The fight against coronavirus continues, and with lockdown becoming the new normal across the world, the everyday way of life has been totally transformed within the space of a few weeks.
The challenges that are brought about by operating within a lockdown and self isolation are numerous. Existing issues such as loneliness, social care and mental health become more pronounced, and small things like getting fresh groceries become more of a challenge. It has significantly altered the way communities and consumers behave. Those who aren’t key workers concentrate on staying inside, while nurses, doctors, supermarket workers and delivery drivers are working on the front line, keeping things running for the rest of us.
But how has tech played a part? Some tech functions have been put on hold, like a lot of other things, but others have found themselves in the spotlight, for video conferencing, online events and home delivery.
Here, we take a look at how tech has influenced and assisted lockdown life.
Bringing people together
With people staying apart or completely isolating themselves being so critical to reducing the spread of coronavirus, staying in touch using tech has become even more important. With thousands of Facebook mutual aid and Whatsapp groups sprouting up, many of us are starting to feel more connected to people we had never spoken to prior to COVID-19. Zoom, initially intended as a professional tool has fast become something used socially by everyone from retirees to teenagers, from pub quizzes to at-home tutorials. Delivery services like Bloom & Wild and Patch Plants have become a way for people to cheer each other up, delivering a bit of natural beauty to those who might not have any access to outside space.
Upscale 5.0 cohort member Peanut is an app that connects women who want to talk about motherhood and fertility. It has found itself a particularly vital lifeline at this time, providing a place for women to feel less alone. Single mothers have been particularly affected, forced to stay inside and deprived of their regular networks of support, like childcare, parent and baby groups, family members, friends. Those who are unable to take a break from parenting are finding apps that connect them with people in the same situation. They are bringing a special level of support and connectedness.
“It’s incredible to see the groups being formed on Peanut, including a Wish List group for people who are struggling financially. Users have put together an Amazon wish list, and people are contributing to it, to purchase for other Peanut users – simple things like baby grows or formula. We’ve also seen support groups for women who are suffering from things like cancelled adoptions and IVF. It’s an incredible show of humanity” – Michelle Kennedy, CEO and Co-Founder, Peanut
With most of the country now staying in, and eating the vast majority of meals at home, the way we shop for groceries looks like it may have been altered for good. While the usual supermarkets continue to be a major destination for most things, local providers for things like fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and milk have become overrun with orders from the community, with word spreading through local facebook groups and chats. People are even more inclined to shop local.
Deliveries particularly have become more important than ever, with many people unable or unwilling to leave the house at all. Services like Oddbox (Upscale 5.0 cohort member) are delivering fruit and vegetables that might otherwise have gone to waste, and have the potential to redistribute food supply chains that might have originally been destined for restaurants.
“Oddbox has a longterm partnership with two charities – City Harvest (since day 1!) and The Felix Project – to which we donate food to be redistributed to those who need it the most. During this difficult time, we are proud to continue supporting them. Supporting our community, especially those most at risk and those dedicating their time to help others, is a huge priority for us and we want to help however we can. For those who identify as vulnerable person elderly and NHS workers, we have a priority list in place whenever we close the website to new orders.” – Emilie Vanpoperinghe, Co-founder, Oddbox
Apps like OLIO are also providing important tech during this time, helping neighbours, communities, businesses and volunteers to distribute and allocate much needed food and supplies. Aimed at eliminating household and business food waste, the app is now allowing those within their communities to share and request specific items that might be of need.
Learning as we go
With family life turned on its head and, in many cases, work, home education and childcare expected to run simultaneously, families with kids of school age have had to make massive adjustments to their way of life.
Future Fifty 8.0 cohort member Twinkl, who provide vital educational materials to teachers and home educators have created a specific school closure hub, which has been introduced entirely free for those who need it.
Koru Kids is a tech company and Upscale 4.0 alumni who are tackling the issue of childcare during school closures. With many parents expected to work full time from home, many still have essential childcare needs despite the lockdown. Koru Kids allows parents to source and connect with local nannies on a short-term, emergency basis, who can plan educational activities and supervise home learning, potentially taking a massive amount of pressure and stress from an already incredibly difficult time. They have special guidance and advice for using the service during lockdown.
For more information and useful links relating to tech and coronavirus, check out our coronavirus information hub and our other blogs on the subject.