As COVID-19 passes the 1,000,000 cases mark, the effects of the virus have been horrific and inescapable. Travel has been banned. Entire economies have been put on pause. Whole countries have gone into lockdown. In America alone, the number of unemployment claims rose by 3,000% in just a few days to a peak of 6.6 million claims. Closer to home, economists warn that South Africans should brace for job losses that could potentially surpass those seen during the last economic recession. But among all this, this disastrous period has revealed the importance of technology: not just of keeping us sane while we self-quarantine and pass these lockdown days, but in keeping us working and connected. Technology empowers businesses to function remotely; it keeps us connected to our loved ones, and it enables research into the spread and evolution of COVID-19 so that we are better equipped to fight it.
Online activity surges
As COVID-19 forces real-world activities to a standstill, internet use has skyrocketed. Forbes reports that total internet hits have surged between 50% and 70%, while streaming has also jumped by at least 12%. Telecom giant Verizon has reported voice usage increasing on its network by 25% in the space of a single week, and total web traffic up 22%. Similarly, Vodafone reported data traffic increases of 50% in some of its markets.
As internet use soars, traditional media is suffering a considerable decline. Technology research firm Omdia predicts nearly $11 billion in losses for the movie industry, alongside a 25% decline and a 15% drop in TV advertising.
Simply put, online technologies are filling in where traditional companies and brick-and-mortar establishments simply cannot. As Forbes noted,
The big winners will be the online companies, healthcare providers, supermarket chains—especially those with a robust online presence— pharmaceutical companies working on cures for diseases, technology companies and services, such as Zoom, that cater to people working from home.
It’s a simple fact: tech-focused jobs are becoming increasingly important in continuing the basic systems we’ve enjoyed for so long.
Technology and communities, coming together
It’s all too easy to get distracted by the fake news and online negativity as COVID-19 takes up more and more international headlines. But hidden behind the nonsense and clickbait are countless stories of people coming together with technology to help each other out in ways both big and small.
Businesses are converting their machinery to produce masks and other PPE. Factories have turned away from making perfumes and iPhones to manufacture hand sanitiser and masks. Alcohol distilleries and gin brewers are putting away the booze and instead crafting hand sanitiser.
That’s just on the business side; individuals across the world have also come together in a wonderful show of unity to fight COVID-19 and its far-reaching effects. People are refitting 3D-printers to produce protective gear for medical staff. Neighbours are working together online to buy groceries for at-risk individuals such as pensioners. Millions have come together in crowdfunding ventures to help those businesses and workers who would otherwise be totally doomed. Crowdfunding site GoFundMe reported on March 24 that over 35,000 coronavirus-related projects had been started with more than $60 million dollars raised to help those in need.
Technology helping win the war against COVID-19
Technology isn’t just keeping businesses remote and afloat. Aside from the power of applications like Zoom, cloud technologies, digital conferencing technology, and online storefronts, technology is also the primary means for mapping and combating the spread of coronavirus.
We wrote about this in our previous blog about HyperionDev’s origins and history in virology, computational biology, and the study of infectious diseases, but we’ll repeat it here: outside of wet labs, using data science and evolutionary mapping or models are the only ways to understand these illnesses and predict their growth and evolution.
Already there are innumerable applications and websites, made both internationally and locally, that are helping us to track, understand, and predict the growth and spread of COVID-19. What’s more, it’s helping us to create strategies to halt its spread, treat the infected, and ‘flatten the curve’. COVID-19 is a complex issue, but the efforts of programmers and data scientists across the world have shown us the power of programming know-how and technology in tackling seemingly insurmountable challenges.
It might be too early to say how COVID-19 will develop over the new few weeks and months, and what far-reaching ramifications it will have on our societies, financial systems, and ways of life. However, what’s abundantly clear, even just days into the national shutdown, is that technology – whether it’s used to fight disease, entertain bored people at home, or keep businesses functioning in difficult times – will play a fundamental role in the world when the shutdown ends.
Do you want to develop skills in data science to understand the frighteningly complex numbers coming out of COVID-19 news, or web development skills to make your own tracker, application, or public resources site? Perhaps you want to learn how to code so that you can get a job that keeps running, even when your physical offices have been shut down by exceptional circumstances? Right now is the time to learn how to code, and open up your career futures.
All of our bootcamps can all be taken online and part-time, so that you can learn even whenever and wherever you are. Sign up for your free trial in any one of our immersive coding bootcamps in Full Stack Web Development, Software Engineering or Data Science, and make your career quarantine-proof.