How many of you have been alarmed by the lack of coronavirus testing kits in the US? An article published by CNBC on March 23 called, “How volunteers from tech companies like Amazon, Apple and Google built a coronavirus-tracking site in six days” written by Christina Farr is about a startup website that tracks where the corona virus is located in the US. This website, called covidnearyou.com, was created by Prem Ramaswami, who is a prominent employee at the company, Alphabet. The website tracks where the virus is possibly located throughout the US and where people may be experiencing symptoms. The article states how Ramaswami thought to create this website when his wife was experiencing symptoms of the virus and the doctor was unable to administer a COVID-19 test to her. Ramaswami contacted a friend of his, John Brownsetin, who has worked on public health projects for Google and headed the Google Flu Project, which tracked the spread of a flu in previous years. Ramaswami is obviously not a licensed health professional, but he states how this website was created to help medical professionals.
Additionally, the article states how he worked with people from Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet in making the website, which allows people to enter their symptoms if they’re feeling sick, or if they have traveled, or been in contact with anyone with the virus. As of March 23rd, 10,000 people entered their symptoms on the website and this information is to be shared with health groups. This is an important job done by Ramaswami and his team because it will help guide health care professionals to people who have possibly been affected.
This shows global corporate citizenship in the consumer electronics industry in a few ways. Ramaswami himself is the head of sales at Alphabet which owns Google and he leveraged his connections to work with another electronics company, Apple and Amazon to create this website. This relates to corporate power because members of these big companies are using their power to positively affect society based on their organizational resources. When not everyone can get tested with a kit, this at least documents where people can be experiencing symptoms. Members of these corporations have the resources to make a tracking website with an experienced health professional, and this is serving the public interest. Furthermore, this is an example of the fueling of technological growth because in a pandemic such as this, members of these companies have invested their personal time and connections in making this website. It shows that these companies can be a positive force on technology in times like this to fuel innovation that can help save people’s lives.
Lastly, I think that it is smart that Ramaswami made a website to track the virus. There are so many articles and so much information about the virus that having its location on one website is helpful. This would also particularly help the elderly and health professionals know exactly where in the US the virus specifically could be. Because there are not enough testing kits, this definitely keeps the public safer and pinpoints exactly where the virus could be.
Keval Sojitara. March 25, 2020.
Article Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/23/coronavirus-tracking-site-built-by-amazon-apple-google-volunteers.html
Link to Ramaswami’s website: https://covidnearyou.org/#!/