How Canada Is Fighting COVID-19 One Line Of Code At A Time

Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

It is 2020 and technology is everywhere! Technology helps people in every aspect of their lives from enabling busy citizens to pre-order groceries on an app, to predicting medical illnesses with AI. And during this COVID-19 pandemic, technology continues to help communities by focusing on helping citizens in three key dimensions.

  • Safety
  • Happiness
  • Health

The people that create and maintain these tech initiatives are kind, caring, and hardworking members of the tech community. And it is thrilling to see so many Canadian tech initiatives helping the community during COVID-19! Some are simple and others are incredibly advanced and forward-thinking; but, all the initiatives are:

  • Effective
  • Innovative
  • Helping others

To lift your spirit during this challenging time, take a look at the tech initiatives that Canadians have worked hard to create in hopes of contributing to tackling this COVID-19 outbreak one line of code at a time.

This Ottawa-based initiative was established to strengthen communities. The founders, Lauren McGuire, Marko Arezina, Kristina Arezina, and Allie Cui, believed that it is time to recreate what being a community looks like in 2020, especially during this difficult time.

“People in a community want to help with volunteer efforts, but can not find an existing initiative they would like to allocate their time or resources to”

Community Helpers provides a quick and easy solution to help people give assistance and get assistance for COVID-19 in their domain of choosing and vicinity. The project uses a simple, and yet effective, method of streamlining the volunteering process. Due to the simplicity of the platform the team was able to prototype and launch the service quickly and create a network of volunteers in 10+ cities helping those in need due to COVID-19.

Think Research is an Ontario based organization whose mission is to organize the world’s health knowledge so that everyone gets the best care. Their team of physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners consolidate the latest evidence-based research for COVID-19 into actionable insights. Then Think Research’s developers make this available to frontline care providers via solutions that seamlessly integrate into existing clinical workflows.

Their healthcare technology allows clinicians to focus their energy on providing high-quality care for COVID-19 and what matters most — improving patient outcomes.

Initially iMerciv developed MapinHood as a navigation app for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. MapinHood’s technology is based on machine learning, crowdsourced information, and open-source data. iMerciv quickly released that its AI-powered app can help people social distance when they go for walks outside and created Social Distancing Mode. This feature uses historic pedestrian foot traffic data and advises users to avoid busy streets.

Headquartered in Toronto, MindBeacon delivers proven mental therapies to its clients via online platforms. The company immediately recognized that the stress of the COVID-19 crisis is taking a toll on the health of friends, families, employers, employees, and businesses. They knew that during this difficult time people needed to take care of themselves physically and mentally to stay healthy and productive. So, the company launched a special COVID-19 support service, Stronger Minds, with Manulife and Green Shield Canada. The Stronger Minds platform provides users guidance from MindBeacon’s team of clinical psychologists that provide online resources such as:

  • Q&A videos
  • Quick reads
  • Resilience-building exercises

The company has also partnered with the Government of Ontario, providing free online therapy to anyone in need.

BlueDot, based in Toronto, spotted COVID-19 developing, nine days before the World Health Organization released its statement regarding the novel coronavirus. BlueDot is a proprietary software-as-a-service designed to track, locate, and conceptualize infectious disease spread. It creates summaries of unusual disease outbreaks that its AI has discovered and predicts the risks they may pose — to health care, government, business, and public health clients.

BlueDot is powered by big data. It uses natural language processing and machine learning to collect data from 100,000+ sources, including statements from official public health organizations, digital media, global airline ticketing data, livestock health reports, and population demographics. It’s software process tons of information every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day.

Once BlueDot detects an infectious disease they work to understand how it might disperse to different parts of the world, and then determine the potential consequences of it spreading.

In the case of COVID-19, in addition to sending out an alert, BlueDot was also able to correctly identify the cities that were highly connected to Wuhan using things like global airline ticketing data to help anticipate where the infected might be traveling. Its models are so effective that 11 of the cities at the top of their list were the first places to receive COVID-19 cases.

Clearly, the Canadian tech community is embodying what it means to be Canadian! With their kindness, leadership, and knowledge our communities are a better place one line of code at a time.

I am passionate about health and technology especially when the two are used together to help others.

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