Digitization is the New Age Sanitation
Updated: May 15, 2020
Going back to history, disease outbreaks like Plagues and epidemics have ravaged humanity repeatedly, sometimes changing the course of history and at times, signaling the end of entire civilizations. One key observation being the frequency of these kind of pandemics increasing in recent times which might further increase in coming years looking at the trend of occurrence.
In last 500 years we have seen most of these as highlighted below (One can argue prior to that history might not have recorded all such instances). But if we zoom in further, the last 130 years we have observed approximately 22 million deaths* from these outbreaks — Spanish Flu: 1918–1920 Deaths 100000000, Flu pandemic: 1889–1890 Deaths 1000000, Asian Flu: 1957–1958 Deaths 1100000, American polio epidemic: 1916 Deaths 10000, H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic: 2009–2010 Deaths 500000, West African Ebola epidemic: 2014–2016 Deaths 11000, CORONA: 2020 Deaths 250000, which continues to increase day by day. (*The numbers are approximate and might not have covered all possible outbreaks happened during this period)
Major epidemics & pandemics from the history
So if there is some truth around this trend and chances of facing these outbreaks more frequently in coming years, it’s high time — we need to change the way we live, work & play. This article is a summary of what the world is experiencing in last few months and it’s upcoming impact on the daily life and business around us post this pandemic. Again this response might be a reactive vision looking at the COVID impact around us, but there are high chances many of the best practices we might adopt as part of this transition towards a Post COVID Sustainable Living. This will not stop man kind from another such devastation in future but it will definitely reduce it’s intensity or reduce the possibility of occurrence, until we see another virus of different nature with new medium of spread.
Boosting almost anything that can be done online or with minimal human contact — grocery deliveries, mainline education for higher degrees going online, food takeaway or delivery, streaming video, selling cars online or even real estate closings done with online notaries. Yes the world will move towards more & more of digitization reducing in person human interaction.
Telemedicine: Complete patient diagnostic, monitoring & consultation from patient resident to doctor’s home. This will be much more effective and will be trend or analytics based making the consultation very accurate towards the diseases & finding it early in its cycle improving the chances of cure. Think of the day where the wearable is collecting the patients vital signs, that gets analyzed and patterns stored against his/her ID. For any Doctor consultation which happens over a collaboration platform, Doctor checks all vital signs from the stored records, talks to the patient about the problem, asks to collect the blood sample using the smart test device and uploads for analyzing the results. With a wearable and smart test device, people can avoid going to hospital which is sometime the source of a disease transmission & saves time for both patient & doctor making the Doctors more productive.
Higher education from the top universities will be offering full time courses over online education platforms enabling students taking up courses without moving to different countries or cities for longer period of time. Of course it depends on the major, which some time requires physical presence for the research oriented work.
Last Mile Consumer Delivery will be more important for business covering most of the things an house hold needs. This will offer all type of deliveries and services directly to home minimizing the need of people traveling on road or visiting shopping malls & restaurants. Local stores and shops will convert to local warehouses or hub for storage & distribution hub. New last mile delivery players will be taking up this operating on fully digital platform.
Teleworking: Working remotely brings in next gen remote working collaboration platform. This may become a first spreading revolution similar to what we saw few years back companies going paperless. This is not new — but the whole solution need to scale up, accommodating more of real collaboration activities equivalent to what happens on board inside office rooms & with right set of experience. Without which there might be an impact to employee productivity & outcome.
Physical Touch less — the less the surface touch the better. At home or office or shopping mall, from lift button to switches to entry access all will be sooner or later — migrating towards functioning automatically with facial recognition or gestures & motion or voice command or mobile app.
Business becoming more local in stead of depending on cross border physical goods. This will lead to self sustaining model of states & countries where localization of production & assembly makes units still functioning within the boundaries on top of local supply chain, even during the lock down periods. These can be electronic goods & components, automobile components, medical equipment, lpg cylinders or simple businesses like iron pipe or sheet metal manufacturing — provided supply chain also runs with localization model.
Digital Check Gates: Isolating territories by blocking cross border movements has helped states controlling the virus spread and limiting within their territory as part of lock down. This could have been little relaxed with cross border check gates if would have been digitally enabled to start monitoring many more parameters of the people & goods crossing the border in stead of just the vehicle number tracking. Of course it has to be associated with a person’s digital health record history, but along with that live measurement of body temperature and other basic health parameters makes the movement little flexible. We saw many more cases during this lock down where people could not even attend the funerals of their direct relatives due to the inter state lock down in place.
Urban Space/City Design should start considering how to deal with these kind of outbreaks. Smart City Design always has to be always — Intersection of urban design with public health (https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/03/coronavirus-urban-planning-global-cities-infectious-disease/607603/). Full proof checking system in transits for goods & people to ensure all necessary tests are conducted. And in the subsequent steps or phases. Decentralize human density, better managing of supplies and services with digital infrastructure. It’s like urbanization of villages or rural areas and making each of them self sufficient to earn, live & generate products/revenue out of their skills & expertise with well connected digital supply chain.
Namaste is here to stay ? — Yes social distancing across everywhere through-out the day. Flight sitting to restaurant table & sitting arrangement to return of cubicle in office. All these will be reconsidered in coming months to ensure the spaces where we are going to spend time at are well organized keeping social distancing in mind.
