The world as we know it has changed since COVID-19 became a pandemic. Indeed, no one is sure if normalcy will resume any time soon or ever. It is time to rethink and reorganize our lives to ensure we are safe.
Notably, the global economic scene has been hit hard. Businesses and industries around the world have either scaled down operations or closed down. In the developing world, it is predicted that half of the working class could be out of jobs due to the pandemic.
Despite the negative impact COVID-19 has had on many industries including tourism and aviation, still, other areas have thrived. Technology is definitely at the top of the list. In fact, technology has helped to manage the pandemic.
In what seems to be a symbiotic relationship, both the disease and technology have impacted each other. In this article, we will discuss 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has led to technological advancements.
Most companies have either laid off their staff or asked them to work from home. For employees who have lost their jobs, the focus has shifted to remote jobs. Companies are now recruiting online and work is being supervised and submitted over the Internet.
Thus, whether one is seeking for an online job or working from home, online tools such as Zoom have become popular. Others include Skype and Slack all of which help to manage employee tasks and output. Zoom has particularly been so successful attracting 300 million users as of June 2020, up from 10 million in December 2019.
The concept of telehealth has aided the fight against COVID-19. Patients can chat with their doctors and get personalized healthcare. The development of mobile apps by medical providers has been a priority since most patients – not necessarily coronavirus patients – are afraid of visiting hospitals.
Wearable IoT devices have been developed to track and manage vital signs for patients. The Apple Watch, for instance, can produce electrocardiograms. Chatbots can also make accurate diagnoses based on the patients’ details.
By mid-April, 191 nations had announced the suspension of learning in their academic institutions. Consequently, new methods of learning had to be developed and technology came to the rescue.
Similar to remote work, e-learning uses platforms such as Zoom and other conferencing tools, artificial intelligence (AI) robot teachers, 3D printing, and augmented reality (AR) to deliver classroom material.
Sadly, distance learning can create a digital divide with regards to income level and digital readiness. Besides, parents, especially mothers, might have to stay at home to homeschool their children, thus creating economic pressure.
After the World Health Organization recommended people to use cashless transactions, the call was widely heeded. China responded by destroying and disinfecting banknotes and urging the public to go cashless. The same happened in the US and South Korea.
The number of cashless transactions has increased since the coronavirus pandemic thanks partly to technology. Mobile service providers and financial institutions have teamed to come up with mobile apps and end-user computer applications to assist in financial transactions.
In a bid to contain the virus, Kenya’s leading telco Safaricom with its award-winning mobile money platform M-Pesa waived fees for transactions below KES 2,000 (USD 20). The move has seen most people opt for mobile money when doing shopping, thereby increasing the platform’s popularity.
Drones and Robotics
With the human workforce heavily affected during the pandemic, the focus has shifted to drones and robots. Indeed, industries such as food and retail are labor-intensive and must continue to operate despite the crisis.
Smart robots and other devices have been developed to assists in tasks once handled by humans. A good example is the pandemic drone currently in use in Australia. The device is being used to monitor body temperatures, heart rates, and keep track of social distancing.
Arguably, this technology is making mass tracking and management of people easier. However, there are concerns regarding data collection and privacy of individuals.
The world has turned to technology to beat the virus. Fortunately, it is the only way we can get some important aspects of our lives such as work and school going on albeit in ways we might need getting used to.
Nonetheless, there is a need to come up with more innovations. These will not only help during the crisis but also help us change our perception of what technology is and how it impacts our lives, long after the virus is gone.