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Adapted from an article originally published on kpmg.com by Tim Zanni, Global and U.S. Head of Technology, Media, Telecommunications; and Technology Sector Leader

As the COVID-19 outbreak expanded from a global health emergency to being classified as a global pandemic, many companies have shifted most, if not all, of their employees to working remotely in response. At the same time, in some markets, some schools, colleges and universities have closed their campuses and switched to more distance-learning. 

In Singapore, a month-long enhanced safe distancing measures were recently announced to stem the spread of COVID-19. During this period, most workplaces are shut down and businesses that are not offering essential services or in key economic sectors, have to implement telecommuting fully or stop work altogether.  

This re-emphasizes the fact that the technology exists today to enable these remote options to help to fight this virus. It’s innovation from the technology sector that is now almost taken for granted. 
 
There are many ways in which technology is being used to help in the efforts around the COVID-19 response. Some examples we are seeing: 

  • Stopping the spread of misinformation – Twitter has stated, “we have a prompt in place which directs people searching for COVID-19 content to accurate information from the relevant local bodies.”  Google’s Trust and Safety team “has been working around the clock and across the globe to safeguard our users from phishing, conspiracy theories, malware and misinformation, and we are constantly on the lookout for new threats.” 

  • Tracking the spread of the virus to enable faster response to hard hit areas – Facebook is working to supply anonymous data to researchers in this effort. In Singapore, the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) has launched a contact-tracing smartphone app that uses wireless Bluetooth technology to track people who have been exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases 

  • Efforts to diagnose patients and improve testing – Tencent is using their AI Medical Innovation System (AMIS) and cloud technology to help quickly identify cases. Verily, an Alphabet company, has created a website in collaboration with the state of California to expand access to COVID-19 screening and testing in areas with a high volume of known cases. Microsoft and Amazon have committed millions of dollars to help local healthcare workers on the front line 

  • Using supercomputers to assist in analysis for treatment development – Researchers are using the IBM-built Summit supercomputer to analyze compounds as they race to find a cure 

  • Autonomous vehicles and robots being used to deliver medical supplies to hospitals and food to those quarantined at home – JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce company, has enlisted such self-driving robots in Wuhan where the outbreak originated

  • Telemedicine to help flatten the curve. Providers of telehealth or telemedicine said that demand for video consultations with doctors had soared. Doctor Anywhere conducted 70 percent more video consultations in February since the outbreak started. Speedoc, a mobile clinic that attends to patients at their preferred location, said that business has doubled since the outbreak. This can help flatten the curve of infections

These are challenging times and one of the many take-aways is that in a time of crisis, as global industries, communities and citizens come together, we can find a solution together. This time it’s humans and technology together for the greater good.

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