COVID-19 has affected every part of the tech industry. From the manufacturing of products and the use of services to the way company employees work. Thank God we have these companies because they have done a tremendous job of coming together to fight this epidemic. We hear a lot in the news of COVID-19’s impact on the world and what we need to do to prevent it from spreading. Now, I want to point out how some tech companies have impacted the crisis and what they have done to prevent it from spreading.
There are two ways companies can work on damage control in this epidemic. The first involves fighting COVID-19 by providing resources to help with the vaccine, getting information to the general public about ways to prevent the spread, and donating money to hospitals for resources. The second is by providing a cushion for the economy so that when companies and people recover from the social distancing, people have jobs to get back to, families can recover, and companies can bounce back.
Apple’s 10M masks
Apple has donated $15 million towards the global COVID-19 response as well as efforts to lower the economic effect. It is also matching its employee donations two-to-one on a national and international level. Apple has donated 10 million masks to the medical community in the US. Like Microsoft started, Apple is continuing to pay all its hourly workers even though they can’t go to work. This includes people all its offices and retail store, which have been closed until March 27th.
Amazon 100K new jobs
Many people have lost their jobs, and others are relying on Amazon for supplies during our nationwide house arrest. Amazon is opening 100,000 new jobs to support those extra deliveries and provide a source of income for those who may have lost their jobs because of the crisis. Amazon is also increasing the pay of its employees by $2 per hour from their hourly pay of $15 per hour. It also goes without saying, Amazon has been consulting with health and safety officials to ensure the safety of its employees and its goods.
AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative
Amazon Web Services has launched its AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative. This initiative is to support customers who are putting forth efforts to fight the virus and to promote better collaboration between organizations that are working in a similar fashion. AWS’s focus is on diagnostics. Accurate detection and testing of the virus accelerates treatment and containment of the virus and ultimately shorten the crisis. AWS is committing an initial investment of $20 million towards diagnostic research and development of COVID-19.
Cisco $225M commitment
Cisco is committing $225 million to the various COVID-19 efforts. $8 million is in cash, and $210 million is in products and resources that focus on healthcare, education, government efforts, and technology. Cisco is also encouraging its 77,000 employees to give what they can by launching an employee matching gift campaign for $4 million in total giving. Cisco is providing funding and technology solutions for government agencies and businesses. Webex and Security are some of Cisco’s free software solutions with Security reaching over 2.2 million people online. I wrote an article on how Webex Is helping many people transition to working from home that you can find here. The Cisco Foundation also launched a campaign to allocate $5 million in grants towards nonprofits who have been helping their communities over the past months, globally.
Google DeepMind contribution to AlphaFold
Google is working with the US government on developing a website dedicated specifically to education and resources on COVID-19 nationwide. Information on COVID-19 is continually being broadcasted on Google products like Google Search Engine, Maps, and YouTube. It has had an incredible impact on getting information out with millions of viewers within the first 24 hours. Google is also taking misinformation off its sources, including strict policies for advertisements, video, and other media.
As a leading provider of WFH services, Google is giving Google Meet’s premium features for free until July 1st of this year and has created multiple resources for distance learning and those who are new to WFH.
Google has also contributed to advancing health research and science by contributing its DeepMind to the latest version of AlphaFold system. AlphaFold is a part of DeepMind’s AI solutions. The goal for the AlphaFold system is to release structure predictions of proteins related to SARS-CoV-2, the virus related to COVID-19. Google’s hope is to contribute to the scientific community’s understanding of how the virus functions. Verily, Alphabet’s health technology solutions company, is developing a body-worn temperature patch that communicates with a phone app to detect a fever to catch an early diagnosis of the flu or COVID-19.
Honeywell N95 masks
Honeywell is partnering with the US government to expand its manufacturing operations to produce N95 face masks. N95 masks protect the wearer from breathing in airborne particles. Not only will there be more masks, Honeywell says the expansion will create 500 more jobs in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
HP Inc. 3D printing resources
HP is partnering with its digital manufacturing community to provide 3D printing resources around the globe. Hand-Free Door Opener, Mask Adjuster, Face Shields, Field Ventilator, and FFP3 Face Masks are a few of the parts HP is working to validate and produce. These parts can help doctors and nurses who must face contamination of COVID-19 making safety health resources widely available. These part designs are being validated by HP as hospital-grade equipment. Anybody with a 3D printer can use these designs, and 3D manufacturers and production partners with HP are currently stepping up to fulfill these orders.
