Coronavirus and Technology
10 March 2020
The sudden emergence and rapid spread of a novel coronavirus, now called Covid-19, is a reminder of the power of infectious diseases. It also offers insights into how innovation and technology are better equipping us to handle public health emergencies and contain the spread of diseases.
The exponential growth of connectivity – and the access to the wealth of data it offers – allows health officials to quickly track the spread of disease, giving vulnerable populations vital information.
Technology companies have developed maps that display population density, demographics, and travel patterns, enabling researchers to decide where to send supplies or how to mitigate an outbreak. Additionally, China released a mobile app, which tracks people and alerts them if they have been in close contact with someone infected. Wearable technology, chat bots and teleconferencing have all been used to monitor patients, provide patient care and information.
Tools that enable clinicians to streamline and expedite care delivery in a range of settings are helping doctors diagnose (or rule out) coronavirus cases, provide virtual care and prevent the virus’s spread among populations. According to experts, by testing more people and sharing relevant information faster during an epidemic, officials are more likely to slow a contagious disease, regardless of its origin or severity.
Technology has played a major role in globalisation, which is mostly viewed in a positive light, however detractors argue that globalisation has also led to rapid spread of coronavirus.
Technology companies, in general, rely on the global supply chain for materials, the production of their products and the global labour force to deliver their services. As a result, the coronavirus epidemic has had a major impact on the sector. Production has slowed down, mostly due to Chinese factories shutting down, or the inability to source raw materials from China. Further, technology-based marketplace companies bring people together, however as coronavirus spreads, that’s becoming a liability. In North America food delivery startups have all introduced drop-off delivery options that eliminate the need for interpersonal contact. Shared economy startups are offering free cancellations, which will reduce company revenues and potential income for gig economy workers.
As more companies are encouraging their workers to stay at home and work from there, technology is enabling employees to stay productive. Additionally, teams are staying connected through the use of conference calls and collaborative software.