In the Fight Against COVID-19, These Companies Have Software and Skills to Spare
Over the last several months, many of the world’s largest corporations have stepped up with donations of money, food and supplies in an effort to mitigate the damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.
But charitable initiatives aren’t the only way some companies are giving back. A slew of companies big and small have found that their services, technologies and skills could be helpful in charting solutions to the many problems brought about by the pandemic.
And those problems are wide-reaching. The pandemic’s fallout sprawls across all sectors of the economy — meaning that responses need to be just as varied. Cybersecurity companies are helping businesses secure their employees’ home offices, healthtech companies are quarterbacking ever-changing CDC guidelines to keep healthcare providers informed, and logistics companies are tracking the ebb and flow of travel and trade restrictions.
While these actions aren’t quite as flashy as big-dollar donations, they do offer a glimpse at how different industries are mobilizing responses to the pandemic.
As a provider of network-enabled services for healthcare providers and apps, Massachusetts-based athenahealth has taken a number of measures to assist its partner network’s response to COVID-19. Doctors can access the very latest CDC guidance through athenahealth’s app, which condenses the organization’s recommendations into an algorithmic format. Doctors can then query those guidelines as they relate to their patients.
Meanwhile, the company’s order and referral management software is now helping healthcare providers order commercial COVID-19 testing kits through regular workflows. Its engineers are also pushing nightly software updates to align athenahealth’s existing products with the latest recommendations from the CDC.
“We are mobilizing our ecosystem to support the healthcare community.”
“In this moment of unprecedented pressure for frontline community providers, the entire athenahealth team is focusing on creating and deploying the resources our customers need the most to treat their patients and do their work seamlessly and safely,” Chairman and CEO Bob Segert said in a statement. “We are mobilizing our ecosystem to support the healthcare community with real-time information, seamless integration with solutions from telehealth and lab test partners, and enhanced scheduling capabilities that reduce the burden on practice staff.”
Esri’s software and associated applications combine mapping and data analytics technology so that manufacturers, governments, utilities and businesses can find value in geographic data. To help governments and public health officials make better decisions as they build and deploy COVID-19 mitigation policies and treatment programs, Esri is making its location intelligence and geographic information system and mapping software available for relevant organizations. The company has collected a series of open-source maps, apps, datasets and dashboards to illustrate the impact of COVID-19.
“The pattern that is emerging is one of building an information system for pandemics.”
“Around the world, around this country and around your regions, the GIS community is responding,” President and Founder Jack Dangermond said in a video posted to YouTube in April. “The pattern that is emerging is one of building an information system for pandemics. GIS support teams are standing these up, bringing different web services together and supporting these applications with surveillance, planning, logistics, operations, executive awareness, presentations of real-time awareness, situation awareness and are increasingly collaborating with communities and each other.”
With so many white collar employees now working from home — and often handling sensitive data — many companies are more exposed to cyberattacks than ever before. In addition to a series of cybersecurity-focused instructional events and ramping up endpoint protection efforts, BlackBerry published a white paper designed to help organizations create seamless and secure workflows for remote staff. In it, the company offers actionable and vendor-agnostic steps that IT and security teams can take to implement security strategies for a distributed workforce.
“This effort must include security as a top priority for organizations in order to prevent the compromise of critical systems and sensitive data.”
“The initial goal of IT teams in this shift to work-from-home was to make sure employees have access to the applications and the resources they need to effectively do their jobs,” VP of Global Technical Solutions Alex Willis wrote in a blog post. “This effort must include security as a top priority for organizations in order to prevent the compromise of critical systems and sensitive data, and to maintain regulatory compliance.”
Logistics provider Expeditors International designs and builds supply chain management technology, a field that’s taking a major hit as national governments impose lockdowns, curfews and travel bans. The company has been monitoring COVID-19 since late last year when the virus first began spreading throughout China’s Hubei province. To help importers and exporters struggling with a global trade network in turmoil, the Seattle-based firm is publishing real-time updates as governments shift policy to slow the virus’ spread.
“In order to navigate this situation and mitigate impacts to supply chains, forecasting and pre-planning become essential.”
“There are a lot of moving parts to this complex equation,” Director of Global Airline Development Jeff Howard wrote in a February blog post dedicated to the evolving situation in China. “In order to navigate this situation and mitigate impacts to supply chains, forecasting and pre-planning become essential. Planning considerations include: What freight will be ready to go? When will it be ready? Where does the freight need to be and by when? This is not as simple as it sounds, with the uncertainty surrounding people returning to work in factories, airports, warehouses, and not to mention, limitations on transportation of people and goods via truck and rail within China.”
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
When the government launched its Paycheck Protection Program in early April, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston anticipated that a second fund would soon be on the way. Sure enough, when Congress voted to add $310 billion to the fund on April 23, the bank was ready with a set of resources designed to help small businesses navigate the PPP process. The Boston Fed published a resource page to help business owners determine their eligibility and take advantage of the program, a list of technical assistance providers, and a registry of lenders able to process PPP loans for non-customers.
“We know access has been hard, and the registry provides some concrete direction.”
“We know that small businesses are fundamental to the New England economy,” Senior Vice President and Community Affairs Officer Prabal Chakrabarti said in an accompanying statement. “We know access has been hard, and the registry provides some concrete direction.”