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What Top Tech Companies do for COVID-19: Google, Apple, and more

What Top Tech Companies do for COVID-19: Google, Apple, and more
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Read this article to know what measures Google, Apple, Uber, IBM, Cisco, Intel, Facebook, Samsung, Slack apply due to coronavirus. Tweets from their employees included.

Humanity faced a couple of devastating pandemics, and it doesn’t make us optimistic. In 1820, it was cholera, in 1920 – Spanish flu, and now it’s a coronavirus. However, there are chances that the viral outbreak won’t have the same, Earth-wiping consequences. 

There are many reasons for that. The first and most obvious one is that now we have better healthcare. In 1920, we could only dream about ECMO machines – now they are available. But medicine isn’t the only player on the field – there’s also technology. Researches and healthcare experts are actively partnering with big tech companies – hubs that have financial and human resources to help us avoid the unfortunate consequences of 1920. 

Why is technology an important factor in fighting coronavirus?

The technology was integrated into healthcare for a while. Google and Microsoft developed technology that can read scans, analyze diagnoses, and organize patient records. The pandemic, however, showed that there are infinite other applications of technology in public health. 

Since the virus firstly spread in China, it’s natural that Chinese tech leaders were the ones to respond first. Huawei, Baidu, Alibaba invested in their healthcare projects, partnered medical institutions, and government in fighting the thread. 

  • HUAWEI built a service that identifies scans of potential COVID-19 patients in partnership with Chinese universities;
  • Baidu made available their AI Linearfold algorithms to medical professionals to help identify carriers of the virus;
  • Alibaba also uses AI to identify new cases, and now they also sent masks to help the U.S. fight the outbreak. 

It’s natural that global corporations and U.S-located companies will follow the example of Chinese giants and unite for the common cause of fighting the virus. 

White House meeting is an official proof

At this point, the assistance of a technological company is definite. White House already announced its meeting with the leaders of the biggest tech teams – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple. U.S. Chief Technology Officer will be leading the meeting and discussing possible ways of helping out with the situation. 

The government is already making things official. However, it looks like tech companies are willing to show the initiative – let’s take a look at what technology leaders are doing already to stop the spread of the outbreak. 

Google 

As a leading digital company, Google couldn’t possibly escape the responsibility for the situation. As for now, its main mission is to prevent misinformation. For this, Verily, Google’s daughter company, developed a website that allows people in the Bay Area to get tested for the virus. 

Verily’s coronavirus testing website

Ironically, Google’s fight of misformation started from misinformation. Donald Trump said recently that Google is developing a platform where all Americans will be able to test themselves. 

This turned out not to be true. Verily only released a pilot version available to people in the Bay Area. Testing participants should be older than 18, speak English fluently, and sign a COVID-19 authorization form. While this solution is not the magic, one-for-all website Trump has promised, the service could have a powerful impact on increasing testing accessibility. 

Verily set up mobile centers where all registered users can get free tests. If the initiative is successful and sustainable, it’s likely that similar centers will be installed in other states and cities. 

  • Google home page redesign: Google posted five tips for coronavirus on its main page. All information is approved by the most credible source on the subject – World Health Organization. Additionally, the company promises to delete materials that promote misinformation and advertise useful content. 
  • Advertising control: Google bans all apps and ads that try to capitalize on coronavirus and medical products. All promotional materials for masks and respirators were banned – so medical staff can have access to them. Also, all content that tries to prey on deaths and tragic events falls under the same policy.
  • Enabling remote work: Google allowed users to access premium versions of their Meet app for free. Until July 1, 2020, every G Suite user can work on the platform for free. Google also gives tips and hacks to remote workers, encouraging everyone who stays at home. 

Apple

Apple was the company that got hit hard by a pandemic from the very start. The corporation heavily relies on China, both as to its main production center and one of its main markets. The secrecy of the company makes it difficult to work remotely – engineers can’t access the company’s systems due to internal protection systems. Engineers that work with physical products have to work from office anyway – because Apple prohibits taking products out of the company. 

Apple so far falls behind in its reaction to coronavirus. Here’s the list of measures that a company has taken to assist in the international fight with the threat. 

