Tech Community in Helping the World Fight the Pandemic

“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert G. Ingersoll

It’s been more than a year since COVID-19 completely changed the world and the ways humanity used to function. Although healthcare providers already started immunizing most of the nations, we are still in the middle of surviving the pandemic, not knowing how much damage control we will have to do in order to fix the long term effects it caused, not only on our mental state but the worldwide economy as well.

$140 million people lost their jobs in 2020. $3.7 trillion were lost in labor income. Although many people returned to their original jobs, the International Labor Organization estimated that the global working hours we used to cover before the pandemic will not be back to the original state before 2022.

As for the global tech scene, a lot of companies around the world pledged their help, by providing resources to help with the immunization, as well as information to the public about the ways to prevent the spreading of the virus, or by various donations. Many of them helped by making an official statement that people will still have their jobs to get back to after social distancing.

Tech’s mission lies in the ability to supply products and services which will change humankind for the better. Its true greatness lies in giving back to the community, by providing tech innovations to people in need, donating to charities, organizing fundraisers, and volunteering to paramount causes.

Before we dive into how some of the biggest tech names in the industry helped during the pandemic, we first must mention the amazing unity between Microsoft, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Google, YouTube, and Twitter, where they joined forces in eliminating the false claims and information across their apps and provide the public with accurate facts and news on COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft

Although known for many support cases and donations throughout history, Microsoft has done an incredible job helping the community during the pandemic. They were the first to state that all the workers on their campus, including the ones taking care of their facilities, as well as people working in their cafes, shuttle drivers, and many others being their on-site tech and audio-visual help supporters, will continue receiving regular wages although the need for their services is significantly reduced due to working from home.

There is also Tech for Social Impact they launched more than three years ago via Microsoft Philanthropies, in order to provide world-class cloud technology accessible and affordable for nonprofits for driving even greater influence. With the outbreak of the pandemic, Microsoft stepped up its game in providing more of these cloud services to the nonprofit sector on the frontline of COVID-19.

Microsoft’s associates from brick and mortar stores helped significantly by virtually training 65,000 people to use Microsoft Teams in government, health care, education, and finance. This idea emerged from the customers themselves, wanting to transform their remote work environments with Microsoft’s collaboration tool.

Another amazing thing is their partnership with the biggest crowdfunding platform GoFundMe through Bing, a search engine owned and operated by Microsoft, in order to help affected small businesses raise financial support and survive the pandemic.

I can argue that the biggest impact Microsoft has had against COVID-19 is its support to healthcare providers around the world by providing Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot, powered by Microsoft Azure. This service uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology that creates bots in which data is owned and accessible only by the healthcare organization. Its sole purpose is to respond quickly to inquiries and make doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals provide care to patients in need.

Note 1: Check the article by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, to learn more about how Microsoft’s been coping with the pandemic as well as their giving back to the community.

Note 2: Check the article by Mark Suzman, CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to see the contribution of the Gates family in fighting COVID-19.

Facebook

Facebook pledged to promote and elevate authoritative and accurate information about the pandemic through all platforms in its ownership, such as Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Facebook itself. One of their major milestones is helping the global community by suppressing the misinformation and false facts shared via these platforms. This resulted in Facebook investing $100 million in the news industry, supporting fact-checkers, as well as banning deceitful tactics in ads across its app. 

Facebook showed its support for health and economic relief efforts by donating $20 million, as well as $25 million to support healthcare workers on the front line. They also helped small businesses by donating $100 million, and they pledged to provide free ads for global healthcare organizations. 

They also made it easier for people to be connected by elevating ways in which all of us can ask for help, or offer help to those in need. They also helped local governments and emergency health organizations reach people via Facebook and Messenger and offered Workplace Advanced to government agencies and emergency services free of charge for a whole year.

What I found truly compelling is how they paid attention to just how sharing well-being tips is important during these chaotic times. In the Coronavirus Information Center on Facebook, people can find many shared well-being tips, as well as resources from the World Health Organization on the ways to stay active, how to reduce stress, establish new goals and routines, and take care of ourselves during lockdowns, social distancing and working from home. They are also connecting people to their local crisis hotlines. 

Amazon

Whilst all of us relied on Amazon for supplies during the lockdown, they have offered 100k new jobs to support the increase of inquiries and deliveries, as well as to provide incomes to families that have been most affected by the pandemic. They also increased the salary of all hourly paid employees, adding $2 to their hourly pay of $15 per hour. They provided more than $2.5 billion in bonuses and incentives, for all Amazon employees around the world. 

Amazon also established a $25 million relief fund for partners, such as delivery drivers, and seasonal associates facing financial losses or quarantine.

Amazon set a great example by offering to help vaccinate thousands of people through pop-up clinics in the states of Florida and Washington. They’re also supporting U.S. president Joe Biden’s administration to vaccinate 100 million people in the first 100 days of his presidency. 

Apple

In March 2020, when COVID-19 was proclaimed a global pandemic, Apple committed donations to the global COVID-19 response by donating $15 million.

Not only that – they have donated 10 million masks to the healthcare community across the United States! Just like Microsoft, they are continuing to pay all its hourly workers even though they’re unavailable to go to work.

Google

Google pledged $800 million to COVID-19 relief and support efforts by donating $250 million in google ads and credits to the World Health Organization and other healthcare organizations to ease the expanded delivery of critical information on how to prevent the spread of the pandemic. They assured $200 million towards a new support program for non-governmental organizations and financial institutions around the world, in order to provide additional assistance for small and medium business solutions.

Google also announced they will provide $340 million in Google Ads credits to be available to all small and medium businesses who’ve had an active Google Ads account in 2019, a year prior to the pandemic. They also donated $20 million in Google Cloud credits for academic institutions and researchers to help them use Google’s services and infrastructure, “as they study potential therapies and vaccines, track critical data, and identify new ways to combat COVID-19.”

How can smaller tech companies give back to the community?

We are proud of the tech community and many companies which showed their unconditional support and help over the years. Never mind if you’re in the tech industry or not, or if you’re a small business or a member of the Fortune 500 – all of us can help. And there are various ways:

Organize charities and fundraisers through different tournaments and fun events!
Donate your time to volunteer – if you’re an entrepreneur, a great example is giving your employees some time off to volunteer to support different causes!
Offer your products and services for free
Organize different programs to teach the community about the industry you’re involved in, as well as help them upgrade their own skills!
Involve and invite the community in helping those in need
Educate yourself, your colleagues, and your community about how important it is to give back to the community

“A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal”. – Steve Maraboli

Let’s all make an impact. Let’s donate our time and energy to volunteer, participate in charities and fundraisers, help our neighbors, elder ones, and kids in need through random acts of goodwill, let’s stop polluting by recycling our plastic and planting more trees in our neighborhoods.

Let’s all make a difference because we can and because it is not hard to do so. 🙂

Tatjana Lukic, Project Assistant at Bridgewater Labs

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