One thing that has become the most significant feature of our lives during the Covid-19 is the use of technology. It was far less common for citizens years ago to own a smartphone or a tablet or have internet access at home. In 2020, pandemic prevention and control measures such as services without physical contact and stay-at-home orders have pushed people to live indoors leaving outdoors and rely more on online than offline activities.
So, how is technology, underpinned by digital transformation, giving birth to a new intelligent world?
The most remarkable change in our routines, apart from social distancing, is working from home. People are using video conferencing to enable communications and collaboration, while centralised offices have become distributed workplaces.
As many as 191 countries have announced or implemented school or university closures, affecting 1.57 billion students. Educational institutions have started adapting to online technologies for distant learning that are similar to those applied for remote work, a process that involves virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and artificial-intelligence-enabled robot teachers.
Also the healthcare industry is witnessing an urgent need for online medical consultation and medicare services, to reduce pressure on hospitals and risk of cross-infection. This has triggered an unprecedented demand for digital health technology solutions.
The Covid-19 confirms that digital transformation is critical to our collective efforts to live through a pandemic or any natural disaster. This is a unique situation most of us have never experienced and had no way to prepare for, but still, we are far better equipped to deal with it in 2020 than we could have 5-10 years ago.
Individuals, families, and businesses have been greatly affected by Covid-19 that has pushed them to demand more from their ICT infrastructure. Realising the importance of digital transformation; many governments and regulators have adopted a number of policies to facilitate such infrastructure upgrading and are working with telecom industries to develop policies to support the fight against the pandemic.
Government of many countries issued a number of policies to promote the application of "big data + grid", "Internet + medical healthcare", and "artificial intelligence" to make high quality medical consultation services easily accessible. These services include online health assessments, health guidance, educational resources, and psychological counselling, as well as follow-up examinations for patients with chronic illness.
We cannot predict exactly when Covid-19 will end, but what we can do is continue our daily life overcoming challenges. The Covid-19 has forced many Bangladeshi schools to shift to distance learning, and others are still trying to consider the option of online classrooms. Moreover, with offices closed, people have started carrying out their tasks from home.
However, freezes and long delays can occur when a large number of users access networks and the cloud simultaneously for video conferencing, online courses, video streaming, online gaming, home fitness, and other home entertainment.
To deliver satisfactory services, it is important to expand both capacity of cloud video platforms to adapt to user needs in high-concurrency scenarios, and home and mobile broadband for multi-user, high-traffic, and low-latency scenarios.
Thus, digital technology supported by ICT infrastructure has been a cornerstone of fighting the pandemic. Now, big data, AI, and cloud computing supported by ICT networks are crucial to monitoring and analysing the pandemic, tracking the virus, preventing and controlling the pandemic, treating patients, and allocating resources.
Digital technologies are contributing to carrying out social activities during the shutdown. One of the key characteristics of this pandemic is that it affects offline economic activities because of measures such as "stay at home" and "social distancing". Massive amounts of social and economic activities have gone online. Businesses closed their doors, and students stayed home, but networks put people back to work and school, virtually, and demand for online office and learning applications. surges.
Various other activities that have gone online in Bangladesh include groceries, shopping, and banking. On top of it, the nation is witnessing a surge in e-health service industry since the outbreak of the virus. We believe a unified leadership of the government, active support of the regulators, and joint efforts from the ICT industry will allow us to accelerate the process of digital transformation and pace of building ICT infrastructure construction.
The government has acted quickly with public health directives, stimulus packages, and scaled-up social protection programmes. The pandemic will significantly impact the economy, but with the help of ICT, the government, along with private companies, can tackle the issue and try to build a new intelligent world.
The pandemic is ruthless, but there is warmth in humanity. We saw that all walks of life are doing their best to ensure business operation and fight against the Covid-19. The invisible light and electrical signals flowing through the cables above and below us have established a digital channel for saving lives and maintaining basic activities of society. It's a great honour to be one part of the main force in supporting the fight against the Covid-19. We strongly believe we will get through this difficult period soon.
Zhang Zhengjun is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Limited.