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10 Technological Trends to Watch for During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thursday, July 9, 2020

/ by Muhammad Irfan Yasin

Top 10 Technological Trends to Watch for During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic of novel corona-virus has demonstrated the importance and challenges associated with technologies such as payments through digital methods, telehealth and robotics.

The pandemic COVID-19 has taken Top 10 key technology trends to the next level, these include digital payments, telehealth and robotics.
We can make our societies more resilient to the pandemics with the help of these technologies and other threats to human beings.
During the pandemic of COVID-19, technologies played a vital role in keeping our society functional during periods of isolation, quarantine and social distancing. These technologies will be having their long lasting impacts even after this Covid-19 pandemic.

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Here are the Top 10 technological trends that can help build a resilient society to the pandemics, along with an analysis of their impacts on the way we do our businesses, trade, work, produce, learn, research and we have fun in life.

1. Online shopping and Delivery by Robots

At the end of year 2002, the SARS epidemic led to considerable growth of the B2B and B2C online market platforms in People Republic of China.

Similarly, COVID-19 has transformed online shopping, which has gone from appreciable to indispensable worldwide. Some bars in Beijing have even continued to offer happy hours thanks to online orders and delivery.

We have to support online shopping by a well robust logistics system. Delivery by a person increases chances for us to be vulnerable to the corona-virus. Many companies and restaurants in the China and USA are launching contact free delivery systems where goods are picked up and dropped off at a required location instead of going into the hands of the delivery person and the consumer. Chinese e-commerce giants are also accelerating their development of robots delivery. However, before robots delivery services spread in the world, delivery companies must establish clear protocols to protect the health of the delivered goods so that humans are not affected.

Without man to man contact food and goods can be delivered by Robots.

2. Digital and contactless payments

It's very much possible that cash can carry the virus, so central banks in USA and People Republic of China have taken various measures to keep notes clean before they go into circulation. New ways of contact-free digitized payments, in the form of cards or electronic wallets, are now the recommended payment method to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Digitized payments allow people to perform online purchases and payments for goods and services that made, pay utility bills and liabilities, and receive stimulus funds faster.

Digital payments without contact can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep business and economy flowing.

However, according to the reports of the World Bank, more than 1.7 billion people do not own a bank account and therefore they cannot take benefit of this digitized payments method. For the availability of digitized payments the Internet across the globe should be available, devices and a network to convert cash to digital format.

3. Telework

Employees are asked to work from home by their employer companies. Telecommuting has been made possible by technologies such as virtual private networks (VPNs), VoIP (voice over the Internet) protocols, virtual meetings, cloud technology, collaboration tools at work and even communication technologies. Facial recognition by which someone appears in front of a virtual background to safeguard the privacy of his home. In addition to preventing the spread of viruses, teleworking also saves travel time and offers more flexibility and provides humans ease so that they can give more outcomes.

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However, telework also poses challenges for both employers and employees. Information security, confidentiality and timely technical support can be big issues, as recent class actions against Zoom have revealed. Distance work can also complicate labor law issues, including those associated with a safe working environment and tax issues. If remote working becomes more common after the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may decide to cut rental costs and hire people from areas where labor costs are cheaper.

Laws and regulations need to be reviewed and updated to account for remote working and provide solution to the problems of both employer as-well-as employee - and other psychological studies need to be conducted to understand the effect of telework on people.

Employees classify collaboration and communication, loneliness and being unable to unplug their main difficulties when working from home.

In addition, not all trades can be carried out from home, which creates disparities. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 25% of salaried workers worked at home, at least occasionally, between 2017 and 2018.  If the volume of international digital services increases significantly then data flow and taxation policies should be updated and reviewed accordingly.

4. Distance learning

By mid-April, 191 countries had announced or implemented school or university closings, impacting 1.57 billion students. Many institutions have started offering online courses to ensure that education is not disrupted by quarantine measures.

Even kindergarten children learn at home - but will this trend create greater cleavages and increase pressure on parents?

