A growing number of tech companies and IT pros are working in a variety of ways to help fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a rundown of what some of them are doing to help fight COVID-19.
As IT pros around the world go all-out to support a workforce that’s suddenly fully remote, many technology workers and companies are also joining efforts to alleviate the COVID-19 crisis in various ways, including developing products to combat the virus, tracking and predicting its spread, and protecting hospitals from cyberattacks.
CenturyLink donates high-speed internet to temp hospitals
As the number of temporary hospitals grows in the U.S. to help patients affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, CenturyLink said it’s donating mich-needed fast internet connections to the facilities.
“Grappling with the sudden need for more hospital beds and overflow capacity, local municipalities are transforming various facilities into temporary field hospitals,” the company said in a statement. The list of facilities the company is provisioning now includes:
. The U.S. Naval Ship Mercy, now operating at the port of Los Angeles. CenturyLink set up high-speed connectivity for the Mercy and a 1-gigabit Ethernet circuit connecting the Defense Information Systems Agency’s shored-based Naval Air Station North Island to the ship.
. The CenturyLink Field Event Center in Seattle, which got a 200 Mbps fiber connection.
. The Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center in Salem, Ore., which got a 1-gigabit Ethernet connection.
. Seattle, which got high-speed fiber internet connections at eight quarantine locations.
“This is the beginning of our essential work to assist healthcare workers on the front lines, as we respond where we are needed the most,” said Ed Morche, CenturyLink’s president of government and enterprise markets. “As these needs arise across the country, CenturyLink is coordinating with local government, hospitals, and the military to locate field hospitals on our network so we can provide immediate connectivity.”
Domo updates COVID-19 Global Tracker
Looking to bolster the data about the pandemic it’s already providing, analytics firm Domo has updated its free, interactive Coronavirus (COVID-19) Global Tracker with county-level infection statistics, stay-at-home orders and testing-by-state data.
“We’ve seen incredible interest in this free resource as organizations of all kinds seek to quickly understand how the virus is impacting the world in which they operate,” said Domo CEO and founder Josh James. “Easy access to consumable data can help inform critical decisions and actions that help navigate through this crisis. We’re seeing hundreds of customers — healthcare organizations, grocers, national retailers, logistics firms and many others — combine the underlying data sets with their own operational data to help them respond more quickly to the changing environment.”
Updated every 10 minutes, the tracker aggregates and cross-checks data from sources including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), Johns Hopkins University, Worldometer and Enigma.
WPI turns to 3D printing to create ventilators
Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. are developing designs that could be used with 3D printers to create ventilators from readily available manual, handheld, bag valve mask (BVM) resuscitators.
“The WPI researchers are going to make designs of multiple devices and their components publicly available so anyone with a 3D printer and a background in electronics and mechanical engineering could use them to produce ventilators for their local hospitals,” according to WPI’s Sharon Gaudin. “A manufacturing company also could use the designs to produce ventilators quickly and at scale.”
“We’re taking things that are used every day in emergency medicine and finding a way to turn them into safe, reliable, and readily replicable ventilators that can save patients’ lives. And we’re sharing those designs with the world,” said Gregory Fischer, professor of robotics engineering and mechanical engineering and director of the PracticePoint Medical Cyber-Physcial Systems R&D Center.
The ventilators built from the WPI designs are meant to be used for more stable patients so commercial ventilators with more advanced sensing and control can be saved for critical patients hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Google Cloud offers COVID-19 Public Datasets
Google on Tuesday unveiled a COVID-19 Public Datasets program designed “to make data more accessible to researchers, data scientists and analysts,” the company said. “The program will host a repository of public datasets that relate to the COVID-19 crisis and make them free to access and analyze. These include the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (JHU CSSE) dataset, Global Health Data from the World Bank, and OpenStreetMap data.
“As with all data in the Google Cloud Public Datasets Program, Google pays for storage of datasets in the program. BigQuery also provides free queries over certain COVID-related datasets to support the response to COVID-19. Queries on COVID datasets will not count against the BigQuery sandbox free tier, where you can query up to 1TB free each month.”
In terms of limits and duration, the company pledged that the datasets will remain free until Sept. 15, and said queries of COVID data are free. But if “you join COVID datasets with non-COVID datasets, the bytes processed in the non-COVID datasets will be counted against the free tier, then charged accordingly to prevent abuse.
The datasets will be updated daily.
DigitalOcean offers developer cloud assets
For nonprofit groups working against the COVID-19 pandemic, DigitalOcean is offering $100,000 in infrastructure credits for new projects and up to $50,000 in cash donations to the company’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. (The company gives $100 for each proposed project that meets DigitalOcean requirements.)
The kinds of efforts it’s backing include:
. Applications or online resources designed to educate, coordinate help, or track the virus;
. Hackathons or virtual challenges related to the pandemic;
. Tools that teach others and enable and support online education;
. And projects that help SMBs affected by the coronavirus.
“Our community is full of innovators and technologists who are leveraging their skills to create tools, resources, and events with missions focused on the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said on its website. “As always, we’re inspired by our community … and we’re committed to helping bring your impactful ideas to life.”
Kaleyra: Free text messaging for the Italian Red Cross
Cloud-based communications firm Kaleyra is supporting the Italian Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana, CRI) with a free text-message service for volunteers and citizens dealing with the spread of COVID-19. By texting 4353535, the CRI can recruit health workers in affected areas, manage questions from citizens, and communicate quickly with volunteers, Kaleyra said. The toll-free number can be reached by all local operators to help direct essential medical services through text messages.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has forced all of us to change our habits — the way we travel, the way we live, and the way we work,” the company said in a March 26 blog post. “Work from home has become the new norm. Like many other businesses, we, too, are working remotely. We are doing our best to equip our employees and other stakeholders to work remotely as far as possible. Work from home however, does not mean the end of teamwork or business….”
The service for the CRI has seen more than 7,500 text messages since it went into operation in mid-March.
Ping: Free single sign-on, MFA for remote workers
Ping Identity, which provides cloud-based sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) security options, is offering six month of its services for free to new customers for unlimited apps and identities, or six months of free MFA for existing customers. The move comes in response to the rush by companies to have their employees work from home as the COVID-19 outbreak worsens worldwide.
“People around the world are being encouraged or required to work from home to stay healthy and do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the company said on its website. “We want to do our part to help…. That’s why we’re providing enterprises with fast, free SSO and MFA for unlimited applications.”
According to Ping, customers who use its service get:
One-click access to all of their SaaS applications;
Strong authentication for VPN connections;
And increased productivity and security for at-home workers.
Ping provides identity security services to a wide variety of companies across numerous industries, including HP, Netflix, Chevron, Intuit and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, among others.