As Crisis Fuels Innovation, Technology Can Help


CEO of Salesforce.org, the social impact team at Salesforce committed to providing technology for nonprofits and education institutions. 

Crises like the one we are in today serve as an acute reminder of how connected we all are: United in suffering and in coming together to fight against this outbreak.

On a daily basis, we are witnessing how crisis fuels innovation. People are collaborating across sectors and borders to address the world’s most pressing needs through technology. We are seeing leaders in nonprofit, education, government, technology and health care come together to create and share effective and relevant tools.

As CEO of Salesforce.org, I am struck by the inspiring surge of community-led innovation — technology and tools to tackle the world’s challenges that are built for, by and with the community. Innovative technologies are connecting employees working from home in new ways, reimagining how teachers and parents educate and helping hospitals track and deploy critical resources.

Here are exciting examples of communities, thinkers, innovators and problem-solvers using technology for good.

Tracking Health Care Needs In Real Time

Recognizing that the health care facilities need real-time information to track available resources that match increasing capacity demands, new innovations rose to the challenge of tracking health care needs. Traction on Demand and Thrive Health developed Traction Thrive Critical Resource Care Management, an open-source, free mobile solution “to help view, track and allocate critical health care personnel, personal protective equipment and ventilator availability in real-time.” The app is designed to help users better understand the impact of the COVID-19 virus at a hyper-local level. 

Johns Hopkins University experts wanted to make coronavirus data accessible, so everyone from policymakers to the general public can get timely, accurate information. It’s popular: The near-real-time map gets a billion views per day. John Hopkins’s data map is a great example of where data and technology can help spread factual and real-time information. 

Help Employees, Help Communities

Employees across the world are working from home, united in their day-to-day challenges and their desire to help affected communities. 

As we all tackle how to return to the workplace safely, technology innovation continues with contact tracing apps. Some governments are leveraging automated contact tracing innovations, and some states, like North and South Dakota and Utah, are using technology that relies on anonymized GPS data. Countries, like Singapore, the U.K., Germany and France, are also exploring other ways to use technology to fight the pandemic. In March, Singapore released TraceTogether, an app that uses Bluetooth technology to help public health officials do contact tracing. 

Continue Learning From Anywhere 

One of the biggest challenges recognized by institutions was quickly shifting to a virtual-friendly curriculum.

Similarly, myTrailhead, a free learning experience platform from my company, is empowering health care organizations to quickly distribute the latest safety and testing protocols to train staff and ensure they are certified. Sharing best practices, learning from each other and swapping playbooks are all part of what makes innovation tick in these moments that matter.

With graduation season, technology made sure we didn’t miss out on life’s moments. Purdue University students could graduate virtually, and other tech tools helped students celebrate safely online. Teens were even socializing in Minecraft and could set up a virtual graduation across multiple colleges in Minecraft. 

Our Collective Global Response

It’s been inspiring to see how communities around the world are collaborating, innovating and disrupting together through a time of crisis. These are just a few examples of the many new tools that are helping us plan our day-to-day fight against COVID-19. As communities continue to come together to leverage the power of technology for good, we’ll see new ideas and new innovation take shape that can have a lasting impact on our world.


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