Presented by Capitec

How tech is winning the fight against COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live. It was inevitable. You can’t put an estimated 20% of the global population under lockdown and not expect to see a significant change in how people live, work and interact. But the pandemic also made many of the world’s smartest thinkers turn to tech to find solutions to the crisis.

“We’ve seen the tech community come together in a remarkable way to fight COVID-19,” said Tumi Sineke, head of the OfferZen Foundation and a mentor at Capitec’s Life 2.0 Hackathon. “OfferZen was given official mandate from the South African government to mobilise the tech community to work on critical projects. This was all coordinated using the Unlockdown portal, where people from a variety of industries came together to work on projects like the COVID-19 Vulnerability Map and an MVP tool to map the economic impact of COVID.”

Capitec’s upcoming hackathon will explore similar possibilities, with this year’s virtual event running from 22 June to 10 July 2020 under the theme Life 2.O – Developing Solutions for a Post-COVID-19 World.

How tech connects us

A recent World Economic Forum Insight Report noted that, “Fighting the virus together requires cooperation on three things: research and knowledge (working together to understand and beat the virus); maintaining global supply (trade ensuring efficient global supply of necessary materials); and warning of future outbreaks. This might sound easy. It is very difficult.”

Difficult, but not impossible. The tech-based connectivity that we enjoy today may just give us the tools we need to fight this global pandemic.

Meanwhile, many of the people stuck in lockdown have enjoyed the relief of streaming entertainment, and of connecting loved ones via video conferencing. Virtual meeting app Zoom went from being the 274th most visited site on the global Internet in early March to being 21st worldwide in early June. By then it was already the 9th most visited site in South Africa, behind, perhaps inevitably, the likes of Netflix (5th) and YouTube (2nd).

“The ability for so many people to work remotely at the drop of a hat really assisted the fight against COVID,” said Capitec Hackathon mentor Charl Greeff, who’s also Head Of Engineering at OneDayOnly.

Capitec Life 2.0 Hackathon

Anything is possible – and, as the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated, today’s Little Big Idea could become tomorrow’s everyday, life-saving reality. But what will the “new normal” look like? That’s a question the teams participating in the Capitec Hackathon will aim to answer as they explore new solutions to 2020’s unique challenges.

“I’m excited to see how we can come up with wonderful ideas that will make the ‘new normal’ seem like a better place than the world we had before COVID-19,” said Greeff.

Capitec’s Hackathon is open to all innovators: to anybody who believes they can harness an idea to create a better South Africa, during and after this pandemic.

This article was published in partnership with Capitec.

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How tech is winning the fight against COVID-19