How and what technology is helping us tackle the pandemic
The pandemic has changed the way we live. The effects of the pandemic have been devastating across the world in many ways, however we are fortunate to have advanced technology at our hands. The use of technology has been crucial in the fight against Covid-19 and it would be unimaginable to think what the impact would have been without it.
Here are the five main areas that technology has helped with taking on the pandemic and making a difference through unparalleled times.
We are all aware of the basic preventative measures such as washing your hands, wearing face masks etc. but thanks to technology, there has been a vast array of advanced solutions to further prevent the spread of the virus. Over the course of the pandemic, the public has become accustomed to:
- thermal imaging technology to detect high temperatures
- nanotechnology in decontamination sprays and face masks to provide advanced protection against Covid-19 particles as well as other viruses and bacteria.
- autonomous sanitization robots deployed in hospitals, airports and shopping malls
- drones to transport health supplies to hospitals, sanitization services and thermal imaging
One of the biggest changes we have seen over the course of the pandemic was the workplace. As a preventative measure and to enforce social distancing, many companies had to adopt remote work. Working from home became the new normal and remote technology was essential to ensure employees could work effectively from anywhere. Cloud platforms and video conferencing and collaboration tools such as as Zoom or Microsoft Teams became integral in creating a digital workspace.
The pandemic forced many businesses to take on an almost exclusively digital approach where possible and with businesses and its employees adapting to this lifestyle, the enforcement of a digital environment in the workplace will continue to thrive in the future.
E-Commerce & Digital payment
The effects of Covid-19 have been devastating for the retail industry. With many countries on lockdown for prolonged periods and with consumers concerned with hygiene and physical distance, the huge shift to e-commerce meant many retail businesses had to improve their technology to provide cashless payment systems and upgrade their online shopping platforms to keep the business afloat and to meet digital shopping demands. According to Visa, over 52% of shopping was done online in Hong Kong compared to 40% pre-Covid which also led to a rise in usage of mobile banking apps and virtual banks.
Security concerns over digital shopping and e-payment has also seen more companies invest more in cyber security technology to counter and prevent security breaches, fraud and loss of data protection. Biometric and multi-factor authentications in mobile banking and online purchases, as well as live chats and in-app instructions to report stolen credit cards or fraud are just some examples consumers have access to ensure a safer e-commerce environment.
Hospitals overwhelmed due to Covid-19 cases and the public generally avoiding high-risk areas meant hospitals and doctors have also had to turn away less serious health cases. Fortunately, with the technology available, people have access to multiple healthcare mobile apps and telehealth services with their doctors for less serious matters.
Online booking systems, remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and the use of EHR systems are just some of the solutions to provide health services during disruptive times and also to help identify and diagnose Covid-19 cases.
The topic of surveillance has been a controversial one, however there is no denying that it has played its role as an effective counteractive pandemic measure. The deployment of track and trace technology such as the current LeaveHomeSafe app implemented by all restaurants in Hong Kong has been an integral part in minimizing the spread of Covid-19. Customers and restaurants can be notified immediately of close contact to confirmed patients and to minimize the spread of clusters.
During the early stages of the pandemic when Covid-19 tests were not readily available, surveillance/ location tracking devices were given to incoming travellers to enforce home quarantine. Although the technology was fraught with issues due to lack of preparation time and was eventually phased out, it was still considered effective at the time to contain and track the spread of Covid-19.
Facial recognition sensors have also been used to detect people with fevers and people flouting mask-wearing laws in Asian countries such as China. The highly controversial facial recognition technology was already in use before the pandemic for law enforcements and matters of national security but it was also proven to be an effective measure in minimizing the spread of Covid-19.