Digital Technology Response to Covid-19

Image by WHO

As the global population is marred by the pandemic coronavirus outbreak, a flurry of websites, dashboards, online services and apps related to COVID-19 are being encountered across the globe. These tools developed by tech giants, start-ups, govt bodies, and healthcare organisations provide relevant information about the symptoms, prevention methods, screening steps, tracking of virus spread and measures to limit the risk to exposure. However, it is important for us to be aware of the most authentic ones to be visited.

Dashboards & Webpages:

Microsoft has launched a new interactive dashboard to provide information on the spread of the virus. The map highlights the total number of cases so far (18,59,000 as of today with 114,979+ deaths in over 175 countries) which is further broken down into cases per country. The tool pulls live data from variety of sources such as WHO, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and Wikipedia.

Apart from this pandemic, populations have to address another menace in the form of false news, videos and content that are flooding social channels. To counter these, Facebook owned WhatsApp has launched a coronavirus-related information website in partnership with WHO, UNICEF and UNDP. This page has latest and accurate info for general population, governments and healthcare professionals enabling them to communicate efficiently in these tragic times.

Quro is a Covid-19 risk assessment tool developed by Medius Health, an AI digital health company in Australia. This easy-to-use online conversational platform is in accordance with WHO guidelines, and aids in determining  your level of risk based on your symptoms, medical & travel history. It thereby imparts accurate detailed education on the virus and collects data for healthcare providers for early intervention.

Mobile Apps:

Tech giants – Apple and Google – recently announced a collaboration for developing a decentralised contact tracing tool which will aid an individual in determining an exposure to someone infected with Covid-19. This technology will work via smartphone’s bluetooth system and will work on both android and iOS.

Many countries are working vehemently to develop contact tracing mobile apps that could aid in arresting the spread of the novel coronavirus. India has launched, Arogya Setu app, which works through GPS and bluetooth. This android and iOS app informs an asymptotic person when she is in close proximity with a covid infected person. It sends alerts on the mobile of the person along with instructions for isolation.

Singapore uses TraceTogether app which runs on the aforementioned principle. France is working to develop a similar app for its citizens. However, fingers have been raised on the ‘official’ use of such apps for security and data governance reasons.

Education Tools:

As increasing number of countries have shut down schools and colleges, there are various online tools available which can be used by students and educators. Ekstep, an on-demand open learning platform, facilitates creation and consumption of educational content. Plenty of educational content is available on the app which can be used by students in a self-paced manner. Online tutoring platform Vedantu is providing free live classes for all its courses including IIT preparation modules. Latest ed-tech unicorn, Byju’s, is offering free access to its learning app till the end of April.

This comprehensive list by UNESCO can help you to pick the most apt one suiting your objective.

Regional Languages Platforms:

Regional language content start-ups in India have started publishing accurate content in local languages related to coronavirus in order to tackle misinformation. Josh Talks has added advisories to all its videos on eight different languages and has also initiated a series of videos by doctors and healthcare professionals spreading more awareness about the disease. These videos are dubbed in local languages for people to easily understand. Local news platform Lokal, which delivers local news, information and classifieds to 900 million non-English speaking users in India, is amplifying awareness through sharing relevant and accurate info, emergency contact numbers, videos etc.

The novel coronavirus global pandemic is a medical emergency that also requires a substantial individual effort to combat its spread and impact. We should make sure that only authentic information is gained and spread for the benefit of all.

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