Continuous developments in technology fuel significant improvements in our quality of life and spur economic growth. The tech sector plays a major and vital economic role, particularly in Canada, where the ICT sector contributed to 4.5% of the total GDP in 2018 with 652,450 ICT sector employees across the country. Companies leverage technology to increase productivity, maximize efficiency, reduce operational costs, and improve communication.

However, due to the unprecedented global pandemic which significantly affected all industries, companies needed to develop innovative solutions in order to adapt and survive. In this five-part series, we examine how the top technology trends forecasted for 2020 have shifted in the fight against COVID-19 to help the world adapt to the new normal.

With the pandemic outbreak forcing people to shelter-in-place and work from home all over the world, dramatic changes to our lifestyle fueled the further demand for increasing (remote) connectivity.

IoT and IoMT

IoT (Internet-of-things), which is the system of interconnected devices, plays a major role in supporting the global demand for connectivity. Although IoT has already been booming with an estimate of 30B interconnected devices connected through the Internet in 2020, the effects of reduced physical contact highlighted the need for IoT-oriented solutions such as cloud platforms to facilitate remote work and sensor systems to enable contactless interactions.

Particularly in the healthcare industry, the adoption of IoT revolutionized the delivery of healthcare services and is showing great promise in containing the virus. IoMT (Internet-of-medical-things) enables connectivity between multiple devices and applications and health care IT systems. This is especially helpful to conduct contact tracing through mobile applications or wearable devices to identify the risk of virus exposure to the population. Further to this, the wealth of information harvested from the billions of devices could be analyzed to create a health weather map system that could help predict emerging outbreaks. 

Smart Cities

As the use of interconnected devices is extending beyond personal and medical applications into our surrounding environment, the development of smart cities is gaining traction globally. A smart city uses IoT technology to connect components across a city to derive meaningful information and improve quality of life.

Increasing urbanization in our society presents issues and challenges which may be overcome by leveraging smart city technology. The information obtained from the components could be used to predict traffic routes, formulate waste management solutions, and improve energy efficiency. In addition to improving the quality of everyday life, the importance of smart cities in curbing easily spreadable diseases is highlighted due to the COVID-19 crisis. Due to the mass sensor systems which serve as the foundation of smart cities, proximity distance sensing and contact tracing can be done on a large scale and in real-time.

While interconnectivity is essential in these times when we are forced to stay apart, the massive data collected from the billions of interconnected devices require proper and secure handling to ensure that IoT technology does not infringe on our data privacy.

In the next article of our series, we discuss how big data analytics is used to discover new information about COVID-19 and ways to secure the data through blockchain technology.