Fantastic Friday (& Super Saturday) #006 | A CALL TO ACTION – Coronavirus – COVID-19

As I sit in my office at home under self-imposed self-isolation, I’m taking a different approach.

As we all know, coronavirus, full name: SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), is taking its toll around the globe. My heart goes out to the likes of China and Italy and every other individual, family and organization around the world affected by this indiscriminate virus that has changed the way in which the world functions on a daily basis.

Yes, we are dealing with something that has not been seen since the likes of the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. But here’s the rub. We now have some of the most advanced technology to fight this nasty little virus. I would imagine that someone from 1918 would be amazed at the technological advances we have made since then.

Let’s be patriotic first. Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed rapid testing technology for the COVID-19 virus. The scientific team are from the University of Oxford’s Engineering Science Department and the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research (OSCAR). They have developed a rapid testing technology for the novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and the team, led by Prof Zhanfeng Cui and Prof Wei Huang, have been working to improve test capabilities as the virus spreads internationally. You can read the whole article here.

Autodesk have stepped up too, to try and ensure that their massive user base can work remotely and in the cloud. This (in my eyes) is essential right now. We must keep working. We must keep designing and building. We cannot quit. Autodesk have set up the Extended Access Program, extending trial periods of their flagship Cloud Collaboration software. You can find the Autodesk press release here. Not only will this keep the Autodesk user base working, it will also allow our amazing techies and geeks out there to work towards solutions to fight the virus.

Which brings me on to one of the more inspirational parts of my blog. I love a bit of 3D printing. I find the workflow fascinating. You design something virtual, then hit a button, and there it is, real and in front of you. Italy have been hit hard by coronavirus, and I mean really HARD. You only have to watch the news to see the heartbreaking scenes in their hospitals. An Italian startup company have utilized that amazing 3D printing technology to start creating their own 3D printed valves for respirators in hospitals. Christian Fracassi, founder and CEO of Isinnova, saw that the hospital in Chiari, in the Brescia area of northern Italy where the coronavirus pandemic has hit hard, urgently needed valves for its respirators. These valves were urgently needed in order to keep patients who required oxygen alive. The manufacturer couldn’t provide them quickly enough and the hospital was desperate. Fracassi started on a 3D prototype immediately. It was tested by the hospital and it worked. Now, these valves are an emergency effort in a moment of dire need. They have not been tested thoroughly and there are the usual legal implications. In my view, all of these ‘hoops’ need to be waived. It is one of the direst moments in our history and Fracassi and his company, Isinnova, are stepping up to be counted, and saving lives. You can read more about this in the Forbes article here.

USA Today have published a fascinating article (here) about how the latest technology can be used to treat and monitor patients. Ranging from the MedWand (pending FDA approval) to the Tyto, where doctors can work from a distance, thus removing the need for patients to sit in a waiting room, where there is always that possibility of contracting coronavirus.

The White House has issued a call to action for tech data-mining companies to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) for data research on the coronavirus. The AI takes away all the painstaking research work of looking through information, allowing scientists and doctors to find what they need in a huge amount of information. To find the proverbial needle in a haystack, you might say. The official White House statement is here.

Tech leaders are key to many companies’ emergency plans. The economy has taken a big hit due to coronavirus and companies need to take heed and make moves towards preserving some sort of status quo in the global economy. Chief technical officers of the world’s largest tech companies (such as Prakash Kota, CIO of Autodesk) are now the ones who must use their technology for good. This article in Forbes magazine is an informative read to see how their roles on the world stage are now fundamental to us moving forward.

Telemedicine (medical care from a distance) could have its baptism of fire, due to coronavirus. There is a huge range of remote medical care technology out there, and this article in Time magazine discusses it at length. Due to the easy spread of coronavirus, this kind of tech is exactly what the world needs right now, and I can see this being the way of the future. No more waiting rooms, full of sick people, passing their germs to one another. You would simply stay at home (as I am now) and use a device that reports my vitals to the doctor for a diagnosis.

Imagine this situation. You have just gone into remission after receiving cancer care. You are free of one of the most insidious diseases known to mankind and then coronavirus pops up on your radar. You are one of the most ‘at risk’ categories for the virus. Would you use that kind of tech to stay safe and talk to a doctor from a distance? I know I would.

My call to action is this. If you have tech that can help, use it. Reach out to elderly loved ones. Do an online shop for them. Perhaps buy them an Amazon Echo or a Facebook Portal to use cool tech to talk to each other. Just Skype or FaceTime.

If you can even just help another, such as an elderly person who needs shopping, do it. If you’re ill, stay and shelter in place until you’re not. If you are at risk, follow the guidelines and reach out to friends and loved ones.

This will not be an easy ride, but we all have the tech, tenacity and resilience to get through to the other side. To use a phrase; this, too, shall pass.

Please hang on in there, stay safe, and most of all, be kind to one another.

It’s Fantastic Friday (and Super Saturday).

Be fantastic and super, to others, and yourselves too. 😉

SCB.

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