As the world races against the clock to find the cure against COVID-19, big tech companies are also stepping up their role to help the medical industry.
Before the widespread threat of the COVID-19 virus, big tech companies are among the most vilified industries. They are criticized over allegations of unethical data harvesting and tracking users.
Recently, these very same critics are tapping the massive computing and data held by big tech companies like Google and Facebook. Some use big data to create models on how to properly address the pandemic. Massive computing power provided by artificial intelligence and deep learning are used to find a cure for the virus.
Big data and user tracking
Two big tech companies announced that they are partnering to help solve the COVID-19 crisis. Google and Apple confirmed that they are working on software updates for their respective mobile operating systems that will allow the tracking of mobile phones. Google is the primary developer for Android, while Apple is the developer of iOS.
Many medical experts agree that contact tracing is an effective solution to help curb the spread of the virus. However, doing this manually is a daunting and time-consuming effort.
Mobile phones are very common these days, and it can serve as the perfect tool to track users. By implementing phone tracking solutions, big tech companies can help medical experts in tracking those who test positive of the virus.
An open-source pledge to boost supplies
A number of major tech companies have also signed a pledge that will allow manufacturers access to their intellectual properties. Among those that signed the open-source pledge are Amazon, IBM, Facebook, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
The initiative was launched earlier this month. Among the first to take the pledge are Mozilla and Creative Commons. Chipmaker Intel have freed up more than 72,000 patents for manufacturers and developers to use.
Tech companies around the world are also stepping up their efforts. In Italy, small tech companies and startups started 3D printing medical supplies like ventilators and personal protection equipment.
Some analysts have noted that the pandemic is a great opportunity for big tech companies to work on their image and reputation. Most of these companies are suspected of unethical practices like unlawful data harvesting.
It would appear that big tech companies have responded to the call against the COVID-19 pandemic. After the pandemic, a reassessment of their actions will not go unnoticed.