Over the years, Information Communications Technology has completely revolutionised the world we live in. It impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives – from how we work and learn to how we communicate and socialise. It has become such an intrinsic part of modern-day society that it is easy to overlook the crucial role it plays.
Locating Within Today’s Landscape
The COVID-19 virus and the devastating effect it continues to have on all sectors of society (economic, health, education, business, social etc.) has completely shifted this paradigm. Many countries have been forced to enter a state of lockdown to curb its spread and it has become clear that Information Communications Technology is the only tool capable of sustaining a lockdown of this nature. Consequently, every sector of society is relying on it, now more than ever, to remain afloat.
Effect on Sectors of Society
Digital health solutions have played a fundamental role in the fight against COVID-19, with technology being used to track, test and treat the virus. In South Africa, contact tracing is being used to track and trace the virus in provinces that have been most affected. In addition, publicly accessible interactive dashboards are being used to track the number of COVID-19 infections, recoveries and fatalities in the country. These are just some of the ways Information Communications Technology has assisted the Government in making well-informed, data-driven decisions.
The effect on the economy has been dire, with many businesses being forced to close their doors indefinitely. ICT has become the primary enabler of economic activity, allowing many organisations and sectors to continue operations by means of eCommerce, online meetings and online marketing. Many organisations have turned to BI to improve their business model and recover from the negative effects the COVID-19 virus has had on their business. These companies are relying on data and analytics to manage supply chain issues, develop crisis management solutions and optimise costs and operations.
Educational institutions have also turned to Information Communications Technology in an effort to salvage the academic year. Learning has been able to continue via online classes, online course material, educational apps and social media and WhatsApp groups. Who would have thought classes like physical education could be offered online? This new way of learning has also revealed how crucial IT and computer skills are. One could even argue that they have joined the list of essential skills that everyone should possess.
Information Communications Technology has also served to reduce the negative effect the national lockdown could have on mental wellbeing, by providing a platform for social interaction and entertainment. It has made it possible for families and friends to say connected while adhering to lockdown rules. It has also made it possible for people to access cultural and entertainment content, and up-to-date and reliable COVID-19 information from the confines of their own homes. Online music concerts, online church services, online news sites, WhatsApp Messenger and social media groups are just some of the ways people are staying connected to the outside world.
The emergence of the COVID-19 virus has brought ICT’s critical role to the forefront, making it impossible to ignore. Information Communications Technology is now synonymous with access to information, education, job opportunities and much needed social interaction. In short, ICT is the key to any lockdown.