COVID-19 has been devastating, and it appears to be far from over. As a pandemic, it’s likely one of the most adverse events of our lifetime. Around the globe, from Italy to Spain, France, major cities in the United States, and multiple Asian regions of the Pacific Rim, communities have been shut down hard.
A hard shut down means managers of operations, formerly performed by human beings, are now searching for alternate means to complete them, as best they can, in a shutdown state. This is a major call for automation and technology to use our digital fabric to expedite operations to the greatest extent possible.
For example, last month in the Philippines, the government ordered a lockdown of its capital city to mitigate the effect of the coronavirus. This meant that the nation's call centers—a significant contributor to their economy—that handle customer calls for enterprises such as airlines, banks, and other companies were suddenly stopped. Workers couldn’t leave their homes and walk into a call center, sit at a wired station, and perform their duties as they did previously.
Since then, large-scale cloud services such as Amazon Web Services have seen a groundswell of inquiry regarding the use of cloud-based services to help automate tasks ordinarily handled by human beings. This move is logical as the power of automated technology can be quite useful in such a scenario. It allows for a mechanism to keep operations continuous and flowing to some extent, if not to the full capability such operations had when humans were performing their tasks.
More specifically, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the horsepower of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications allow digital devices to transmit data and parameters via the cloud to a central repository or platform. Here information can be digested and processed into a useful format that can serve as the basis for decision making. It is quite possible to transform the duties previously done by people in a call center to automated tools of voice and telecommunications in combination with other connected devices. This kind of approach could successfully mitigate the shutdown by putting smart technology to work.
In addition, a digital landscape via automation, can help the world's economy function. It helps collect useful data information, allowing leaders to focus their efforts and allocate limited resources in a world shut down due to COVID-19.
For any business operation, devices and sensors may record and monitor actions and parameters. For example, different temperature, humidity, speed, flow, and other characteristics of motion may be recorded as data points and assimilated into arsenals of big data. This data may then be transmitted via IoT. It may then be further processed so that human beings who are in a shutdown are aided in a pandemic climate by using this gathered and computed information
This data is not only useful for the application of tasks and operations that are separate and disparate from health concerns; it's also instrumental to help manage the pandemic itself.
For instance, infrared heat guns have been used in Asia to detect human body temperature at drive-through testing sites, and feed such temperature data, via the cloud, into a central repository for public officials to know of any risk. It helped them discern susceptibility to high body temperatures that are precursors of the coronavirus infection.
The same holds true for digital thermometers. They could be provided to individuals, inexpensively, to self-monitor their own temperature. After registering, those individuals’ temperatures may be sent via smartphone to a dashboard that aggregates the data. The volumes of big data can transform into analytics that could help indicate high body temperatures and fever trends, telltale signs of the coronavirus.
This kind of approach would help leaders know where, how, and when the virus is spreading and developing. In addition, when somebody registers their demographic data, it could be recorded, warehoused, and subsequently help public health officials know characteristics of the spread, enabling them to take preemptive action.
Automated technologies, using IoT and M2M communications, can be a boon to an upcoming supply chain challenge. If and when a vaccine is developed, or pharmaceuticals are developed to treat coronavirus, such items will likely be temperature sensitive and require automated tools and technology, such as sensors, to monitor temperature and humidity conditions to maintain their integrity until they arrive at their destination.
Summarily, automated technology has come a long way in just the past few years. It's now ripe for use given the circumstances before us. It could well be the saving grace for our world's economy, not only to keep individuals safe throughout the world, but to help maintain operational continuity of important services our world economy relies on.
Automation technology might not be the singular solution, but it certainly is one that could boost and accelerate a recovery by any business willing to embrace it in times like these. However, the use of industrial protocols and control systems, working through IoT, is a way to accelerate the curve as many businesses struggle to maintain operations, and then dig out once the pandemic is behind us. It could help return a very sluggish economic climate to a robust one.
SmartSense is this leading provider of remote monitoring and automation solutions for industries such as healthcare, food services and supply chain.
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