Did You Say Free? Cross-Industry Solidarity in the Coronavirus Era

News. Communications. Fitness. Music. Arts. Vendors of all shapes and sizes are getting creative to help us all ride out this wave.

A handful of useful applications and services are going free for the coming weeks in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. These include at-home fitness applications, news outlets, video conferencing apps, and more.

Read on to find out who they are and what they’re offering.

Stay Updated: News publications remove paywalls

Many news publications are removing their paywalls to make it as easy as possible for readers to stay up to date on the coronavirus pandemic. Some outlets are completely removing their paywalls, while others are removing paywalls for articles specifically relating to the topic.

Participating publications include:

Stay in touch: Communications platforms offer complimentary services

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has pushed many organizations to transition to remote work, while social distancing is forcing us to distance ourselves and minimize contact with the people we care about.

Thankfully, there are digital technologies we can leverage to help us stay connected during these difficult times. Remember-social distancing does not have to mean social separation.

  • Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial globally for a premium tier of Microsoft Teams, Business Insider first reportedThe tier was originally designed to enable hospitals, schools, and businesses in China to get up and running quickly on Microsoft Teams, and that tier is now available globally.
  • Google announced that it would be rolling out free access to “advanced” features for Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally through July 1st. That means organizations can host meetings with up to 250 participants, live stream to up to 100,000 viewers within a single domain, and record and save meetings to Google Drive.

We want to help businesses and schools impacted by COVID-19 stay connected: starting this week, we’ll roll out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020 to all G Suite customers globally. https://t.co/OWWF7s5jjR

— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) March 3, 2020

  • Long-time conferencing service WebEx’s default-free plan offers you conferencing for up to three users with HD video, screen sharing on desktop and mobile devices, and limited recording options. It supports up to 50 participants per meeting, with meeting times capped at 40 minutes and online storage limited to 1GB.

    With its special, Webex is offering unlimited usage with no time restrictions, support for up to 100 participants, and toll-call dial-in in addition to existing VoIP capabilities. This offer is being made with a free 90-day license to businesses that are not already Webex customers.

Stay in shape: Fitness apps offer home solutions

Gyms may be closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t workout.

  • Planet Fitness is encouraging people to remain active at home during the coronavirus pandemic by offering a series of live workouts. Classes will be streamed daily on their Facebook page at 4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET, and will be free for everyone:

“Our daily routines have changed in unexpected ways, and we know that people may not be able to get to the gym. That’s why we’re offering a free, daily virtual fitness class for everyone on Planet Fitness’ Facebook page from Monday through Friday.”
-Jeremy Tucker, CMO of Planet Fitness, in a statement to USA TODAY.

  • Down Dog, a highly-rated app for practicing yoga at home, is making its yoga for beginners, HIIT, barre and 7-minute workout classes free through Wednesday, April 1.

“Due to the current coronavirus outbreak, many people are avoiding gathering in large groups, including yoga studios and other fitness spaces…[we] believe that stressful times like these are precisely when people need wellness practices the most, and we are committed to doing our part to help out.”
-Carlos Ormachea, co-founder of Down Dog.

  • The popular Tone It Up app is also joining in, offering 100% free membership to new members for the next month. Similar to Down Dog, the app offers a variety of workouts that range from barre to weights, and even offers meditation sessions.

Stay Entertained: Enjoy music & the arts from the comfort of your own home

Madonna was right- music makes the people come together (yeah).

  • The Met launched “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” a free series of encore Live in HD presentations, streamed on the company website for the duration of their closure due to the coronavirus.

“We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. “Every night, we’ll be offering a different complete operatic gem from our collection of HD presentations from the past 14 years.”

  • Play around with sounds using Moog and Korg, both of which have made certain synth apps free for a limited time. Moog’s Minimoog Model D iOS app is now free, and it cost $4.99 when it was introduced in 2018. It’s a faithful visual reproduction of the hardware version (which will set you back a few thousand bucks). Korg is also making its Kaossilator app for iOS and Android free for a limited time.
  • Some of the world’s best art institutions are opening their (virtual) doors, for free.
    “We’re proud to be part of a community of museums working to provide ongoing or expanded #MuseumFromHome options to our communities in response to recent closures,” SFMOMA said in a tweet.

Please remember- this too shall pass.

Public health must come first, and as such we must change the way we conduct ourselves and our daily lives. But while we are distancing ourselves physically, circumstances beyond our control are in fact bringing us together in novel ways.

This is not the first challenge humanity has faced, nor will it be its last. But as in the past, we will all adjust, together, and we will weather this storm, together.

Stay healthy, stay safe. For everything else, human creativity and a cross-industry show of solidarity will come to the rescue.

About DataRails

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