Today marks 55 days since the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic. Yes! You guessed it right, I am talking about the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic. A lot of people term this pandemic as World War III... Well, fair enough, it is a war that is fought by doctors, and the "enemy" is a weirdly looking, 50-200 nanometer-sized virus, called the "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)", formerly known as the "2019 novel Corona Virus". Taking advantage of its small size and high communicability, this virus took the lives of 253,232 people and has affected 3,489,053 people so far. Deadly indeed, and what is more deadly is, in today's date, no vaccines or any COVID-19 dedicated medications have been discovered yet. Scientists are working as our second line defense in this war. Working day and night, scientists from all over the globe are trying to find out that one little clue that will help the world to get rid of this pandemic. Talking about the cure, it will only come into play when one is affected (or in modern terms when one is "coronic"), what if we can prevent ourselves from getting affected? Well, this is why we're asked to stay at home, maintain social distancing, and lockdowns were introduced. But wait... what about our job? what about our schools? And here comes our best friend, "Information Technology"!
Before we talk about our above-mentioned best friend and how it is helping us, let us talk about the Corona Virus a bit to understand it better.
Coronaviruses are a group of common viruses that can cause various infections in mammals and birds. However, when humans are infected, these viruses can cause mild to severe respiratory infections including the common cold, and rare lethal forms like SARS, and MERS. These viruses are generally transmitted from animals to humans. As of now known, 7 kinds of coronaviruses are said to infect humans.
The protein spikes on these viruses are the reason for getting the name, Coronaviruses, as corona means the crown.
Symptoms: Symptoms of coronavirus varies from person to person, depending on its severity and type of infection. Signs of infection include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and respiratory difficulties. In severe cases, coronavirus infection can lead to other diseases like severe acute respiratory syndrome, pneumonia, kidney failure, and even death.
Now that we have a brief idea about the Corona Virus, let us talk about how IT is helping us in the hard times.
Ever since we are locked inside the four walls of our house, isolated from the outside world, the Internet has been like oxygen for us. To me, a worst-case scenario would be a home-quarantine without the internet. According to Cloudflare, a United States based company that provides network infrastructure to businesses around the world, said that between January and late March, internet traffic increased by around a quarter in many major cities. We now depend on the internet to do our jobs, to go to school, and to see other people. It is our primary source of entertainment. Demand has extensively increased for certain online services in particular, like Video calling and conferencing services, online games, etc. Video calls have replaced face-to-face interaction with colleagues, family, and friends alike. A recent study has shown that more people started using the video-conferencing software "Zoom" in the first two months of 2020 than in all of 2019. A huge number of people are found using Steam, a popular online PC game store, and probably the market has never seen such an off-season demand till date. To give you an idea about how huge this is, it was found in a recent date that more than 24 million players were logged on at the same time, a 25% jump since February 2020. Coming to the online grocery stores, it is found that they are unable to handle the surge in business, with customers waiting for hours in virtual lines thousands of people long. Netflix, an American media-services provider and production company, recently said that almost 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of the year, and that is almost double the new sign-ups it saw in the final months of 2019. So by now, it must be evident to you that the Internet has indeed been our best friend ever since lockdowns were declared in countries.
But wait! That's not all, there's a lot still left to say about our best friend, i.e., the Internet!
During this crisis, one of the most important things is to stay updated. It is always advised to stay aware of what's happening around you, and that's where news media comes to play. Although nowadays we have a lot of news channels airing news 24/7, but people still like to read news from the newspaper. Apart from that, not everyone has the time to stare at the news channels all day, every day, so people prefer to have a newspaper so that they could get a quick look at what's happening in the world. But, in these days of lockdown, hardly any shops are open and hence no newspaper. To fill this gap, people moved to online news.
According to statista.com, a German online portal for statistics has said, during the days of lockdown, the news consumption increased to a massive 36% worldwide!
Moreover, much of the media is heavily reliant on advertising. In any economic downturn, advertising is one of the first things to go, being seen as a discretionary spend. The sharper the downturn, the sharper the drop in advertising spend. This looks a sharp downturn. Well, thanks to our much-hated online ads, which fill this gap too.
Ah well, you must be surprised to see this section but there are indeed "robots" who are too trying their best to help us fight the pandemic.
Pudu Technology is a meal delivery robot currently operating in China, is being to deliver meals to those infected with the virus to avoid human contact while delivering meals.
EVD Robots from a Denmark based company called "Blue Ocean Robotics" is being used to disinfect rooms with its UV light tube, that sits right on its head.
Apart from this, every day a new company is coming up with a new robot model that can help us even better. Well, it is always said, Sky is the limit!
You've already guessed that I'm going to eventually speak about Artificial Intelligence at some point of time. Well yes, Artificial Intelligence is one of the finest creations of mankind. An article about Tech and COVID-19 without mentioning Artificial Intelligence would really be wrong!
The main advantage of AIs is that they can work 24/7 unlike we humans and can process more data. You'll be overwhelmed to know that one of the first warnings of this pandemic was given by an AI. Yep! You heard it right, an AI! Bluedot, a Canadian startup, came up with an Artificially Intelligent system that goes through government files, social media, news articles to find if an outbreak has started. It was successful in giving us warnings about this pandemic, however, we humans never followed the warning and we now see the consequences.
Jack Ma's Alibaba came up with an Artificially Intelligent System that can go through CT scans faster than humans. On average a human takes 15 minutes to diagnose the CT Scan data, but this tool does the same in just 20 seconds with 96% accuracy! Over a hundred clinics are using this tool to speed up Corona Virus tests. Cool isn't it?
Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause various infections in mammals and birds. These viruses cause mild to severe respiratory infections including the common cold, and rare lethal forms of diseases in Humans. These viruses are generally transmitted from animals to humans. The name "Corona" came from the word "Crown" because the protein spikes on these viruses look like a crown. The recent pandemic is because of a virus that belongs to this family of viruses.
Since COVID-19 lockdown, multiple online services like video calling, video gaming, etc have seen huge hikes in usages. Schools and Colleges have adopted online methods of education to prevent gathering. A huge number of companies have asked their employees to work from home to prevent gathering at offices.
Robots are being deployed to minimize human interaction in areas where traces of this virus have been found. Every new day a company or a startup comes up with a new robotic model that can help even better. Artificially Intelligent Systems are being used in clinics to speed up tests, and also helping the government to estimate the spread of this virus by processing big data collected by different companies.
Want more updates on Corona Virus? Please visit World Health Organisation's website on https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Want to make a mobile application or a website to spread awareness on this topic? Drop a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your idea.