April 8, 2020



Our lives have been transformed in just a few weeks…and while it is all consuming, there is much going on that is positive. From a geeky IT perspective we have been looking at how technology is being used to help fight the pandemic and there really is some amazing stuff happening out there.

Now China may be through the current worst, with Wuhan opening up again, it is an opportunity to reflect on their situation. In particular aside from the medical approach, they have actually leaned heavily on technology to get them through. This has and continues to include Artificial Intelligence (AI), data science including looking at forecasting outbreaks, identifying those infected, using chatbots to share information and even drones to deliver medical supplies, patrol public spaces and track breaches to the quarantine regulations.

While we may be a while behind our Chinese counterparts in terms of our journey through this pandemic, the path we are on in the UK is also driving significant changes to how we operate. And we should be rightly proud of what can and is being achieved as companies adopt practices to be more agile in how they work. Home working is currently the norm, for those that are fortunate still to be able to work. Tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Office 365 are being actively adopted by many. Companies are using this to engage with employees in ways previously thought unnecessary. This has extended to mass team briefings, virtual quiz nights and even fantasy beers after work on a Friday night now being more the norm. The nature of which means this new way of socialising has spilt over into our personal lives as more of us celebrate Birthdays, meet with friends we have not reached out to for ages or check in on parents and elderly relatives.

The most striking aspect of all of this is the agile way we have made this shift. Our increased awareness and access to what is available out there from a technology aspect means that we have become more receptive at adopting technology that we were previously unfamiliar with. Equally this is reflected in how IT, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and manufacturing is also shifting and clearly trying to reach out and help. Viable alternatives for essential kit are actively being sought. Unused production is moving to using 3D printed parts and CNC to create ventilators and protective equipment. Even alcohol companies are using their exact same distilling equipment to produce hand sanitizer. For certain, they never thought at the beginning of the year they would be doing that come April!

It is so good to see people coming together like never before to share ideas and help others achieve those ideas. What’s more, it is not just down to the manufacturers as even individuals are finding ways to turn their thoughts to helping. Take the Canadian boy scout who has made a genius device using a 3D printer to help medical staff working the frontlines be more comfortable when wear their protective masks for long periods of time. This simple and yet so effective device is making the lives of those that are at the forefront of the fight just that little bit easier. Plus, recognising the need he has shared the file to encourage others to produce the ear guards and distribute them locally to hospitals, medical practitioners and others that need them.
So while everything around us is in disarray, we should take heart from the positive things happening and also the lessons we are hopefully learning for the future. And looking at a local level recognise the many skills that are out there and what the potential could be if we put our heads together. What could we do?

Keep healthy…keep fit…and keep sane!

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