  • Apple closed all stores to an indefinite amount of time in order to support social distancing. As for now, the company already reopened its selling points in China, where the outbreak is slowly dying out. 
  • Apple blocks all harmful information about coronavirus, fakes, ads of masks and medicine, and removes questionable apps from Apple stores. 

As for now, the company didn’t release any innovation – it’s clear that Apple is coping with internal issues for now. After all, several of Apple’s employees in Southern California have been tested positive for the virus. The company faces many difficulties at once – and its capitalization has dropped more than 200 billion dollars. 

Microsoft

Microsoft joined the global initiative of fighting misinformation along with Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and other tech giants. As for now, the company closed all stores for an unspecified amount of time to protect its employees and customers. 

Microsoft chose to fight the misinformation by publishing a real-time interactive map of the viral spread in the Bing dashboard. The map displays data on the number of infected and diseased all over the world, approved by WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the European Centre for Diseases Prevention. 

Microsoft’s tracker is different from others because it’s intuitive and mobile-friendly. It’s not a new method of spreading awareness, but it’s the best-done global counter up to date. 

Uber

Uber is among the most active participants in solving the coronavirus crisis. It’s leading the way in showing strategies for public gig economies. Uber’s reaction to the situation is really important because it sets a standard for similar companies. 

Here’s what Uber has done so far:

  • Suspending its services: Uber stopped offering transportation in order to not facilitate the spread of the infection;
  • Supporting drivers who have coronavirus: Uber based the financial assistance of the driver’s early earning sum: those who were earning $121 per day will get $1400/month. The policy will be active up till April.
  • Sponsoring free food delivery: UberEats delivers for free to medical specialists. In some countries, like Ukraine, free deliveries will be executed in entire cities. 

Uber’s response, however, was perfect. The company ignored Californian laws and failed to suspend its resources. The company allows drivers to take sick days, but if there’s no medical confirmation, employees keep working. Now the company could be facing lawsuits if they fail to settle the matter with the California government. 

While the company promised to deliver cleaning products to its drivers – which is yet to be done, L.A. drivers are doing what they can to beat the virus. 

IBM

Just like all tech companies, IBM’s operations had to take several major hits. For one thing, the company had to suspend internal team meetings and travel. The work is being switched to a remote format now. It’s stock plummets to its lowest points with a 6% dividend yield. 

Also, IBM had to cancel its Think 2020 event that was welcome 30 000 participants. It could be transferred to a digital format – although we are yet to hear an official announcement. 

IBM actively participates in coronavirus research: 

  • IBM partners Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test SARS CoV-2 medication: its supercomputer fill identify the most efficient compound and inject cells with this genetic material. 

Fighting online security threats: cybercriminals deliver coronavirus-related emails with ransomware. IBM created a collection of the most active cybercriminals that exploit coronavirus and gathered measures for attack prevention.

Intel

Intel’s employees have been recently tested positive for coronavirus – the company reacted with establishing a regular cleaning, switching the majority of employees to remote work, and 15-day benefits.

  • Intel, together with Lenovo partnered BGI Genomics, a Chinese research company, to provide technical means to investigate the genome of COVID-19. The company uses its computing power to develop a more powerful diagnostic method. 
  • Intel engaged its Pandemic Leadership Team to monitor the progression of the epidemic. The team already worked during outbreaks of Zika, SARS, H1N1, bird flu, Ebola, and others. 

Another thing that we’d like to praise in Intel’s crisis handling is their efficient communication. The company released an updated communication and privacy policy and even published all activities in its Newscenter. 

Facebook

As a leading social media website, Facebook took the most active stance on preventing misinformation on the matter. The website faced many fake news accusations in the past, so this time, the platform went radically. Here’s a full rundown of everything that Facebook has been doing so far.

  • Facebook designed an anti-spam bug that marked all untrustworthy materials about coronavirus. However, due to a bug, it ended up blocking websites with credible information – which is a way to increase misinformation, not prevent it. 
  • Financial help to employees: Facebook issued financial help to small businesses and Facebook’s own 45,000 employees, providing an additional $1,000. 

