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Searching for Social Impact? There’s No Better Time to Get Involved

As we observe the world around us, one that has changed dramatically in the age of COVID-19, it’s clear it will take all of us to get involved in order to get through this global crisis as quickly and safely as possible. We’ve been introduced to this idea of collective collaboration seemingly overnight through our personal schedules and social lives changing, but it’s true for our professional reality as well.

While social distancing is at the root of the cooperation we are demonstrating in our personal lives, the shared contributions we can make on the professional side are as impactful. Some of this we can all be doing (and already are), by working from home as much as feasible for our respective lines of work. On another level, it’s getting involved and finding ways to apply our skills, effort and experience with a socially impactful company. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work in such a company, or had the desire/plan to do so at some point in your career, there might not be a more powerful time in our lives .

While social impact can take many forms, here are some of the current applications of technology that can help us as a society get through, and recover from, our current public health and economic crisis. Each of these sub-verticals has several companies under its umbrella, providing ample opportunity to get involved.

Telemedicine

Telemedicine, telehealth or remote clinical services, has been in development for a few years now. Initially aimed at bridging the gap in care due to things such as lack of patient mobility, decreased provider funding / staffing and related issues, telemedicine can now be used to save lives. During the pandemic, these applications help people consult with their doctors on any symptoms they fear may be COVID-19 related and determine the safest course of action to find testing or treatment. Additionally, these applications will help individuals seeking out non-COVID related care to do so from the safety of their own homes, and practice social distancing while doing so.

Conversational Artificial Intelligence

Social distancing tells us we should be canceling our restaurant reservations, sports leagues and play dates. Many of us have other items that must get done in person, though, be it filing legal documents, banking transactions, filling prescriptions and more. Conversational AI companies have built advanced systems that automate the communication needed to complete many of these transactions virtually from the safety of our homes.

3D Printing

We’ve entered an age where some of our country’s largest companies are shifting their production lines to create goods that are needed to serve our public health. What about companies already positioned to do so? Several 3D printing companies are putting their technology to work by creating additional personal protective equipment that our health care professionals need on the front line, as well as test swabs to address emergency COVID-19 shortages.

Social medicine

If you’ve checked your 401(k) recently, you were likely startled by the significant and sudden financial ramifications as a byproduct of the public health measures being taken to slow the spread of this virus. The economic well-being of our country is not the only collateral damage to our social distancing measures, however. On any given day there are thousands of support groups that meet to provide the power of community and shared experience to help individuals affected by substance abuse, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, grief counseling and more. As our new societal landscape has taught us, finding ways to apply technology towards building important digital communities that can provide this type of support is essential.

EdTech

For parents living in parts of the country under stay-at-home orders, there is a renewed appreciation for the work teachers do in support of our children’s educations. We are realizing out of necessity the wealth of technology-enabled solutions available that help our kids stay engaged and on-track with their learning, even if being in the classroom isn’t possible. Taking the longer view, once we do get our children back into schools there is an even greater need for such applications, as this generation will need to supplement their in-class lessons in order to make up for lost time.

From Facebook to Amazon to Uber, technology companies have changed our everyday lives and given us far-reaching communities. Although the current economic conditions have impacted countless companies and workers, it has also presented opportunities to explore new roles and get involved with technology companies who will set the course for helping society, evolving clinical solutions and improving lives.

Photo credit: Austin Chan for Unsplash

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