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Is ICT Technology keeping its promise as pandemic hits the world?

 
By Roula Tayan; Head of IT at Ericson Middle East
 
 
 
As the world faces an unprecedented crisis in the form of Coronavirus COVID-19,
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is playing a critical role in bringing
people together while social distancing is being practiced across the world. More than ever,
information, unified collaboration, and telecommunication including mobile networks form
a critical backbone that enables families, health workers, public safety officials, education
institutions and critical businesses to stay connected during this global crisis.
 
 
 
ICT at this time is an open ecosystem that empowers and accelerates the ambitions of all
those who meaningfully engage with it. The potential for ICT in connecting people and
sharing knowledge instantly during crisis is game-changing and universal. It is also
transforming many social and economic aspects of our lives, such as education, healthcare,
business and professional development.
 
 
 
As educational institutions quickly pivot toward online learning, both students and teachers
have found great value in the use of digital tools and connectivity. During this time, service
providers are enabling customers to access learning environments over the cloud
throughout the duration of the closed schooling period. The use of mobile technologies in
distance e-learning enables students and faculty in dispersed locations to access video,
audio and text-based course materials and actively engage in online discussion forums and
real time virtual classrooms.
 
 
 
ICT is also profoundly changing our cultural experience during these challenging times, not
only in terms of new technology-based access, production and dissemination, but also in
terms of participation and creation, and learning and partaking in a knowledge society.
More than 2,000 world-class museums and galleries are now creatively offering virtual
tours and online exhibitions in an attempt to keep their audience connected from the
comfort of their homes.
 
 
 
Many business organizations have taken a precautionary approach to limit the spread of COVID 19 by advising their employees to work from home. Some Gulf states are unblocking previously blocked conferencing and collaboration tools to help companies and schools carry out remote meetings and virtual classes effectively. The unprecedented scale for concurrent remote access to IT platforms is putting a strain on the organizations’ IT infrastructure as well as fixed and mobile communication providers. IT departments are busy scaling their gateway networks and cloud computing systems to make sure home workers can receive and send emails, access company data, participate in audio and video conferences, and collaborate effectively.
 
 
 
Ericsson is committed to stay close to its customers during these challenging times and help them provide the best possible connectivity and network quality. Ericsson engineers and staff are working to keep the networks up and running. Through our partnerships, we have demonstrated the powerful role ICT can play in transforming societies as well as humanitarian response by creating long-term solutions that support both efficiency and efficacy.
 
 
 
A key consideration is knowing what technology to leverage and how to best make use of equipment, data and partners. In addition to providing the basic connectivity, we are also exploring how we might implement services such as automation and data analytics to improve resilience and crisis response in the future. Network traffic data can be an important source of near real-time data on human mobility during an emergency; for example, we know that more network traffic routed to residential areas as opposed to city centers, malls and business hubs.
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