Facebook is an example of how a fight against misinformation can turn into a crisis. A bug ended up blocking BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and others. This is a valuable lesson to all tech companies out there – all technology that’s dealing with coronavirus needs to be triple-tested — no room for mistakes here. 

Cisco 

Just like the majority of tech companies, Cisco transferred its operation to a remote basis. So far, the company reported only the positive consequences of the crisis. According to the CBNS reports, the video conferencing app Webex had 3.2 million visits, spending 5.5 million minutes overall. 

Such a spike in activity makes total sense – the majority of office-based companies are sending their employees to work from home. Cisco picked up on the trend and offered 90-day free plans on Webex, making remote meetings easier. 

Samsung

Samsung is among the first companies to publicly state its growth course after the coronavirus outbreak. The company believes that the virus will lead to demand decreases in the smartphone market. The opportunities for chip production, on the other hand, will be growing due to the weakening of current leaders of the market. So, the company already increased its manufacturing powers for chip production – even in times of virus.

Changing the course of its actions isn’t Samsung’s only strategy. The company joined the global trend of pushing health and hygiene.

The company offers a free smartphone-cleanup service. Global health experts urge people to clean their phones and personal belongings. Samsung helps out by offering a UV-C light phone cleaning. It’s a service that kills germs and bacteria. It’s yet not clear if such services will be given to the owners of non-Samsung phones – we are yet to find out how altruistic Samsung is about this. 

The viral outbreak in South Korea is decreasing, so it’s likely that Samsung will soon be able to normalize its manufacturing activities.

Slack

Analysts expect Slack to be doing much better than many other tech businesses. Considering that companies are turning their operations remote, Slack will be among the first choices for tea communication. 

Slack decided to support teams who are working on resolving the coronavirus crisis, offering free upgrades to Premium versions. Teams can email Slack to the address covid@slack.com, and the official team will set up the upgrade. 

The question is, can Slack cope with the increased usage? Many users noticed their workplace giving up on them. 

So, what are the best practices for fighting coronavirus?

Technology leaders, with their advances and mistakes, pave the way for smaller companies. So, let’s summarize the main steps that software and hardware companies can take to help fight the outbreak and maximize their efficiency.

Internal operations

  • Allow your team to work remotely: a lot of services offered discounts and bonuses for management, video-conferencing, and communication tools;
  • Issue a communication policy: document your company’s stance on the situation and define your vision during the outbreak;
  • Talk to customers: do what Intel did and create a separate page with the full description of your actions;
  • Educate employees: reassure team members that their work is stable and needed by the company;
  • Think about a new course of action: coronavirus will change the global economy forever. Don’t wait for a change to happen in order to be prepared for it – follow Samsung’s example. 

Innovation and technology

  • Use your skillsets – software development, design, technology, and product companies can use their knowledge to help inform people, organize processes, cooperate within teams, do research, and provide mental support;
  • Find a niche – find a way in which your company could solve users’ needs during the outbreak and position your company in it;
  • Partner others – even if your company isn’t working in the medical field, you can partner scientific institutions, healthcare initiatives, hospitals, startups;
  • Develop a new product: Samsung, Google, Microsoft are examples of a successful launch of new services;
  • Attract new users: a lot of companies find the silver lining in the situation and gain more visibility.

Preparation and testing

  • Make sure that your management and organization practices are sustainable long-term and comply with governmental guidelines;
  • Test all technological solutions to avoid Facebook-like crisis;
  • Find long-term partners who will work with you throughout the quarantine – changing vendors in the midst of a crisis isn’t the best idea. 

Conclusions

Your business is not alone in fighting coronavirus. As bad as it may seem, there’s one thing to reassure you: we are in this together. This means your company, your competitors, and partners.

As soon as you are open to changes and trends and leverage on opportunities – however limited and insignificant they may see – you can actually strengthen your business ‘reputation and position.

Technology and the digital economy may be the only thing that will help us out during pandemic. It enables teams to work remotely, companies – to reach users, and everyone – to get information.

So if you’ve been hesitant about building a software product, this is a clue – it’s time to invest. Our team is happy to help in implementing sustainable innovation that fits modern trends and situations.

Contact us to start building a ground-breaking product together.

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