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COVID-19 Updates for the Technology Industry

March 23, 2020
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In possibly the biggest economic and daily-life disruption since the Great Depression, where businesses and individuals are experiencing a seismic shift in their daily life, it can be daunting to find even a shred of positive news. What we’ve seen over the past two months has shaken the foundation of our global infrastructure. In times of chaos, normalcy is a sacred commodity and in the digital age, nothing could be more normal than technology. What’s abnormal is that tech, and the companies that support it, have emerged as leaders of early action and pioneers of critical operational adjustments. Most importantly, they are having concrete effects on the trajectory of our future.

The tech industry stepped in quickly with a cascade of increasingly aggressive decisions, with companies like Apple, Google, and Tesla shutting down corporate offices, factories, and retail stores across China in early February. When Washington State began reporting cases of COVID-19 the tech giants continued their response, with Microsoft, Amazon, and others enacting sweeping measures, shuttering offices, and immediately transitioning their workforces to a work-from-home set up. 

Yes, sending people home was the right thing to do, but more than that, early intervention kept essential services that millions of people rely on for communication, news, and basic necessities like grocery delivery and financial management up and running. As the crisis continues, more and more tech companies are stepping up to the plate:

  • Amazon donating $5m to help small businesses around its headquarters
    In early March, Amazon pledged to donate $5 million through The Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund to mitigate the consequences of the coronavirus. The Fund will provide cash grants to businesses in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington with fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue.
  • Chinese electric car maker now biggest mask maker
    BYD Co., an electric car maker backed by Warren Buffett, is producing up to 5 million masks a day after founder Wan Chuanfu and a team of engineers built production lines from scratch, using predominantly 90% in-house components. 
  • Tech outlines ‘Apollo Program’ for pandemic coding
    A Seattle epidemiologist from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center sees a three prong approach to flattening the curve of COVID-19 through a combination of at home testing development, cellphone location data, and serological assays.
  • Doctors and Patients Turn to Telemedicine in the Coronavirus Outbreak
    Hospitals and doctors across the country are utilizing telemedicine to try to contain the spread of infection and quickly identify the most at-risk patients and as an alternative to the stream of people heading to the emergency room, alleviating the already taxed health care system.
  • Internet Providers Won’t Cut Off Users Over Unpaid Bills for 60 Days
    69 telecommunications companies have committed, via the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge”, to open public Wi-Fi hot spots and continue to provide services to residential and small business customers regardless of whether they are able to pay their bill or not. Providers have also made broad provisions for customers with Comcast providing unlimited data for no additional fee, AT&T suspending all home phone terminations, and T-Mobile boosting free data allowances for schools and students.

Tech companies are quickly becoming integral solution masters for how to sustain the systems and services Americans rely on for every day needs. From collaboration tools, to e-learning solutions, to virtual meetings, the way we conduct business and live our lives has been forever shifted, and technology companies – both well-established brands and early-stage disruptors – will be significant contributors to what our “new normal” evolves into. As COVID-19 continues to rapidly change the way we interact with each other and the world around us, disruptions from mental health to supply chain management are being mitigated by public and private tech. The road out of this crisis is uncertain and fraught with questions, luckily, we’ll still be able to search for answers on Google.