Software Solutions and Technologies to Counter the Coronavirus Pandemic

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@OsbornRocky Osborn

Senior Vice President at Innovecs, a global software development company

BlueDot, a Toronto-based artificial intelligence company, was first to spot the mysterious virus causing pneumonia in Wuhan. On December 30, their systems, backed by machine learning algorithms, flagged the outbreak of a new infectious disease. They alerted hospitals, governments, businesses, and other clients from the private sector about the danger.
Only 9 days after BlueDot’s discovery, the World Health Organization (WHO) made an official announcement about the spreading of Covid-19.
Not a human, but a smart technology system, alerted the global community. The same way technologies can help us survive this pandemic.

Technology Companies Involved in Coronavirus Struggle

Global technology companies are not standing idly by during this tough time. Facebook, Google, and Amazon have already discussed their role in the crisis with officials.
During the discussions, the companies have outlined key directions that are mainly focused on sharing data and avoiding the spread of misinformation. Let’s look at this in more detail.
Facebook’s Contribution
Facebook has started cooperating with the School of Public Health supported by Harvard and Taiwan National Tsing Hua University. With joint efforts, they monitor movements of people based on anonymous data and determine places with the biggest population density. This makes it easier to predict how the virus will spread.
Another Facebook contribution is the analysis of content people publish on social media. They track what users write and identify their emotions and overall attitude to the situation. They use Crowdtangle, a content monitoring tool that helps create a wider picture of people’s behavior during the pandemic.
Google’s contribution
At the moment, Google, with the support of the US government, is building an informational website that will allow everyone to stay informed on  the situation.
In their blog post as of March 15, Google stated that its website would be dedicated to “COVID-19 education, prevention, and local resources nationwide.” They added that it will include “best practices on prevention, links to authoritative information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).” 
Also, Google has focused on getting rid of misinformation about the virus on its services, such as Google Maps, YouTube, Play (development platforms), and in ads.
Amazon’s contribution
Many countries globally are implementing mass quarantines to keep people isolated and decrease the spreading of infection. In view of this, the global e-commerce business has rapidly grown since people prefer to order goods online rather than visit offline stores and contact with others.
To facilitate all orders, Amazon is planning on hiring and additional 100,000 employees to work in their warehouses. They are responsible for order fulfillment and distribution. This way, all people can keep receiving orders without delays.

Software solutions to help people stay afloat during the quarantine

Due to the quarantine, people face isolation from the services they used before. Moreover, they are now extremely sensitive to all sorts of possibly fake information on websites and social media networks. Technology and innovative software solutions can not only be valuable during quarantines, but they can also protect people from misinformation. 
Let’s discuss some effective solutions to make your isolation less depressive and help people stay afloat. Among them are telemedicine, AI solutions, chatbots, VR and AR technologies, contactless food delivery, work-from-home solutions, and, of course, distance learning.

Telemedicine solutions

Telemedicine or telehealth platforms are the systems allowing medical providers to consult and diagnose patients remotely. Here are some of the useful products medical organizations can integrate into their operations.
Updox
This solution offers a set of features for out-of-hospital communication, including video chat that’s compliant with HIPAA policies, texting, and electronic fax tools for doctor-patient communication. Updox can be integrated into the EMR system to synchronize data sharing.
Intelligent Medical Software (IMS)
This cost-effective, HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solution has a set of useful features, including appointment scheduling and reminders, e-prescribing, multi-provider practice, one-to-one private messaging, practice management, and video conferencing.
Retrieved from https://meditab.com
Ummanu
Ummanu’s telehealth platform facilitates remote interactions between medical specialists and patients. It provides appointment and schedule management, automated queuing management, video, and audio conferencing, etc. It can be integrated into existing administrative and medical systems as well as various apps and devices.

Web applications

One of the recommendations that can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is not touching your face with hands. But this is not that easy, especially without a reminder. A web application called Face Touch Monitor counts when you touch your face using your webcam and computer vision. Machine learning on the webcam image is done 100% locally in your browser, so no information is shared to external resources.
Working in front of the monitor and keeping the webpage running, you will hear a beep alert when you touch your face. Another option is getting a browser notification. Thus, a series of reminders can eventually train you from touching your face and getting the virus into your body.  

VR Solutions

Real estate business will go through a transformation with virtual reality technology. Because all potential buyers are recommended to stay at home, companies are turning to modern technologies, such as VR, that can help them stay afloat. 
For example, the Chinese real estate company, Anjuke, has started offering its clients the possibility to select accommodation through a VR-based live streaming platform. Thus, they can choose a property without leaving their home.
Another VR activity that can keep you entertained while in self-quarantine is a virtual fitness game. Locked at their homes for their safety, people still need to stay fit, but this might be quite challenging without visiting a gym. Luckily for us, VR is here to help. For example, Box VR – released in 2019, it is a fitness cardio boxing game for conditioning the arms, shoulders, and chest. This game also counts how many calories a person burns during a workout and includes workout playlists designed by real fitness instructors.

