Throughout history, pandemics have been a constant shadow, attached to the tale of human life. In most cases, pandemics follow a similar pattern. A cluster of infections is discovered. As more people get infected, healthcare professionals start working around the clock. Some attempt to contain the pandemic, while others care for the sick. And a global disruption of life spirals out of control.
However, unlike times of past pandemics, today we are equipped with an increasing number of technological advances and innovations. The technology of today helps preserve human connections, and enables remote education and work. Many industries suffer, but many remain viable. It is technology that enables this level of economical continuation.
This article reviews three key ways in which technology is supporting the economy during the COVID-19 crisis.
1) AI Is Helping to Monitor and Manage COVID-19
One of the primary goals of many during this crisis is to monitor, manage, and eliminate COVID-19 infections. When infection rates are controlled and effective treatment is properly distributed, social restrictions can be lifted. Once people and industries can safely return to work, the economy can begin recovering.
Additionally, for those essential workers who aren’t able to stay home, AI monitoring and insights can help reduce worker’s risk. For example, rather than waiting until individuals test positive, AI can be used to help identify when area infection rates climb and redistribute workers to avoid infection in the first place.
Some specific ways AI is contributing to these efforts include tracking and prediction, and treatments and cures.
Tracking and prediction
Researchers and public health organizations are using AI models to ingest and analyze infection reports, demographics, and location data. A variety of models are already available, such as ones used during the Zika outbreak in 2015 or ones used for seasonal flu. These models can be retrained with coronavirus data and applied to the current pandemic.
In combination, this data can be used to track how well an area is managing infection rates and predict infection growth and decline. This data can also possibly be used to identify vulnerable areas that have not yet been widely infected. Data can then be applied to helping local communities enact appropriate precautionary measures and accurately gauge the risks of leaving businesses open.
Treatments and cures
AI is often used by biomedical researchers in efforts to improve patient diagnoses and develop new treatment drugs. These same efforts are currently being applied to COVID-19. For example, one recent study by a group of global researchers has found that AI is being applied to everything from medical imaging to viral DNA testing.
While a cure is unlikely to be viable in the near future, improvements in treatment and diagnosis can have a considerable impact. The faster and earlier clinicians can test for coronavirus, the more effectively infected individuals can be quarantined. This can help contain the spread of infection and allow communities to return to work sooner.
2) Cloud Computing Helps Businesses Function During the Crisis
Aside from its use in the AI applications covered above, cloud computing is also having a significant impact on individuals and businesses. Shelter in place orders and social lockdowns have driven many employees home.
Work from home
Those that are lucky are getting to continue working remotely, many with the aid of cloud services. These services are helping remote teams stay connected and are enabling the distributed access needed for employees to continue working.
This capacity has a two-fold effect on economies. One, employees continue to get paid organically and the burden on governments to provide assistance goes down. Two, when people can continue working, they are more likely to continue spending money on groceries, personal goods, and entertainment services.
Those employees who aren’t so lucky to work from home are still contributing to the economy, however. They may be consuming significant amounts of streaming services, taking online classes, or purchasing deliverable goods.
For example, a variety of businesses are taking advantage of smart transportation and mobility apps to make sure food and grocery deliveries are available. The availability of these services enables some individuals to work when they may not otherwise be able to. It also ensures that others can continue getting the supplies they need.
Additionally, cloud computing is providing an opportunity for many businesses and individuals to develop and grow their businesses during this time. While entrepreneurs may not be able to establish new brick and mortar shops, they can open new eCommerce stores and develop new applications to help others get through the current crisis.
3) Video Communications are Helping Maintain Social Relations
Whether working from home or simply weathering out shelter in place orders, video calling is playing a huge role. It’s helping people collaborate on projects, continue their schooling, and stay connected during COVID-19.
Work from home
For companies, video calling can be a way to simulate office meetings, enabling employees to discuss strategies in real-time. Many video tools come with the ability to share screens or display whiteboards, helping teams achieve a similar level of productivity or an even greater level than what they could before.
Education and health
Video calling has also welcomed into the education and health industries. With video, teachers can continue delivering lessons to students, helping ensure that future generations of employees aren’t getting left behind.
Therapists and clinicians are also using video conferencing to check in on patients and provide support to clients. Video calls allow these professionals to continue performing their jobs without increasing the risk of infection.
Many professional conferences are also making the switch to video, offering lectures and Q&As from speakers around the world. While it may not offer the same networking or professional growth experience of a live conference, it’s certainly better than nothing.
Additionally, these conferences are helping workers collaborate globally drawing more people and more diverse attendees than physical conferences might. This can help employees strengthen industry connections and possibly expand their markets after COVID-19 concerns are gone.
COVID-19 is a global disaster affecting economies throughout the globe. Many industries see massive monetary losses, and businesses are going bankrupt. Banks are trying to meet the growing demand for loans, but whether they can meet the supply is yet to be seen. However, amidst all of these losses and blows to the global economy, stands the technology industry.
Technology enables remote communications through times that demand social distancing. It provides healthcare providers with tooling that can help improve their services while protecting their health. Technology also creates new growth, new economical avenues, new means by which people can earn a living, thus ensuring that the economy keeps on moving forward, alongside human life.