Technological Innovations Helping Deal with the Outbreak

 

In recent weeks, the world has seen its share of both devastation and hope. As the pandemic continues to spread and force governments to impose heavy preventative measures, frontliners also continue the fight to make sure there’s still a semblance of society and trade in the world.

Healthcare heroes show up to work every day. Retail store workers risk their lives so you can buy food and essentials. Truckers and delivery drivers soldier on, despite mounting hazards against them. Yes, they are all worthy of gratitude and admiration.

Along with these heroes, technology is also doing what it can to help ease these uncertain times. There are a lot of new and not-so-new advancements that have become simply critical to the continuity of everything.

Here they are.

Digital Messaging

Whether you realize it or not, the device virtually each person has is not only a link for them to connect to the world, but also a link for the world to reach out to them. During this time of fear and misinformation, a clear path for governments and other authorities to communicate with the population is one of the most important tools at their disposal.

According to the World Economic Forum, a similar approach was done to inform the people of Sierra Leone about the effective ways of preventing Ebola from spreading in the population. The government was able to update the channel with relevant and timely information, arming the people with the right tools to stop the disease.

This simple tool of instant messaging has enormous potential for information dissemination and mass coordination. Don’t underestimate it.

Artificial Intelligence

There are so many applications of AI in the information age. In response to the pandemic, it has played several key roles thus far. According to this paper by the European Parliament, AI has significantly been helping in tracking and managing Covid-19. It has been an instrumental tool in contact-tracing and backtracking the activities of those infected.

In South Korea, AI is being used to analyze information and communication data to manage and control the spread of the virus. They were able to contain the pandemic without shutting down their economy despite having one of the most explosive spreads at the onset of the disease.

According to ITU News, AI also helped in quickly developing test kits that have been key to their fast response.

Artificial Intelligence is also being used to find a vaccine for Covid-19. Its main role in the process is to analyze different viral protein structures. According to Wired, AI is scanning thousands of potentially relevant existing data as well.

Cloud Computing

With the help of cloud computing, many organizations are able to establish their continuity protocols while helping reduce the risk of spreading the virus. With tools like video conferencing and collaborative applications, many businesses gained the ability to relax working arrangements and prioritize the safety of their people. Cloud computing allowed employees to work without having to worry about the potential risks. This is one of the reasons why the economy has not yet been completely crippled by the situation.

In healthcare, cloud computing is also playing an integral role in keeping workers safe. Telehealth reduces instances of contact between patients and healthcare workers. Other practice management programs like appointment reminders are also doing their share in preventing further spread of the virus.

Distributed computing, like cloud computing, uses the computing power of other machines. With distributed computing, the task is divided into different computers connected through a network. One of the best examples of this technology being used to help Covid-19 response is through projects like Folding @ Home. This organization is helping discover a vaccine for the virus by using the collective computing power of hundreds of thousands of volunteer computers around the world to conduct similar simulations mentioned in the AI section of the article. By distributing workloads across different devices, results can be expected sooner.

3D Printing

One of the most wide-spread issues the pandemic response has been encountering in the last several weeks is the lack of medical equipment. Many hospitals have reported frightening cases of insufficiencies of anything from protective personal equipment to hospital beds. The lack of these equipment can lead to riskier healthcare and the inability to take in people who need help the most.

Testing kits are also in short supply in a time when these are highly essential in keeping infected numbers down and safe.

According to Forbes, 3D printing is being used to bridge these gaps. Companies like Formlabs are using their considerable 3D printing resources to help provide the medical industry with the materials they need to protect workers and build test kits.

NASCAR is helping through 3D printing, too. They have diverted the use of their printers from building composite car parts to manufacturing PPE for healthcare workers.

Technology has always been one of the closest allies of humans in every struggle the world faces. The Covid-19 pandemic has once again proven this true.

 

Paul Petersen

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