Google, the massive tech company that is at least halfway through taking over the world, has partnered with New York state to help build a portal for unemployment applications. The reason? Unemployment claims are soaring and overtaxing the aging infrastructure of the Department of Labor. Google has even stated that they hope to partner with other states to implement similar portals.
This all underscores the woeful lack of modern site infrastructure in government websites. In fact, many have noted that governments, from local to state to federal, largely seem to undervalue their technological infrastructure.
The IRS, for instance, has some databases from the 1960s still in use.
Google’s initiative, known as “Tech Surge,” is aimed at serving the public during a time of crisis. While the novel coronavirus initially overwhelmed hospitals and threatened a major public health crisis, its main threat, now, is that of joblessness.
An economic crash looms as the economy has been essentially induced into a coma to slow the spread of COVID-19.
This has led to a massive surge in the need for government safety net programs. As millions of people are laid off while the economy reels from the impact of COVID and social distancing measures, the need for government programs to help them is clear.
While American institutions have been largely untested for the last decade, following the last economic collapse, this crisis is putting the lacking state of government resources into stark contrast with the advances made by private companies like Google.
While Google works closely alongside New York, the company has announced that it would like to partner with other states, too. While New York is the state that has been hit the hardest by this virus, experts fear that other states will see their peak case numbers and deaths in the weeks to come.
A Google spokesperson told reporters, “We continue to work with local, state, and federal agencies on a number of projects to help them better serve citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Entire sectors of the economy, like hospitality and retail, have been all but shut down, indefinitely.
This has led some to wonder whether the draconian social distancing measures put in place were an overreaction. Experts insist that the moves taken to combat the spread of the virus were necessary and life-saving, though some economists have argued that “the cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease.”
The final verdict on whether the US response to the virus was the right course of action will likely not be known until years from now.