COVID-19 has the changed way we live. Frontline workers are the most significant contributors for fighting COVID-19 and ensuring our safety during this difficult time. Technology is also playing a crucial role in keeping our society functionable. Here is some technology that is helping us get through the pandemic, some of which might stick around if the pandemic is over.
Covid-19 Alert App
The Covid-19 Alert app uses Bluetooth exchange technology to share random codes with nearby phones. The app will use the code to identify whether the user is exposed to the coronavirus. The code changes every 5 minutes, so it cannot be used to identify you. No one has the access to your name, address, contacts, location, or your health information. The Government of Canada is strongly encouraging people to install this app to help stop the spread of the virus.
The Covid-19 Alert app is currently available for download in all provinces and territories in Canada. You can download it on Google Play store or Apple App Store. However not all provinces and territories are able to report a diagnosis.
Online Grocery and Contactless Payment
Even though the pandemic forces us to stay home, our need for groceries will not be affected. Grocery shopping might be a task some people tend to avoid, even if most grocery stores ensure proper safety protocols. As a result, online grocery shopping has become more popular. Instacart is a grocery shopping app where customers can order groceries online from participating retailers such as Walmart and Sobeys and have them delivered to their home. Instacart also offers same-day delivery in many cities across Canada including Waterloo!
Remote Learning and Working
Remote learning and working allows us to stay connected safely in this pandemic. The federal government is conducting a connectivity strategy that ensures everyone in Canada has stable, high quality internet connection across the country. The University of Waterloo is partnering with Rogers to advance the research on 5G technology, making UWaterloo one of the first smart campuses in Canada. The University of Waterloo provides support to these three virtual meeting apps: Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, and Cisco Webex Meeting. The University also provides free Cisco VPN and Alibaba VPN to ensure the UWaterloo community can access the campuses digital resources anytime, anywhere.
3D Printing Applications for Covid-19
The 3D printing community is coming together to help fight Covid-19. Some big problems our healthcare system is facing are the lack of tests and medical supply’s such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Company’s such as NASCAR is giving its 3D printing equipment and technology to Ford and Toyota to tackle the medical supply shortage. Formlabs, a company in Massachusetts is using its 250 3D printers to produce 100,000 nasal swabs for Covid-19 testing every day. 3D printing is also contributing to manufacturing of medical equipment such as ventilator valves and emergency respiration device, and PPE such as masks and mask fitters. However, there are certain technical challenges associated with 3D printing, such as producing PPE that comply with the safety standard. 3D-printed face masks may provide a physical barrier but are unlikely to provide a barrier that prevents the virus from entering our body. The 3D printing technology is still improving and perhaps this pandemic can help discover more possibilities of 3D printing.
Many would wonder how big data helps us go through this pandemic. It is true that big data provides the opportunity for businesses to analyze their customers’ consuming behaviour so that they can personalize products for the customers. With 189,387 confirmed cases in Canada, and 38.7 million confirmed cases worldwide, using big data allows rapid information collection of a large population and gathers real-time information about COVID-19. For example, people finally realize that loss of taste or smell is an early predictor of being infected. It is because the big data shows that there is a significant number of patients that share this symptom. Medical institutions across Canada can share this big data, this can help better distribute the resources.
As you can see, these technologies not only directly benefit us right now, but also let us appreciate them more. This technology could be beneficial in the case of a future crisis.