BigFive Companies Innovating Around Coronavirus

South Africa companies in the BigFive orbit have been applying their resources and technological expertise to develop solutions to help combat the coronavirus.

Telkom Group, for example, has developed a track and trace system to help monitor infected persons and make it easier for health authorities to do the contract tracing essential to virus mitigation efforts.

“At Telkom, we are deeply concerned about what the spread of this pandemic may mean for ordinary South Africans and for the already overstretched health sector. We are privileged to be able to contribute to this solution which we believe will help to significantly contain the spread of new infections,” said Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko, in a statement.

Telkom says it has worked with the Committee for Scientific and Industrial Research and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases to develop the process, which is compliant with World health organization standards.

WhatsApp Bot Funnels Global COVID Information

Those attending the inaugural BigFive Summit last May will recall Gustav Prakelt, head of Praekelt Consulting. His thoughtful presentation on the potential for relatively simple technologies like messaging apps to empower SMMEs was an event highlight.

Gustav is contributing to the COVID-19 effort trough his foundation Praekelt.org, which has developed a WhatsApp bot that helps Africans gain access to fast and reliable COVID-19 information. This is of added importance when considering information hotlines are often overwhelmed.

“We were worried that our users wouldn’t have access to a trusted source of information,” Praekelt told Voice of America. “So people hear rumors and they hear stories, and people get panicky and worried about what they should do, to keep themselves healthy, especially as all the lockdowns started happening.”

The COVID-19 Health Alert had attracted 3.5 million users within its first 10 days. Praekelt is working on a global version of the bot.

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