Can we continue to keep less carbon emission after lock down opens developing a carbon neutral economy for future ? — the world always needs a combination of growing gross domestic product and same time falling carbon dioxide emissions. But historically we have always failed to do proper justification towards the “carbon dioxide emissions”. So need to find out a middle way here — can electricity sectors, marching towards electric vehicles, fossil fuel & renewable energy take us there? The positivity from the environment what we have seen in past months should we consider this lock down as a planned event each year for a month or so? Of course this need to be looked at and balanced out considering the loss a country goes through in a month’s lock down — but looking at the long term for the future of mankind’s safety it’s a good move to think of…
Digitization is the New Age Sanitation: So going digital at home or work or outside — it requires infrastructure upgrade for more stable and constant quality of service from the internet service providers across the globe. With digitization, QOS outside enterprises also is going to be important and there will be new players or existing ones will upgrade providing better quality & secured internet service even at home.
Streaming To Home: Everything that can be streamed will be streamed. Let it be a new movie release or a musical show or a theater play — media entertainment will be more live now on with a good segment of people avoiding to visit theaters or closed stadiums having huge mass. Events will have less physical attendance & home will slowly convert to offer theater like experience.
Dressing up — How frequently we’ll dress up and prepare ourselves to go out with this new normal. (I know some of you must be thinking its just a matter of few months and the whole life will be completely back to normal as it was before.. but remember the frequency of these pandemics & the loss of life we face each time.. So we’ll definitely see some changes towards our life style) If it is not very frequent going out to restaurants, business trips, launch events or movie theaters - what happens the look uplifting businesses like fashion textiles or perfumes or facial creams etc.. :) Yes Hi Fashion may see a downturn, whereas casual & comfort wear and make-ups may still continue.
With all these what happens to these high rise commercial complexes, super malls and upcoming huge business parks under construction..?? What happens to the commercial hubs or transit hubs — if the world does not return to the way it was operating before what happens to these hubs & big cities around the world? Will there be any visible impact other than reduction in commercial real estate price? I think it’s too early to predict & we’ll get to know more by coming year.
Travel & Tourism — how is it going to transform? Its going to be costly definitely considering aviation price hike and limited number of people at a time being allowed to travel within a premises to see things maintaining social distance. But will it open up opportunities for virtual tourism running on digital VR platforms.. may be a very small percentage of tourism customers might show interest provided the experience is awesome. But the real tourism to visit, see and experience places is definitely going to be costly in coming years & may get limited to local places staying within the boundary of the state or country..
Restaurants and Pubs — We’ll definitely see 20–30% restaurants run by small players will be shut down by the time we come out of this.. Restaurants will rework on their sitting facilities which will reduce their capacity, but same time there might be reduction in rent for commercial real estate which helps in accommodating the loss.. New concepts like cloud kitchen, takeaways, delivery to home will take off as more and more customers will prefer taking food at home in stead of restaurants. Additional checks and certifications may come for delivered foods to home that helps tracking the quality of the delivered food.
No more Closed Premises Gym? What happens to the organized or unorganized Private Gymnasium chains or of it’s kind if the new trend moves towards online fitness, yoga classes & open area gym & cycling. Will these industries survive by bringing in some innovations in these segments like re-organizing the place or equipment, gap between them or should these be positioned just for premium users who completely get assisted by coaches with guaranteed results, in stead of aiming towards volume user base ?
The new winners are like Gaming, Netflix or Prime providing digital entertainment direct to home— The video-game industry, which at $120 billion a year is bigger than the film and music industries combined, is booming, with tens of millions of players buying new distractions from Steam and other online storefronts. E-sports too, could benefit as sports consumers seek an alternative, with traditional leagues shuttered. New movie premiere will happen in Prime or Netflix kind of platforms in stead of movie theaters.
Event coordinators also need to migrate towards online well collaborated & coordinated event launch & hosting as one of their key operation like the grand physical events used to be.. This will also include virtual booths, talks in different rooms by different experts, making the platform interactive for remote users to properly interact and talk to the hosts. And running physical events slowly will require a lot of strict measures to be taken before, during and after the events with proper government approvals to ensure the event does not become a medium of spread to a big mass attending the event. Which in turn will increase the expense of running these events.
But the hard truth — with more & more of digitization it will slowly reduce the repetitive manual works across the industries, generating huge unemployment. And most of these might be low skilled workers, who might not get any other work if many of these new jobs slowly become high skilled and IT oriented. The number of poor people might increase in the society leading to a stage where poor becomes poorer and riches will be more rich over a period of time. This in-balance is very dangerous for the man kind and we need to think of how we maintain a balance to address this issue. So in parallel there has to be a collective support to up-skill and up-lift the lives of poor in the society to bring them to a level where they can align with this new age living standards.
This does not cover all possible transitions towards the new normal, which the society will be moving towards in coming years. And also all these are predictions based on the reading of past, which may change due to some other factors that has not been considered here. So looking forward to your inputs and opinions on what you think a significant change that we’ll see in coming months or years post this pandemic. And which ones you find the probability of happening more.