the field - there’s also technology.
Researches and healthcare experts are actively partnering with big tech companies - hubs that have financial and human resources to help us avoid the unfortunate consequences of 1920.
The technology was integrated into healthcare for a while. Google and Microsoft developed technology that can read scans, analyze diagnoses, and organize patient records. The pandemic, however, showed that there are infinite other applications of technology in public health.
Since the virus firstly spread in China, it’s natural that Chinese tech leaders were the ones to respond first. Huawei, Baidu, Alibaba invested in their healthcare projects, partnered medical institutions, and government in fighting the thread.
HUAWEI built a service that identifies scans of potential COVID-19 patients in partnership with Chinese universities;
Baidu made available their AI Linearfold algorithms to medical professionals to help identify carriers of the virus;
Alibaba also uses AI to identify new cases, and now they also sent masks to help the U.S. fight the outbreak.
It’s natural that global corporations and U.S-located companies will follow the example of Chinese giants and unite for the common cause of fighting the virus.
At this point, the assistance of a technological company is definite. White House already announced its meeting with the leaders of the biggest tech teams - Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple. U.S. Chief Technology Officer will be leading the meeting and discussing possible ways of helping out with the situation.
The government is already making things official. However, it looks like tech companies are willing to show the initiative - let’s take a look at what technology leaders are doing already to stop the spread of the outbreak.
As a leading digital company, Google couldn’t possibly escape the responsibility for the situation. As for now, its main mission is to prevent misinformation. For this, Verily, Google’s daughter company, developed a website that allows people in the Bay Area to get tested for the virus.
Ironically, Google’s fight of misformation started from misinformation. Donald Trump said recently that Google is developing a platform where all Americans will be able to test themselves.
Verily only released a pilot version available to people in the Bay Area. Testing participants should be older than 18, speak English fluently, and sign a COVID-19 authorization form. While this solution is not the magic, one-for-all website Trump has promised, the service could have a powerful impact on increasing testing accessibility.
Verily set up mobile centers where all registered users can get free tests. If the initiative is successful and sustainable, it’s likely that similar centers will be installed in other states and cities.
Google home page redesign: Google posted five tips for coronavirus on its main page. All information is approved by the most credible source on the subject - World Health Organization. Additionally, the company promises to delete materials that promote misinformation and advertise useful content.
Advertising control: Google bans all apps and ads that try to capitalize on coronavirus and medical products. All promotional materials for masks and respirators were banned - so medical staff can have access to them. Also, all content that tries to prey on deaths and tragic events falls under the same policy.
Enabling remote work: Google allowed users to access premium versions of their Meet app for free. Until July 1, 2020, every G Suite user can work on the platform for free. Google also gives tips and hacks to remote workers, encouraging everyone who stays at home.
Microsoft joined the global initiative of fighting misinformation along with Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and other tech giants. As for now, the company closed all stores for an unspecified amount of time to protect its employees and customers.
Microsoft chose to fight the misinformation by publishing a real-time interactive map of the viral spread in the Bing dashboard. The map displays data on the number of infected and diseased all over the world, approved by WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the European Centre for Diseases Prevention.
Uber is among the most active participants in solving the coronavirus crisis. It’s leading the way in showing strategies for public gig economies. Uber’s reaction to the situation is really important because it sets a standard for similar companies.
Here’s what Uber has done so far:
Suspending its services: Uber stopped offering transportation in order to not facilitate the spread of the infection;
Supporting drivers who have coronavirus: Uber based the financial assistance of the driver’s early earning sum: those who were earning $121 per day will get $1400/month. The policy will be active up till April.
Sponsoring free food delivery: UberEats delivers for free to medical specialists.
In some countries, like Ukraine, free deliveries will be executed in entire cities.
Uber’s response, however, was perfect. The company ignored Californian laws and failed to suspend its resources. The company allows drivers to take sick days, but if there’s no medical confirmation, employees keep working. Now the company could be facing lawsuits if they fail to settle the matter with the California government.
While the company promised to deliver cleaning products to its drivers - which is yet to be done, L.A. drivers are doing what they can to beat the virus.
Just like all tech companies, IBM’s operations had to take several major hits. For one thing, the company had to suspend internal team meetings and travel. The work is being switched to a remote format now. It’s stock plummets to its lowest points with a 6% dividend yield.
Also, IBM had to cancel its Think 2020 event that was welcome 30 000 participants. It could be transferred to a digital format - although we are yet to hear an official announcement.
IBM actively participates in coronavirus research:
IBM partners Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test SARS CoV-2 medication: its supercomputer fill identify the most efficient compound and inject cells with this genetic material.
Fighting online security threats: cybercriminals deliver coronavirus-related emails with ransomware. IBM created a collection of the most active cybercriminals that exploit coronavirus and gathered measures for attack prevention.
Analysts expect Slack to be doing much better than many other tech businesses. Considering that companies are turning their operations remote, Slack will be among the first choices for tea communication.
Slack decided to support teams who are working on resolving the coronavirus crisis, offering free upgrades to Premium versions. Teams can email Slack to the address firstname.lastname@example.org, and the official team will set up the upgrade.
The question is, can Slack cope with the increased usage? Many users noticed their workplace giving up on them.