Vaccine Cold Chain. COVID-19 and the Tech Industry.
Corporate social responsibility has always played a relevant role in business, showing how much impact the joint efforts of larger and smaller companies can have on the world around us. In times of COVID-19 crisis, the discussion about the possibility of support from different sectors has intensified. Our opinion was clear from the beginning – we understand that contributing to society’s struggle against the pandemic is an obligation we all share. This view seemed to be intercommunicated by other companies – including tech giants setting trends in the IT world. So, how did it work in practice, how digital transformation helped us, and what have we managed to achieve?
The Social Responsibility of Big (and Smaller) Tech
The COVID-19 crisis highlighted the urgency of embracing digital
transformation in business and industry. For many companies, rapid digitalization was the only way to stay afloat and keep up with the ever-changing dynamics of the New Normal. That, in turn, showed us just how much responsibility the tech industry bears in an economy growing more and more dependent on technology.
This responsibility, however, does not pertain solely to the world of business. The pandemic affected almost every area of our lives. In many of them, technology helped soften the blow at least a little bit. It was invaluable in maintaining social relations and maintaining the continuity of remote education by boosting connectivity in the schooling system. It also played its part in the resolution (albeit partial) of the crisis — but more on that later.
In difficult times, all companies, whether big or small, are put to the test in terms of the values they proclaim.
They can uphold them and face possible losses – but without prejudice to the company’s image and culture. Another way, they can give in to the pressures of the crisis and risk losing the trust of their customers and stakeholders in the long term. It turns out, however, that the pandemic became an opportunity for many companies to prove that CSR is more than just a buzzword.
The Big Tech Response to Crisis
According to the company’s website, Apple’s donations to the global COVID-19 response reached USD 15 million worldwide. It was meant to help both the sick and those who suffer from the economic impact of the pandemic. In addition, Apple made sure that the hourly workers continued to receive pay even though many of them were unable to work during lockdowns.
Shortly after the first lockdown started, Honeywell informed the public
that they would expand the face mask production to support the U.S.
government’s COVID-19 response efforts. Millions of N95 disposable masks were sent to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and distributed among health and safety workers. Moreover, the addition of the new production line created 500 new jobs in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
As for other giants: Cisco committed USD 225 million in cash and products to the global COVID-19 response. Their main focus was ’supporting healthcare and education, government response, and critical technology’. Microsoft, in turn, committed to paying out-of-work hourly workers, and Google helped the public agencies to spread crucial information on COVID-19 through their products, such as Google Search, Maps, and YouTube.
The wide response of the tech sector to the COVID-19 crisis is certainly
symptomatic of the evolution of corporate attitudes towards social
responsibility resulting from changing consumer preferences. Many surveys and reports show that more and more (even as much as 71%, according to 5W Consumer Culture Report) customers prefer companies aligned with their values. It’s hardly surprising that Big Tech tries to respond accordingly and adapt to this new environment.
That, however, is not the sole domain of the Silicon Valley giants.
The Vaccine Cold Chain
At xBerry, we also wanted to contribute to the struggle against COVID-19 to the best of our abilities. And since what we do best is use high technology to optimize or automate business and industrial processes, there was one thing that instantly crossed our minds: let’s help make the process of vaccine distribution safer and more efficient! To do so, we designed a unique system — the Vaccine Cold Chain.
Vaccine Cold Chain is a complex IoT solution that ensures the safe delivery of vaccines from the factory to the doctor’s office. This is based on high-frequency RFID tags attached to every vaccine container. The tags each possess a unique ID and can be traced throughout the whole transportation route, providing important environmental data, such as temperature or level of UV radiation.
That, of course, is only part of the system. We also installed special modules with dedicated antennas at every critical point of the route to obtain regular updates on the state of vaccines via a centralized cloud database. The data from the RFID tags is analyzed at every checkpoint and all environmental issues that could pose a threat to the safety of the vaccines are automatically reported to the operator, which minimizes the risk of damage and helps transport the containers safely to their destination.
All Help Matters
As a company specializing in high-tech, we understand both our responsibility and unique ability to help in times of need. In a world so dependent on technology, the amenability of companies like ours is constantly growing. We understand that our job is to facilitate and optimize the vital processes that could make our lives easier. Vaccine Cold Chain is just one instance of our many efforts to do so.
Fortunately, we are not alone in this struggle, as many businesses around the globe become more mindful of the impact they have on society and the world around them. Some can afford to help on a bigger and some on a smaller scale. Nevertheless, all help matters, and as the COVID-19 crisis showed us, it’s absolutely imperative to understand the social responsibilities that running a business entails.
For us at xBerry, this obligation towards society is something completely natural. Our values were established long before the pandemic began. And thanks to them, in times of crisis, we knew immediately which path we would take to best pass the test we were faced with. After all, as engineers, we always aim to improve the way things work – even if it is about fighting a global pandemic together. We proudly admit that we have met this challenge as well.
Corporate social responsibility is an important subject. At xBerry, we are particularly committed to spreading values such as sustainability and waste reduction. That’s why our company’s purpose is to bring about the efficient transformation of business and industry. Learn more on that here.