India’s COVID-19 lockdown caters to critical aspects of an effective response system for a pandemic. Social distancing aims to significantly slow down the spread while the health care systems prepare response units that are trained to take quick action in identifying and containing outbreaks before they spread. The last few days witnessed ramped up production of necessary personal protective and critical care equipment, diagnostic kits, and innovative technologies.
We do not know exactly what the new normal in the post-lockdown world will look like. But we can imagine a future that will involve some dramatic changes in our daily lives. The coronavirus response may well be integrated with all aspects of our lives.
Will blockchain assist medicine traceability?
You got your monthly supplies of prescribed medicines. How about going online and checking the authenticity of medicines and tracking how they reached you? The immediate need for efficiency and transparency in drug supply chains can usher in the use of blockchain assisted technologies that create a collaborative ecosystem, controlling the menace of counterfeit drugs. These technologies can unlock significant value in streamlining medical supply chains through tracking supplies and managing medical data.
Smart Public Distribution Systems?
As the pandemic hit, governments across the world realized that like all disasters, the poorer strata of the society will be the worst hit. To mitigate the worse, they channeled ways to distribute essentials and offer assistance. In a future where we live in a semi-pandemic state, the need for automation and accountability of Public Distribution Systems will press hard, calling for an integrated end-to-end web application leveraging blockchain with features to undertake all kinds of transactions from registration of new users to disbursement.
Back to school without friends?
The schools may incorporate staggered schedules spread throughout the day. Classes may be held in batches with a few grades attending schools during mornings while others during evenings. Physical education, recess, and sports activities may lose their regular status in class schedules. Schools and other public places will witness thorough sanitation efforts. With schools moving to a hybrid physical and virtual education model, technologies that support schedule management to the seamless transition between physical and virtual lessons will gain traction.
Restaurant entry with green risk code?
Thermal scanners checking people as they carry on their day-to-day tasks are not far in the imagination. What if everyone had a color-coded risk score? The score can be a cumulative indicator of whether the person has encountered high-risk individuals (people-tracking will be real), symptomatic indications of risk, or undergone the compulsory bi-weekly diagnostic test, etc. Technology companies may be busy devising a privacy-protected indicator that can be used as a requirement to large crowd events such as working from an office, dining, flying, viewing a sporting event, and many more.
Another crucial feature of the new normal will be an expanded role for governments. We can expect a considerable socio-economic restructuring. Governments will call the shots in how businesses operate. Through everything, technological innovation will continue to add value, and the contribution of knowledge to tide the pandemic wave will remain undiminished. For talented technologists and innovators, the next few months will prove a fruitful opportunity as public and private players seek technology to define the way we live.
As the immediate perils of coronavirus ease, governments will start the recovery process, shifting their focus on economic recovery. Public institutions will witness returning to older ways with fewer unilateral executive response systems. The governments may shift to quick action mode while short-cutting traditional processes. The recovery phase should also consider long-term improvements to public services, making them more futuristic through digitization and automation. Old ways of operations will invite a tough look, with technologies proven effective in ensuring remote operations becoming a significant part of the new normal.
Disclaimer: The views of the author are personal. They are not suggestive of any past or future actions of the government/ PSU/ private body. The article indicates an imaginary take on the future.