AR Solutions

Not only is AR an interactive technology for online shopping, but it is also a helping hand for pharmaceutical research. Apprentice, the AR firm, is providing pharmaceutical centers and manufacturers globally with its AR Tandem Rapid Deployment Kit. The purpose is to avoid the delay in the creation of necessary equipment for coronavirus fighting.
“Our largest clients, who are responsible for some of the world’s most important drugs, called us asking how fast we could ship our platform to their facilities. Pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities around the globe needed our kits are physically on-site for emergency contingency planning, especially for facilities whose operations have already significantly impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic,” comments CEO of Apprentice for Outsourcing Pharma.

Smart Chatbots

New York-based Ro, together with San Francisco-based Memora Health, has rolled out a smart chatbot solution. This bot applies AI technology to instantly respond to the standard questions relating to covid-19. 
The solution is intuitive and simple in usage. Patients can simply type a question like “What are the disease symptoms?” or “What are my next steps if I feel them?” and the bot will provide answers. The bot is developed by the WHO and the Disease Control and Prevention Centers advisory.
Retrieved from https://forbes.com  

Contactless food delivery

To minimize the contact of food delivery couriers with users, companies implemented a new delivery method into their delivery applications. For example, a Finnish company, Wolt, initiated a “no-contact delivery,” meaning couriers will leave the order right at the entrance or doorstep. There is the possibility to track the order so that the user could take it once the courier leaves the building.
Retrieved from https://wolt.com 
McDonald’s, Dominos Pizza, and a number of other food delivery companies are turning to contactless order deliveries to keep people safe.

Distance education solutions

Based on Education Week research, the quarantine impacted over 35 million school students nationwide (USA). With classes temporarily suspended, parents began to look for online solutions that сan help them keep their children engaged in education. Here are some resources for consideration.
Scholastic
The Learn at Home program, created by Scholastic, consists of the curricula for 20 days. It helps students to continue learning, even at home. It is targeted at the students from pre-K to 6+ grades. It has 4 learning experiences that are built around a video or story. Children can study alone, with the help of teachers or their parents. The program is available via any device.
Outschool
This educational platform provides access to various online classes for students aged 3 to 18. Studying is conducted through video chat. The platform includes 10,000+ classes covering multiple topics from wellness and health studies to coding and music lessons. Outschool is a free solution. 
Retrieved from https://outschool.com 
Khan Academy
This is a technology platform that provides access to multiple practical tasks for students with detailed instructional videos, dashboards with a range of directions including science, programming, mathematics, history, art, languages, economics, etc. The system builds schedules for children of all grades.
Retrieved from https://commonsense.org  

Remote working solutions

Working remotely can be quite a challenging task. However, there are great technology solutions that can help you remain engaged in work processes and deliver results. Let’s see some of them.
Status Hero
Status Hero’s key functionality is to track the performance of workers. It is an app that occasionally sends them questions, collects answers, and saves activity data in the system. Based on this data, the app creates reports visible to all workers that show the progress and status of the overall workflow. 
Retrieved from https://statushero.com 
Mural
As an online space for remote collaboration, this visual tool provides teams with shared artifacts and ensures a direct and seamless connection between all team members. You get access to the online canvas with lists, notes, graphs, frameworks, charts, methods, and different drawings for the alignment of all tasks and quality coordination.
Retrieved from https://mural.co
Sococo
This is another digital workspace with the options of online chatting, voice messaging, video conferencing, etc. It is your virtual workplace with all the necessary at hand. Workers organize private online offices, can visit each other through shared conferences and keep working as if they did not leave their real offices.
Retrieved from https://sococo.com

Summing Up the Technology Contribution in the COVID-19 Period

I have outlined a number of software solutions that can help individuals and organizations survive in the period of coronavirus pandemic. We all can not predict when the infection spreading will go down, but we can apply innovations to simplify our lives at the moment.
Today, we can use multiple solutions including telehealth platforms, AI chatbots, VR and AR tools, no-contact delivery apps, distance education, and remote working tools. In this article, I have enumerated some of the most popular solutions. However, you can make your own research and find more tools.
In this article Rocky Osborn, Senior Vice President, Global Business Development & Client Success at Innovecs, a global software development company, discusses software solutions that can help us to stay afloat in the coronavirus pandemic and keep safe, educated and united while on quarantine.
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@OsbornRocky Osborn

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Senior Vice President at Innovecs, a global software development company

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