As IT pros around the world go all-out to support a workforce that’s suddenly fully remote, many technology workers and companies are also joining efforts to alleviate the COVID-19 crisis in various ways, including developing products to combat the virus, tracking and predicting its spread, and protecting hospitals from cyberattacks.
Apple launches app COVID-19 app, website
Apple on Friday unveiled a screening tool and set of resources designed to help people stay updated on the ongoing pandemic and take steps to protect their health. The information provided is based on the latest Centers for Disease Control guidance.
The new COVID-19 website and the COVID-19 app (now available in the company’s App Store), were created jointly with the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Federal Emergency management Agency.
The app and website allow users to answer a series of questions involving risk factors, recent exposure and symptoms of the coronavirus. In turn, users will get CDC recommendations on next steps, including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to monitor symptoms, whether or not a test is recommended, and when to contact a medical provider. This screening tools are not designed to replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities, the company said.
Start-up Apollo tweaks platform to match healthcare pros with hospitals
A health-tech startup that matches healthcare professionals with healthcare organizations and facilities seeking immediate shift coverage has relaunched its platform in light of an expected nationwide shortage of nurses, physicians, healthcare workers, and volunteers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The online tool from Apollo is intended to reduce the strain on the U.S. healthcare system; Apollo has waived any fees for using its platform for the next four weeks.
Using the platform, hospitals can post jobs and job-seeking professionals can create profiles. An algorithm then matches those institutions needing immediate assistance with potential employees to address staffing challenges. Apollo has more than 90 physicians enrolled from several major health systems.
“As medical professionals, we understand the desperate need of the healthcare community right now,” said Apollo Founder and CEO Jon Lensing. “We believe that this shift in our original plans better serves our hurting nation. Our mission has always been to help save lives, and it will forever remain that.”
“COVID-19 has rapidly changed life in the United States in ways that few thought possible just weeks ago,” the company said in a statement. “While we adapt to these changes, there may be even more changes to come including increased strain and demand on our healthcare facilities and healthcare providers. At Apollo, we want to help mitigate the stress endured by both healthcare facilities and healthcare providers.”
IBM, Google, Microsoft, HPE and others create an HPC consortium
A number of major tech players, government agencies and universities has joined forces to create a COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium that hopes to speed up the fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The group includes IBM, AWS, Google, HPE, Microsoft, NASA, the U.S. National Labs, NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Energy, among others.
The idea is to meld the high-performance computing (HPC) systems supported by consortium members to help researchers run massive amounts of epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling calculations. The experiments would take years to complete if done by hand, or months if handled on slower, traditional computing platforms, according to IBM.
New York’s technology SWAT teams
“New York State is launching technology driven products with leading global tech companies to accelerate and amplify our response to COVID-19,” the state said on its official website. “We are looking for impactful solutions and skilled tech employees to help. Individuals from leading global technology companies are being deployed across high-impact and urgent coronavirus response activities.”
In particular, New York is seeking “experience in product management, software development/engineering, hardware deployment and end-user support, data science, operations management, design, or other similar areas. Technology companies, universities, nonprofits, research labs, and other organizations with technology expertise are invited to submit an expression of interest.”
IT pros interested in helping must complete an “Interest Form.” The state envisions 90-day deployments and is focusing on workers already working remotely, especially in the Eastern and Central U.S. time zones.
“Given that many employers are having many workers work from home, volunteers would collaborate virtually with New York State teams,” the state said. “So, preference will be given to those in the Eastern and Central US time zones, but we are open to the west coast as well.”
New York — especially New York City — has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and leads the nation in diagnosed cases.