Is COVID accelerating the 4th Industrial Revolution?
From time to time, biologists have been stressing upon the fact that the population of any species of living organisms experiences a significant amount of evolutionary change within short and often stressful bursts of time. Topmost biologists – Gould and Eldredge – had once said that evolution wasn’t a constant, but a gradual process. Evolution occurs in episodes whenever species undergo times full of tension, especially crises. That period is here. It’s prevalent these days. Yes, it pertains to COVID-19.
The profound pressures that organizations, individuals and societies are facing in this crisis are making them head towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The revolution is blurring the boundaries between the physical, digital and biological worlds. It won’t be an over-statement to say that we need to start thinking about how to bring structural changes in our relationship with the environment, and looking at how we conduct ourselves as a global community. COVID-19 is indeed accelerating the momentum of 4th Industrial Revolution. Here is how:
- Video conferencing becomes the primary means of co-working to ensure social distancing: More than 7 billion people live on this planet and all of them have experienced extraordinary restrictions on movement and travel in the wake of the ensuing pandemic. When more than one-third of planet is under lockdown or lockdown-like conditions, video conferencing has emerged as a primary means of co-working. It is also facilitating and promoting the teaching-learning process. Organizations across sectors are scrambling to build new and advanced technical infrastructure that harnesses digital technologies, and in the process, evolve business models at a rapid pace.
- Machine learning is being used to manage healthcare operations: Almost all countries have developed one or more dedicated apps to track and manage cases of COVID-19. Thanks to growing technology! Along with this bit, machine learning (ML) is also gaining prominence in its applications. Researchers and medics have used this technology to search repositories of scholarly published articles pertaining to COVID-19. With the help of ML, over 47,000 articles have already been indexed by the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset Explorer.
- Growth in demand of 3D printers to manufacture mask sheets: The 3D printing industry is accelerating its efforts to help fight the pandemic by manufacturing medical face shields. A noteworthy technology firm has leveraged 3D printers to make medical face shields and hands-free door openers. 3D-printing efforts have also been made to manufacture ventilators to help COVID-19 patients cope up with respiratory problems. Even the manufacturing of N-95 masks is also being done with greater force to control the spread of COVID-19.
- Artificial intelligence helps screen, track and predict future patients: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another technology that is proving to be helpful to fight COVID-19. AI is helping detect and diagnose infections on an early note. It also helps predict the mortality risk by adequately analyzing the previous data of the patients. Its contribution towards the development of drugs and vaccines has been outstanding. AI screens, analyses, predicts and tracks the current patients and likely future patients. Being an evidence-based technology, AI has the potential to improve the planning, treatment and reported outcomes of COVID-19 patients.
- Internet of Things (IoT) conducts monitoring of COVID patients: IoT is playing a good role in proper monitoring of COVID-19 patients. An interconnected network has been employed under IoT which improves patient satisfaction and reduces re-admission rates in hospitals. IoT implementation has reduced healthcare costs. It has also improved treatment outcomes of the infected patients. It is also helping academicians, scientists and researchers propose productive solutions to overcome or confront the pandemic. It is also useful for physicians, surgeons, patients and hospital management systems to identify the symptoms and offer better treatment in a rapid manner.
- Blockchain promotes transparency during fund-raising for COVID: Blockchain technologies offer great potential in the supply chain area by connecting all the stakeholders and providing a single source of truth. It channelizes donations and relief distribution activities in a transparent manner and without the violation of user data. It also helps manage contact tracing, gather and collate patient data efficiently, monitor patients’ movement and ensure social distancing. Blockchain-based global pandemic map can be used to track the spread of the virus, and the number of infected citizens as well the recovered ones.
- Virtual Reality facilitates learning for COVID-19 medical teams: In the wake of the pandemic, researchers are also using technologies like virtual reality to train medical staff through audio-visual virtual communication. It ultimately improves the accuracy and efficiency of the healthcare services. With virtual reality, the training and learning practices are based on proposed simulation-based techniques, which are benign, replicable, and economical too. VR headsets and multiple projection set-ups enable the user to feel, sense, and interact with the created, reality-like virtual environment. VR thus helps in learning and handling real-time problems / cases more productively.
During the time of pandemic, these new-age tools of technology have enabled and enhanced our efforts to cope up with the response. COVID-19 has altered the ways in which we live, work and socialize, pushing the envelope for fourth industrial revolution. It has made us realize the importance of technologies and how can they be harnessed to win the battle against the global pandemic.