The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted world economies, international travel relations and even forced entire countries into lockdown in order to curb the spread. This means that people from all over have been looking for ways to keep themselves connected and entertained despite living in lawful isolation.
To ensure you’re prepared, here is a list of 9 tech tools you’ll need to stay productive, active and safe during South Africa’s lockdown:
1. Uncapped WiFi/Internet access
The Internet is a wonderful, miraculous thing. Be anywhere in the world at the click of your mouse. Now, as South Africa prepares for imminent lockdown, people privileged enough to have access to the internet in their homes will do most of their living on that internet.
In fact, every single other point on this list is based on the fact that you have a working, uncapped Internet connection – be it WiFi or otherwise – in your home. Access from your smartphone can also be helpful, although data is costly and scarce.
Axxess continues to produce the most affordable uncapped internet in South Africa, a premium uncapped 2mb connection runs you $16.33 (R285.00) per month. Though it may appear small, 2mb will allow streaming on Netflix, as well as video calling/conferencing – although not at its highest possible quality.
In terms of data, South African telecom giants Vodacom and MTN have pledged to lower their prices and send free data packages to customers every month, starting from April. Your lockdown phone surfing will be more affordable than ever right now, especially as MTN and Vodacom are zero-rating many websites and services.
2. Netflix or Showmax
Netflix and Showmax users have on-demand access to hundreds (if not thousands) of series, movies and documentaries, provided they have an Internet connection – see point 1.
Content streaming services like Netflix and Showmax provide users with seemingly endless entertainment, so it’s no wonder they’ve seen a major uptake in subscriptions over the last few months.
According to Forbes, these services are highly likely to benefit from such a crisis because they are viewed as a “stay-at-home stock, that could see traction, particularly internationally, as more people are confined to their homes, eschewing more public forms of entertainment”.
3. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams brings together chats, meetings, calling and Office 365 document sharing. And it’s a fantastic communication and collaborations tool for businesses who have had to shut down their offices and take work home.
Already, the company is seeing how solutions that enable remote work and learning across chat, video, and file collaboration have become central to the way people work.
Microsoft says that there has been an unprecedented spike in Teams usage, and now has more than 44 million daily users, a figure that has grown by 12 million in just the last seven days. And those users have generated over 900 million meeting and calling minutes on Teams each day.
Remote-working is a viable solution for businesses at a time when their employees are forced to remain at home. But while this work-from-home migration is aimed at protecting people from a physical virus, it could leave organisations even more vulnerable and susceptible to cybersecurity attacks.
This is because monitoring and containing threats will be more difficult. To ensure that your business is secure, invest in a trusted and reliable antivirus from AVG, Kaspersky or Norton.
VoIPs, or Voice over Internet Protocol, are platforms on which people can use the internet as their medium for telephonic conversation. This is done by sending voice data packages through IP instead of the traditional circuit transmissions.
VoIP saves users and callers in talking minutes and airtime and should be a must-have for someone who makes a lot of calls at work – now working at home.
VoIPs are usually quite affordable, for example, Axxess’ VoIP service Axxess Voice “…allows you to make affordable VoIP calls to any telephone number in the world, and free calls to other Axxess Voice numbers, via your Internet connection”. Axxess Voice also features zero subscription costs.
6. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok
All over the world social media sites are proclaiming massive user spikes as people are unable to do any socialising not from home. For many years technology has slowly been preparing us for this isolation. Now, there are hundreds of options to choose from where you can interact with real, living people virtually.
While WhatsApp will be in more usage than usual as families attempt to remain connected through group chats and try and update each other – it will be on the international social maelstroms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter that people will flock to the most.
Humans are social animals, we crave zeitgeist-fueled discourse. Now that people are unable to leave their homes, it will be in the hands of social media to support human interaction as it has never been before.
And if you just want to laugh at very funny, very large dogs and cats, TikTok is the place for you.
OneCart is an e-commerce grocery website and mobile application that allows users to shop by category across multiple stores – like retail giants Woolworths, Pick n Pay and Food Lovers Market.
Online shoppers can sort through thousands of products and add them to their digital cart. After making a secure payment, OneCart will deliver the order within 2 hours throughout South Africa’s major urban hubs, namely Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.
OneCart has assured users that the online store and delivery service will be operating as usual during the 21-day lockdown. The platform is available on both Android and IOS devices as well as through the website homepage for desktop and mobile.
8. Video Games
For extraverts, the lockdown will be difficult in managing boredom – if you’re used to going out and seeing people almost every day, you’re just going to have to do what the introverts do.
So if you simply have nothing to do, you can join the only bandwagon you’ll never regret – Video Games. Currently, video gaming is undergoing another boom period as people are trapped at home with nothing to do. Another reason why it is one of the most robust and adaptable industries in human history.
And publishers have acknowledged this. Across the board, from PlayStation to PC – games are being sold at discount prices as publishers and devs recognise how important sinking your new-found hours away on destroying the minions of hell is.
No console? No problem. There are currently hundreds of quality games being sold on mobile platforms, some of them are being given away for free like the very timely Plague Inc – a game where you play as the creator of a worldwide pandemic where the objective of the game is to infect as many people as possible.
If gaming just isn’t for you and you really miss seeing the world around you, then fear not. There is a multitude of tools on the Internet with which you can see and find very interesting things, new things. The first and easiest to get a hold of is Google Street View.
Don’t be shy to type in interesting places like Bangkok, Thailand.
Finally, museums and historic sites across the world are offering virtual tours as their institutions sit still, emptied by the pandemic.
9. Pandemic Tracker
With thousands of disparate voices in the media all reporting simultaneously from all across the world, it can be difficult to find a singular all-informative source when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
Especially now as countries call for closures and lockdowns, seeing information that is trustworthy and updated in real-time is an important tool for people to understand just what exactly is going on.
Enter the COVID-19 Visualizer, this website allows users to visualise the Earth and discover the active cases, deaths, and recoveries from the much-maligned novel coronavirus.
Users can pan across the globe, select a country and receive information about the virus. The statistics are updated in real-time, as soon as new information comes in.
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