HPE Aruba medical ship and “Airheads” formation
HPE’s unique way of helping comes from its networking and solutions company Aruba. Aruba assisted one of its customers by installing its network on a ferry to become a medical ship to those affected by COVID-19 in the Liguria region. Aruba’s partners were Grandi Navi Veloci (GNV), the ferry company. Aruba is providing resources like these to pop-up clinics, temporary hospitals in the US, UK, and EU. Finally, it is donating 5,000 secure networking kits worth approximately $50 million USD and you can find more information here.
HPE Aruba also created the Airheads Volunteer Corps, a global registry of volunteer network engineers ready the company says is to “assist in the build-out of network infrastructures for medical facilities on the front lines of dealing with this pandemic.”
IBM HPC Consortium and White House Office of Science
IBM is in collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology and many others to help launch the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium. The COVID-19 HPC Consortium brings computing power from companies like IBM to scientists and researches so they can run large calculations in epidemiology, bioinformatics, and molecular modeling. These calculations are a critical component to finding a compound to combat the virus. Under traditional computing platforms, these calculations would take months to complete where, at that time, it would be too late. Apart from IBM’s charitable computing power is its Power9-based Summit supercomputer, which has enabled researchers to recommend the 77 small-molecule drug compounds to be experimentally tested. You can read more about IBM’s Summit supercomputer and its contributions to fighting COVID-19 here.
Other Consortium industry partners include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Intel and BGI Genomics and hospital robots
Intel is very proud of its Pandemic Leadership team, which has been established for more than 15 years. It is using its AI and high-performance computing to partner with Lenovo and BGI Genomics to accelerate the analysis of genomic characteristics of COVID-19. You can find more info on that here.
Intel has deployed platform-based robots in China hospitals to separate doctors and nurses from the virus by transporting equipment and supplies. Intel has also recognized that many people are working from home and doing school virtually. Intel is working alongside its customers and partners to provide virtual learning solutions to students and teachers.
Microsoft first to commit to paying out of work hourly workers
Microsoft is the first large tech company to commit to keeping paying hourly workers. Since Microsoft has joined other companies in asking employees to work from home, those hourly workers who can’t work from home are still getting paid. Microsoft is committed to keeping those who are reliant on its WFH and virtual learning solutions connected.
Microsoft also is helping the CDC quickly asses symptoms and risk factors for people with possible symptoms and provide information for the best course of action. Microsoft is using its Healthcare Bot Service, which is powered by Microsoft Azure to help with these assessments.
NVIDIA free 90 day Parabricks license
NVIDIA with Parabricks to providing a 90-day license for any researcher who wants to join in fighting COVID-19. Parabricks is a software toolkit that uses the computational power of GPUs towards genomic analysis. Researchers are using genomic analysis of the COVID-19 as well as people afflicted with the virus to understand better the virus and those who are most affected. NVIDIA Parabricks is about 35-50 times faster than traditional methods of genome sequencing. That difference is a matter of hours rather than days. One of the first cloud service providers to partner with NVIDIA on this is Oracle. Oracle will provide GPUs through its cloud infrastructure.
NVIDIA has also voiced its support for Folding@Home by calling out all gamers to donate their unused GPU computing power. Folding@Home takes unused GPU power and uses it to create simulations so that researchers can map the proteins of COVID-19.
T-Mobile, launched its lowest price 5G smartphone plan. For $15 a month plus tax, the plan includes unlimited talk and text and 2Gb of high-speed data. $15 a month is half the price of T-Mobile’s lowest ever smartphone plan. A more expensive $25 plan includes 5GB of high-speed data instead of 2GB. T-Mobile’s initiative for this phone plan is to keep people connected in a time where COVID-19 has put many people in financial stress. T-Mobile is also giving T-Mobile and Metro customers unlimited smartphone data for the next two months, including non-unlimited legacy plans, and an additional 20Gb of smartphone mobile hotspot to plans with Hotspot data.
It is incredible to see tech companies be so quick to come to the aid of our researchers, businesses, and education systems. If there ever were an Avengers Squad, I would say they have assembled. They have reacted to this crisis in some incredible ways, and ways that have yet to be mentioned.
If there is any silver lining during this crisis it is that even though we are humans, we can come together for the common good of humanity.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.