Table of contents:
- Social control apps
- Teleworking and distance education
- Shop and eat online
- He alth systems apps
- 3D printing and makers
The epidemic of coronavirus COVID-19 poses a global challenge, and one of the reasons for its spread is technical advances that have allowed rapid mobility of people around the world. However, technology is also a key ally in the fight against the coronavirus.
We live in a situation unprecedented in many decades, but we also have means to combat diseases that were not present in previous epidemics. And we are not just talking about medical technology, but about many other aspects.
Controlling the coronavirus requires a quarantine with enormous implications: cessation of work activities, social isolation, restrictions on daily activities such as going to the supermarket… and now we are going to see how technology helps us overcome these problems.
Social control apps
The most extreme (and effective) measures to contain the coronavirus COVID-19 appear to be those of China and South Korea, which basically boil down to controlling the population with the mobile, cross data from various sources and thus decide who should remain in total quarantine.
The Chinese government created an application that monitors each citizen, and assigns them a color code: green if they consider them safe, orange if you have to stay at home for 7 days and red if you are in quarantine for 14 days.
This is reflected in a QR code, which needs to be scanned in many places: jobs, shopping malls, government buildings and even in checkpoints on the street. If the QR is not green, that citizen will not be able to access.
The Chinese mobile app is not based on a real coronavirus test, but on "big data" (analysis of large quantities of aggregated data). If the GPS of the mobile, or the scans of the authorities, indicate that we have been in an area with infected people, a preventive quarantine will be ordered.
The application against the coronavirus requires providing a lot of personal information, as it identifies each citizen, requests he alth data, information on trips prior to Hubei (province where Wuhan is) and record body temperature every day.
This use of technology is in conflict with European privacy regulation, and with many of the rights and freedoms we enjoy on Spain.
But we must not forget that the state of alarm has been decreed precisely because of the seriousness of the coronavirus crisis, and gives the Government exceptional powers to manage it, although Congress must approve extensions in its duration.
In any case, China starts with an "advantage" for the control of the coronavirus through technology. Social surveillance was already established before in many aspects of daily life, so a good part of the infrastructure existed, and citizens were used to it.
Teleworking and distance education
One of the keys to curbing the coronavirus is social distancing measures, that is, keeping people away from each other others. In this way, the rate of contagion is reduced so that he althcare does not become more saturated.
However, completely paralyzing a country of 46 million inhabitants has consequences that are also important, especially economically. Luckily, thanks to the Internet keeping classes is possible, and many jobs can also be adapted to working online
Very good part of the tasks that are carried out in an office are easy to transfer to an online environment. In general, the Spanish infrastructure is ready, as fast fiber connections are the norm in the cities and 4G reaches many places (almost 90% availability according to the independent study of Opensignal in 2019).
The problem arises with the capacity of the network, since the traffic has grown a lot with millions of people locked up at home Netflix, YouTube, Disney+ and other data-hungry services have voluntarily reduced video quality to ease the load.
When it comes to work, video call apps are very useful for virtual meetings, apart from the fact that there are various tools for teleworking, including Office 365for documents, Slack or Microsoft Teams for team communication, and Google Drive or Dropboxto share files.
On the other hand, there are tools for distance learning, such as Moodle, which can help. Unfortunately, it is not easy to reach all students, especially at non-university levels, as some do not have the equipment and adequate connection.
Technology would perfectly allow distance work and education, but in many cases what fails are the procedures in companies and educational centers, which have not been able to adapt so quickly to the arrival of the coronavirus.
Shop and eat online
Social distancing is key to slowing the spread of coronavirus, but even at home there are certain items we can't do without: food, basic hygiene, medicines, cleaning…
Luckily, there are websites where you can shop online, belonging to large chains (Carrefour, Mercadona, Eroski, Día, El Corte Inglés…) that reduce contact when making home deliveries.
Although the delivery people are still exposed, and there is some contact, in general it is a system that reduces the risks of contagion of the coronavirus compared to going to a physical store. After the saturation of the first few days, little by little the online supermarkets have strengthened and deliveries have more reasonable terms.
On the other hand, it is also possible to order food at home, with applications such as Just Eat, although in that case the risk to the delivery man is older: these services often offer debatable working conditions, and the delivery will only serve us for a single meal.
Of course, Deliveroo and Uber Eats have begun to bring home purchases, not just restaurant dishes, so in this regard technology has adapted quickly to the coronavirus.
He alth systems apps
The he alth system of the countries affected by the coronavirus has been saturated, and Spain has not been an exception. One of the measures to avoid this are the apps launched by the autonomous communities with self-assessment tests for the coronavirus.
Since the ability to perform tests is limited, the application asks the user for a series of symptoms, and tells them if they should seek medical attention, or simply stay home.
It's a very simple idea, but powerful. In this way, reduce consultations for mild cases, which could also spread the coronavirus further, and offer peace of mind to the population.
In fact, the WHO is working on its coronavirus app, and a group of Spanish developers has created a social control application for the coronavirus, similar to the one used in China, proposing to the government that use it to control the population during the epidemic.
3D printing and makers
One of the big problems of the coronavirus is the percentage of patients who are severely affected, and must be admitted to ICUs(intensive care units) for a respirator to help your lungs.
The number of respirators available is not enough, and manufacturers have serious problems meeting the needs in the current circumstances.
Among the most enthusiastic about technology are the "makers", a community that creates their own devices, such as simple robots, using 3D printing, Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, among other elements.
Many makers are using their 3D printers to make respirators, mimicking commercial models. The design itself is not excessively problematic, but they must be tested by medical professionals to verify that they perform their function correctly, since the lives of patients depend on them.
In Spain they are already carrying out the first tests of these alternative respirators in hospitals, but even in this emergency situation they cannot be Skip a few minimal checks, so it's not clear when, if at all, they will be generally usable.
In other cases, what is manufactured is transparent plastic protective masks, whose design is much simpler. Although they do not provide adequate protection against the coronavirus, some doctors use them together with masks as an alternative in the absence of other safer materials.
In short, although the advances that have made globalization possible are partly to blame for the coronavirus epidemic, technology is also helping in a key way against COVID -19, and adapting very quickly to the needs that arise in this unusual scenario.