i3 | December 02, 2020

Tech for Good

Cindy Loffler Stevens

As the COVID-19 coronavirus continues into the winter, tech companies are responding to the outbreak and providing solutions to keep the world connected and informed. Here are just a few examples of companies that are responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

Alibaba launched new health tech features aimed at diagnosing cases and finding a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Apple released a screening tool and website to help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

Facebook has generated maps displaying population density, demographics and movement, enabling researchers to decide where to send supplies or how to mitigate an outbreak.

Google announced a new $800+ million commitment, including ad grants to help the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 100 global government agencies provide information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to support small- and medium-sized businesses with Google Ads credits to reach their customers, and Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to study therapies and vaccines.

IBM partnered with the White House and U.S. Department of Energy to create a consortium of supercomputers to fight against COVID-19. Also it expanded its 2020 Call for Code Global Challenge to ask the world’s developers to build solutions for COVID-19 with winners announced in October.

Kinsa’s The U.S. Health Weather Map is a visualization of seasonal illness linked to fever, specifically influenza-like illness, based on aggregate, anonymized data from its network of smart thermometers and mobile apps.

The website, nCoV2019.live, created by 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, tracks coronavirus deaths, number of local and global cases and includes an interactive map, information on the disease and a Twitter feed. It updates every minute, and pulls data from the WHO, CDC and elsewhere.

Virtual Learning

As teachers, students and parents scrambled to grasp remote learning operations following lockdowns, tech companies stepped in. Even many schools are adopting a hybrid approach that requires at least some of the course or materials to be online. Interest in remote learning tools and virtual learning has spiked among tech companies in 2020.

AT&T committed $10 million to the Distance Learning Fund in the wake of COVID-19 school closures to give parents, students and teachers tools they need for at-home learning.

Google is offering schools free access to its Hangouts Meet app during Covid-19. It also donated 4,000 Chromebook laptops and pledged free internet access to 100,000 U.S. households.

Microsoft invested $1 million in Kano, a company focused on teaching kids how to code.

Sony Corp launched a $100 million fund to support those affected by the coronavirus, including support for children and educators working remotely.

YouTube’s resource, Learn@Home, highlights educational YouTube channels that students can watch at home.

zSpace, a California-based startup, has created an AR/VR-enabled tablet used by schools to teach concepts such as electricity, circuits, the periodic table and geometry to K-12 students. 

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