It’s not a good time for those of us who love a stimulating office chat, or a boisterous work environment. Now that handshakes are a faux pas, teams are split across the city and classrooms are no longer a safe place to learn, what do business, learning and healthcare look like?

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital uptake across industries and around the world. We look at what this can mean for the way we work and learn.

Here are three ways AI and the cloud can minimise disruption to businesses, help students continue learning at home, and ease the burden on healthcare systems.

1. Helping businesses cope, especially for SMEs

Many organisations have stepped up their measures against the spread of Covid-19, with daily temperature checks, visitor logs and work-from-home arrangements. Huawei has built a website with Singaporean company 7-Network to help businesses cope with the additional steps they have to take to guard against the coronavirus.

This tool is designed for SMEs in particular. “Small business owners are short of ready-to-use digital tools to address employee management issues or other unique workflow needs. Some digital solutions in the market are either too complicated, or not customized for SMEs,” said Jin Chong, Managing Director of 7-Network.

This website, JET Workflow, provides ready-to-use contact tracing forms, as well as a system for monitoring employee’s temperatures and sick leaves. Supervisors can also use this platform to manage the workflow between employees who are working from home. The entire system is made simple, so businesses don’t need a dedicated IT team to run it.

This tool enables SMEs to take precautions against the virus without hitting pause on usual operations. SMEs in Singapore can now trial this tool for free till September, 2020.

2. Online education

Schools around the world are sending their students home in the face of the coronavirus. E-lessons are now the only way for students to continue learning, and schools have had to adapt quickly. Teachers have had to contend with security issues in commercially available products like Zoom, which Singapore’s Ministry of Education has investigated.

Singapore-based learning technology company, ULearning, has partnered with Huawei Cloud to offer a secure online learning platform to support students, said Christina Ng, co-founder and General Manager of ULearning International. Schools can continue teaching and businesses can continue training amidst the outbreak.

The platform offers advanced livestreaming with learning tracking and analytics, so educators can keep tabs on students’ progress. Teachers, students and administrators can easily create free accounts on this platform to access the school’s resources on their device at home, thanks to Huawei’s cloud service. This tool will serve to “empower school operators and students, keeping the doors of learning open even through hard times,” said Nicholas Ma, CEO of Huawei International.

ULearning’s tool is also equipped with facial recognition, so it automatically tracks attendance for lessons and examinations. Users can even visit a virtual recreation of the campus if they miss roaming around school grounds.

One university in Indonesia has reported more effective discussion-based learning after using the online learning platform. “E-learning has stimulated the creativity of both lecturers and students, improved administrative processes and encouraged students to participate more,” said Dr Mahmudin Sudin, Vice-Rector at Universitas Muhammadiyah Jakarta, Indonesia.

ULearning is offering a free trial of its platform to schools. Tools like these are crucial in ensuring that the pandemic “promotes innovation and inclusion and does not exacerbate learning inequalities,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. The agency has pulled together a list of online platforms to help students continue learning at home.

3. Easing the load on healthcare systems

The Covid-19 pandemic is formidable not least because it overwhelms hospitals and cuts off other patients from medical attention. Doctors are facing pressures to work harder and faster than ever. How can healthcare systems cope with the immense burden brought on by the coronavirus and ensure doctors’ time is maximised?

A hospital in the Philippines is using Huawei’s AI tech to analyse CT scan images, making coronavirus diagnosis six times faster. Baguio General Hospital, one of the first five hospitals designated to hold Covid-19 patients in the country, set up this system in two days. A hospital in Ecuador is using the same system to help doctors diagnose more efficiently.

AI also yields faster results in screening tests. “Unlike the current screening test kits which would take four to five days, the AI system only takes 2 minutes,” said Benjie Magalong, the Mayor of Baguio city.

On top of making diagnosis and test kits more efficient, this system, powered by Huawei Cloud, can help in developing vaccines. Doctors can use computer simulations to screen drugs and test if they may be effective against the coronavirus. What would usually take hours can instead be shortened to just ten minutes on the cloud.

Tough times lie ahead, and organisations will have to find new ways of adapting. Perhaps tech can make that just a little bit easier.