Why Technology was the unsung hero in the global pandemic?

Examining Technology’s impact on helping to fight covid-19

Healthcare and technology have always had a great relationship from diagnostic tools to electronic records of patient’s data stored in a database. This relationship has never been tested as much over the course of 2020 with the corona virus pandemic which put the world in to lockdown.

I take a look at Technology’s impact on the global pandemic on how integral it was to battling the virus.

Monitoring, Surveillance, detection, and prevention
The internet of things enabled people to communicate with each other and to access online data and processes. Over the course of the pandemic IOT allowed public health organisations to monitor a real-time update on the actual number of people who have covid-19. With information such as disease distribution by new cases, disease distribution and the severity of the disease.

For example, the ‘Worldometer’ provides a real-time update on the actual number of people known to have COVID-19 worldwide

Big data and decision making
Furthermore big data has been integral to individual countries to make decisions upon policies. Big data allows for modelling studies on viral activity, this information helps preparation for lockdown, and gradual recovery post-covid.

For example using the WHO International Health Regulations, the State Parties Self-Assessment Annual Reporting Tool, Joint External Evaluation reports and the Infectious Disease Vulnerability Index, Gilbert et al. assessed the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries in battling against COVID-19; this would help raise awareness of the respective health authorities in Africa to better prepare for the viral outbreak.

AI & The Pandemic
Healthcare organizations are in an urgent need for decision-making technologies to handle this virus and help them in getting proper suggestions in real-time to avoid its spread.

AI works in a proficient way to mimic like human intelligence. It may also play a vital role in understanding and suggesting the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. This result-driven technology is used for proper screening, analyzing, prediction and tracking of current patients and likely future patients. The significant applications are applied to tracks data of confirmed, recovered and death cases

From what I have understood from my research, there have been a number of attempts a deep learning models to help in predictive analysis of the virus. However much like the way AI works in feeds on the previous data is consistently learning as the pandemic data becomes more readily available.

More can be found here: https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/artificial-intelligence/medical-ai/companies-ai-coronavirus

Communication
This is not to mention the impact that technology had on communication globally. Zoom’s rise to fame and becoming the go-to video conferencing medium for companies around the world shows just how important technology is to the world.

Companies were forced to work from home and video-conferencing was integral to companies ability to continue to produce. As well as allowing others to be e ways to virtually stay social through happy hours, trivia nights and birthday parties.

Digital Technology
Digital technology also provided use for dissemination of information for countries like Singapore. In Singapore, the government has partnered with WhatsApp (owned by Facebook) to allow the public to receive accurate information about COVID-19 and government initiatives

Multiple social-media platforms (e.g., Facebook and Twitter) are currently used by healthcare agencies to provide ‘real-time’ updates and clarify uncertainties with the public.

In addition to this, Northern Ireland released the UK’s first contact tracing app. StopCOVID NI is a free health service app for your mobile phone. It will help us to protect each other and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Using the Stop COVID NI app along with the existing public health measures will help us all stay safe when we meet up, socialise, work or travel.

The app tells you automatically if you’ve been near someone who tests positive.

Start Ups and Opportunities
During a crisis there are also great opportunity to solve some of the problems created by the pandemic. There have been a number of start ups which has helped.

For example During the pandemic people around the world have been self-isolating. Staying at home, they have depended on others for food and other essentials. But how to pay them?

British fintech firm Starling Bank has one solution: a debit card that allows a trusted person to buy things on the owner’s behalf. The “Connected card” — linked to the owner’s account — also removes the need for any physical exchange of cash or cheques, providing an extra layer of protection for a vulnerable person.

This web article highlights some of the great work start ups have been doing over the course of the pandemic.

Conclusion
To conclude I believe technology has worked in tandem with healthcare to help produce a valiant response in unprecedented times. The real problem it is solving is helping guide policy makers to make proper decisions, whilst allowing the world to continue to communicate.

This article is as much of a broad overview of how technology has impacted the corona virus pandemic but overall I have barely touched the surface.

Hopefully the data that has been made available can help better prepare us in the future for handling a situation like this!

Sources used:
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0824-5.pdf
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871402120300771

Software Developer, YouTuber and all round technology fanatic. Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdwardMuldrew

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