Major concerns about distance learning/education include the possibility that technologies can create a wider gap in terms of digital readiness and a family's income level. Distance learning or e-learning could also put economic pressure on parents.

5. Telehealth

Telehealth can be used to control the spread of COVID-19 while providing necessary primary care. Vital signs can be tracked by the portable personal IoT devices. Chatbots can help in making initial diagnoses based on symptoms identified by patients.
Telehealth also requires a certain level of technological knowledge to function, as well as a good Internet connection. And medical services being one of the most regulated companies, doctors can generally only provide medical care to patients who live in the same jurisdiction.

6. Online entertainment

Although quarantine measures have greatly reduced the face-to-face interactions, human creativity allows partying online. Cloud raves and online concert broadcasting have gained ground around the world. Chinese film production companies have also posted films online. Heritage sites and Museums are offering the virtual tours for viewers. The flow of online games has also peaked since the pandemic of Covid-19.

Even dance teachers take their lessons online during the pandemic.

7. Supply chain 4.0

Following the social distancing and quarantine orders, some factories have closed completely. While the demand for food and personal protective equipment is skyrocketing, some countries have implemented different levels of embargoes on the export of these items. The heavy usage of the paper based documents, the present supply chain is vulnerable to any pandemic due to lack of visibility into data, and lack of diversity and flexibility.

The core technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, such as Big Data, cloud computing, the blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) are being used to make the data more accurate to build such a powerful management system for supply chain process that work according to the needs in the near future by encouraging sharing.

8. 3D printing

The technology of 3D printing is an excellent alternative to minimize the impacts of coronavirus on the supply chain and embargoes on the export of personal protective equipment. 3D printing allows a certain production flexibility: the same printer can generate many different types of products from files and materials of different design, and simple parts can be manufactured quickly on site without requiring a slow procurement process and a long wait before the packages arrive.

However, massive production using 3D printing faces some hurdles. First, the production of patent protected parts can pose problems to intellectual property. Second, the production of certain products, such as surgical masks, is subject to regulatory approvals, which may take some time to be obtained. 

9. Robotics and drones

Due to the COVID-19 it is now clear to us that how much we rely on one-to-one interactions to make things work. Labor-intensive businesses, such as retail, food, manufacturing and logistics are the most affected during this pandemic.

COVID-19 has greatly stimulated the deployment of the use of robots and research on robotics. In recent times, robots have been used to disinfect areas and deliver food to isolated people. The drones have walked dogs and delivered items.

A robot helps doctors treat patients with COVID-19 in hard-hit in Italy.

Although some reports predict that many manufacturing jobs are going to be replaced by robots in the future, at the same time, new jobs will be created in the process. State Institutions must introduce new policies for the workers and employees so that they have sufficient training and social well-being to accept these changes.

10. 5G and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

All the above mentioned technological trends are based on a stable, broadband and affordable Internet connection. While 5G has demonstrated its importance in remote supervision and medical consultation, the deployment of 5G has been delayed in European countries when it is most needed. The adoption and shifting to the 5G will increase the need of more 5G compatible devices and that of data plans. It is future's huge challenging issues to be solved to ensure inclusive Internet access as the 5G network expands globally.

The importance of digital preparation

COVID-19 demonstrated the importance of digital readiness and preparedness, which allows businesses, economy and life to continue as normal as possible - during these pandemics. Building the infrastructure to support a digital world and use the latest technology will be essential for any business or country to remain competitive and for their economies to survive in a post-COVID-19 world, as well as to adopt a human-centered and inclusive approach to technological governance.

British Broadcasting Corporation famous as "BBC" shows in his report that the number of people who can have to quit their jobs due to COVID-19 is around 20 crores. And the financial burden often weighs on the most vulnerable in society. Digitization and COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated changes in the jobs available to humans. The question that all the governments and industries are facing now is that how the effect can be eliminated, within time, on the majority of the most vulnerable working people due to these pandemics? it needs the attention of state institutions and a well timely and people-centered solution.
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  1. Is it going to make a difference?

    1. It will make the difference. On future we will see the robots taking place of humans in every aspect even in health care departments


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