Imagine how the current pandemic would have played out without all the technology we have at our disposal. Consider how slowly information and resources would have spread to emerging nations. Think about how inefficient contact tracing would have been or how we wouldn’t be able to control the velocity of money without e-commerce and contactless payments. We’re fighting a global crisis but without technology, it would have been a catastrophe – and we would have lost the battle.
Our society now relies on technology in ways that it never has before and this will define what everyone is calling the new normal. We can already make some educated predictions about the world we’re evolving into based on trends that are already well underway.
Social or physical distancing behaviour has to remain in place until we’ve synthesised and widely distributed an effective vaccine. This means that many of the social, economic and recreational activities we used to perform in large groups have to evolve with the help of technology. Video conferencing has already shown value for endless uses and so will the maturation of 5G connectivity. Professional roles are evolving to become more tech-driven so that organisations can support (and perhaps grow) their remote operations. Even exercise is changing – people are forgoing gyms in favour of home workouts with virtual trainers.
With the necessary precautions in place (such as wearing masks, sanitising everything liberally and maintaining physical distance) the on-demand economy has managed to steady itself during the pandemic.
It makes sense when you think about it: with everyone being encouraged to stay at home, the services we need have to come to us. This used to simply mean groceries, experiences, odd jobs and transport but in the new normal, lab technicians, massage therapists, dog walkers and child-minders will join the on-demand workforce. The infrastructure to support a growing on-demand economy is already here (smartphone penetration in South Africa is more than 90%). All we need to do is to build the next Uber for at-home blood work.
If necessity is the mother of invention then crisis is the mother of innovation. There aren’t many silver linings to be found in the predicament the world is in but one thing is certain: the creative technology solutions we’ve developed to fight the pandemic will benefit us forever. We’re using AI to finally fly drones indoors, autonomous bots are solving last-mile issues for human-contactless deliveries and wearables can check you for a fever. Post-Covid, these new techniques and technologies will continue to revolutionise multiple parts of our daily lives.