By Chand Bellur
April 11, 2020 at 2:50 p.m. PDT
- The novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 107,000 lives worldwide, with almost two million confirmed cases.
- Testing in the United States is still lagging behind other nations.
- Apple Maps will display COVID-19 testing locations, making it easier to test, trace contacts, and isolate the infected.
Apple Maps to Include COVID-19 Testing Locations
The global pandemic has changed the way we work, live, and co-exist with others. A lack of testing has forced much of the worldwide population to shelter in place, as social distancing is the only way to assure safety.
Technology companies have risen to the occasion. Unfortunately, their response has been underwhelming. Leaving much to be desired, large, latent corporations like Apple and Google have offered simplistic solutions. For example, Apple’s First Responder COVID-19 Guide is mostly a rehashed questionnaire to assess the need for testing. It does not provide locations of available testing centers.
Although quality technology takes time to develop, months have elapsed since COVID-19 infections have spread. Fortunately, Apple has developed a rudimentary system for adding testing locations to Apple Maps. The data should make it easier for those with symptoms to get tested.
Testing Locations Submitted By Emailing CSV File
Apple’s software development latency is apparent with quick and dirty solutions to pressing problems. As COVID-19 cases have inflated to almost two million, Apple offers a throwback solution for adding testing locations to Apple Maps.
Labs, healthcare providers, and other testing centers can add their testing locations to Apple Maps using a website. Users must first download a comma-separated value (CSV) template to add the data. Apple receives the CSV file as an email attachment. The whole process appears to be antiquated. Emailing CSV files seems like something one did two decades ago.
Although this process is valid, it demonstrates a lack of automation. Ideally, end users should input information in a web form or app. They could even use Apple Maps itself. Fiddling with a CSV file is complicated for many end-users. On Apple’s end, dealing with emails and CSV files is likely a semi-automated process.
Time is of the essence, but one may wonder how many testing centers will be listed. Knowledge of Apple’s COVID-19 testing location website is limited. Even Apple’s Newsroom has failed to publicize their testing location website.
Although greater knowledge of testing locations will help, this solution is no panacea. Americans need more access to testing now, not months from now. Nations most successful at combatting COVID-19 have testing centers everywhere. Do we take this disease seriously, or are we just going to let corporations half-heartedly attempt to solve problems, with tools that are ill-equipped for the task? The time has come for action from health authorities, as it’s clear the private sector has limited capabilities.