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Matthew Revell for Heroku

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Coding Against Covid

Somehow, staying at home doesn’t feel like it’s enough. It’s essential but there must be more.

Across the world, people have picked up the tools most familiar to them. It’s a natural instinct. We want to make a difference at a time of crisis.

Musicians have live streamed performances, comedians have self-filmed sketches, and developers have written code to help make sense of our situation.

People have put together tools to help improve our understanding of what has happened. Others have launched projects to fix a problem in our response to the pandemic. Then, there are crowd-sourced guides for those of us directly affected either by the virus or the fallout from lockdown.

Heroku’s role has been to carry on as normal, keeping apps running and data flowing. Some people who have built projects in response to Covid-19 have chosen Heroku to deploy their software. Here are three such projects. As you might expect, this isn’t an endorsement of any of them.

Measuring the impact of social distancing

Sat at home, it can be hard to see the impact of social distancing. A group from Element AI have put together a tool that helps put it in context.

The Corona Calculator visualizes recent infection and related data from countries across the world. Select your country from the drop-down and you can see what has happened so far.

Most interestingly, though, is the ability to see how social distancing might change future infection rates.

Corona Calculator

Using two sliders, you can adjust the number of people that the infected person might come into contact with each day. The predicted number of cases in your country changes accordingly. Putting it into unambiguously practical terms, the resultant peak number of hospitalizations is shown alongside the number of hospital beds in your country.

Getting PPE to health workers

Lack of personal protective equipment for health workers and others on the coronavirus frontline has been a problem in a number of countries. A group of volunteers came together in March to create a global effort to get face masks, and other protective equipment, to healthcare workers and first responders.

Masks for Heroes connects people who need face masks with people who are able to donate it. Requests for masks are tracked as dropped pins on a Google map, enabling donors to quickly find need in their local area.

How to live in a pandemic

The Coronavirus Tech Handbook is a crowd-sourced collection of resources for navigating life during the pandemic, originated by the London College of Political Technologists.

Each section of the guide focuses on the needs of a particular group, such as parents and guardians or software developers, offering a mix of original content and links to resources elsewhere on the web.

Anyone can get involved with editing the handbook, with each section having its own WhatsApp group to help coordinate work.

Making a contribution through code

How each of us reacts to this pandemic is, of course, personal. For some, it’s a time of reflection. For many it’s a period where life itself is uncertain. For those of us able to stay home and who are well, it’s a time where we might have newly free time along with an urge to do something.

Building software that helps make sense of the pandemic can be a constructive way to channel our focus and feel that we’ve contributed. I’d love to hear from other people who are building projects, big or small, related to the current situation.

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