7 recent responses from big tech for COVID-19 recovery


From launching contact tracing technologies to backing virtual research studies, tech giants Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have made several recent moves in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Google and Apple partnered in April to develop a COVID-19 tracking system that uses Bluetooth technology and application programming interfaces to make iOS and Android devices interoperable. The system, which is expected to launch in mid-May, will allow third-party developers and public health agencies to create apps that are compatible with both types of software so they can track and notify people who have been in close proximity to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

Here are some of Google and Apple's other tech initiatives as well as Amazon and Microsoft's responses to the COVID-19 recovery effort.


1. Google Nest partnered with New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System this week to install video and audio tech to monitor critically ill COVID-19 patients. Mount Sinai's COVID-19 nurses are now using more than 100 Nest cameras to livestream feed from the inpatient units and communicate directly with patients.

2. Google.org donated another $50 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief efforts. The second round of funding includes $15 million for health and science efforts, including Boston Children's Hospital's HealthMap, which monitors the disease outbreak and provides real-time surveillance of public health threats. The tech giant also launched two new features in Search and Maps that direct users to virtual care options when available.


3. In April, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the company would produce 1 million face shields a week for healthcare providers. The tech giant also partnered with the White House and CDC last month to develop a new website and app that provides up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a screening tool for users to check their symptoms.


4. Amazon's COVID-19 response is focused on building databases for clinicians, funding clinical trials and shipping diagnostic tests. Amazon built an online registry for potential blood plasma donors in a collaboration with Michigan State University in East Lansing, and the tech giant's cloud service made its COVID-19 data lake available to the public in April to give hospitals, researchers and public health officials access to real-time datasets on COVID-19 characteristics and spread.

5. Earlier this week, Amazon Web Services also made its enterprise search service Amazon Kendra generally available to organizations to make their data more searchable.


6. Microsoft partnered with Adaptive Biotechnologies this week to launch a virtual clinical study of immune response to the COVID-19 virus. The companies will make the de-identified data of 1,000 patient participants available to public health officials and academia to accelerate development of a treatment for the disease.

7. Microsoft is also focusing on healthcare cybersecurity during the pandemic. The tech giant made its AccountGuard threat notification service available to healthcare providers in April to protect against cyber attacks and also teamed up with Imprivata to develop new digital identity projects to help healthcare organizations securely transition to cloud platforms.  

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