May 8, 2020 - Health

Tech firms help local governments meet coronavirus testing needs

Covid-19 testing instructions on a website.
Photo: Adobe

As more and more cities look to automate the coronavirus testing process, tech companies are working together to ensure that people can use an app or website to schedule tests instead of waiting in a potentially dangerous line.

Why it matters: Many testing locations remain overwhelmed by demand, but some are still underused. More efficient coordination could help make better use of the resources we have.

Driving the news: In Tarrant County, Texas, Adobe, Oracle, Accenture and Splunk (along with some smaller firms) teamed up to help people determine whether they are eligible and then find a testing site and schedule a time.

The big picture: There is a huge need for tech help at all levels of government, as evidenced by these efforts as well as other projects, such as the volunteer-led U.S. Digital Response.

"We all need the government to work and now that means digitally," Adobe general counsel Dana Rao told Axios, adding that digital literacy was not a typical strength of governments even before the pandemic.

Yes, but: Tech partnerships don't guarantee broader coordination, either among the companies themselves or the many municipalities that are all trying to set up similar programs.

  • In many cases, a local government ends up working with whichever tech companies it happens to have a relationship with.
  • "I wouldn't say it's very coordinated right now," Rao said.

What's next: Now that the partners have rolled out their system in Tarrant County, they hope to offer it to other state and local governments.

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