Technology companies and the entrepreneurs behind them, are stepping in to help during the pandemic.
- Around the world, tech start-ups are putting leading-edge innovations at the service of frontline workers.
- Many use artificial intelligence and cloud computing to help organizations process data, giving new insights to help fight the virus.
- Some companies have made their software available for free to those who need it most.
Behind the achievements of those working on the COVID-19 front line there are many organizations and entrepreneurs doing what they can to help.
Across the globe, these companies are using everything from software and robotics to good old-fashioned cooperation to fight against the disease.
1. Cargo X
This Brazilian logistics technology company has set up a $5.6m fund to support the transport of essential goods, like food, medicines and essential hygiene products, in the country during the pandemic.
The scheme works by paying the wages of carriers and drivers – keeping the market going at a time when the country is being hit hard by the virus. The system pays mostly upfront: 70% of the money when the goods are loaded and the remaining 30% on delivery.
The software therefore helps spread the cost in a way that supports workers when cash flow is tight.
2. Takeoff Technologies
Grocery stores have seen a spike in online sales during the pandemic, and many have ramped up digital ordering and delivery services to cope. But fulfilling online orders can be tricky when staffing is tight and store aisles are congested.
Enter US-based retail technology firm Takeoff Technologies and its “micro-fulfillment centres”. It creates mini warehouses at the back of grocery stores which use robots to prepare customers’ orders. This helps with social distancing and allows local businesses without existing automated warehouses to compete in online food – a trend that is expected to be accelerated by COVID-19.
3. Starling Bank
During the pandemic people around the world have been self-isolating. Staying at home, they have depended on others for food and other essentials. But how to pay them?
British fintech firm Starling Bank has one solution: a debit card that allows a trusted person to buy things on the owner’s behalf. The “Connected card” – linked to the owner’s account – also removes the need for any physical exchange of cash or cheques, providing an extra layer of protection for a vulnerable person.
Mastercard and prepaid card firm PFS have also developed cash alternatives for Britain’s carers and volunteers.
South Korean medical software company Lunit develops artificial intelligence programmes that can diagnose lung diseases via X-ray images.
The company has now made its software available online for free. Hospitals in Brazil, as well as South Korea, are able to upload up to 20 cases per day for AI diagnosis.
The company says innovations like AI have been an important contributor to flattening the curve of COVID-19 cases in South Korea.