As we entered into a brand new year and a new decade, many people got excited about the possibilities 2020 promised. People chose new year’s resolutions like more travel, more savings, or learning new skills. Many businesses planned to start the new decade on the right foot, with detailed business plans and quarterly goals already estimated. No one could have expected that a couple of months later, the world would be on lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The novel coronavirus disease has forced health authorities and government officials to urge people into quarantine, allowing them to leave the safety of their homes under specific circumstances – purchasing essential items, work (if deemed essential workers), or seeking medical attention. With people only going out to get essential items and for work, the world comes to a standstill to ensure disease control and prevention. The severity and reach of the coronavirus pandemic have drastically changed our everyday lives. In the middle of all the chaos and confusion the virus brings, it seems that information technology has a crucial role in maintaining a sense of normality. We are going to look at the ways in which IT has helped us in tackling the disruption caused by COVID19.
What Is Information Technology?
In order to understand how information technology is helping us through the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to recognize what IT encompasses. Information technology (IT) is a broad field that covers all functions and processes relating to computers or technology in an organization or business. It is often used to refer to computers and networks, but it encompasses an enormous scope of work that handles technological problems in companies, institutions, or any other organizations that manage information. IT includes all aspects of sharing information over a variety of networks and the internet as a whole. These include physical hardware, operating systems, applications, storage, databases, servers e.t.c.
Information technology has gone through many breakthroughs and advancements over the last couple of years and has infiltrated every part of our daily lives. As it provides convenience and makes our lives easier, we find ourselves investing more resources into upgrading and keeping it around. This has definitely paid off during difficult times because it makes things much more manageable in times of crisis. Many people underestimate just how widespread information technology has become; this could be a simple case of growing accustomed to IT and everything it has to offer. These are the ways IT helps us during the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
One of the biggest fields that IT is making a difference during the COVID-19 pandemic is in health care. Technology has played a huge part in improving standards in world health organizations, hospitals, testing facilities, and laboratories. We often overlook just how widespread IT is in the medical field. Digital health has become an important part of the medical world and plays a vital role during these difficult times.
Modern hospitals and healthcare facilities have digital tools and information technology everywhere. In fact, it encompasses, everything from devices the that enable virtual care, which allows healthcare providers to monitor patients and communicate with any coronavirus disease patient 24/7 without being physically present, to the networks that store clinical data and enable institutions and professionals to quickly gain access and share patient data, test results, and other health information whenever needed.
Many overlook health information technology’s role in patient care, patient engagement, and even training for medical students. If you want to get an idea of how much technology plays a role in the health system, look at the videos that come out of hospitals during this outbreak. We tend to notice the health officials, heroic doctors, and nurses that put their lives on the line battling infectious diseases. We don’t instantly notice medical devices and apparatuses that utilize information technology to help medical professionals provide acute care for people in need. It is important that we acknowledge them as an important resource in battling the COVID-19 outbreak.
Finally, we need to mention how IT is proving to be extremely useful in helping people all around the world secure important resources. In a time when many clinical resources are becoming scarce, treating COVID-19 patients becomes increasingly difficult. Some of the most important resources related to keeping critical patients stable are ventilators. It is estimated that about 30% of patients that experience life-threatening COVID-19 symptoms will require mechanical ventilation to stay alive. With increasing numbers of patients, healthcare institutions are facing shortages. Many firms are coming together to work on effective and easy-to-make ventilators that will keep patients alive. They are using IT to share schematics and blueprints that enable institutions to create their own functioning ventilators.
Critical Role in Spreading Information
IT and digital technologies have enabled people to easily and quickly share information during the crisis. Healthcare organizations and governments are making use of information technology to improve public health by spreading news related to the COVID-19 virus to millions of people. Any breakthroughs, preventive measures, and medical advice that can help save lives are shared through networks and devices in a matter of seconds.
In fact, organizations like the WHO have created websites that offer rolling updates and top stories on the coronavirus. In addition to that, many organizations are streaming on social media in an attempt to inform people of the latest updates and information about the virus. They list preventive measures that people can take to stay safe, as well as statistics about the virus on a global level. Countries are doing the same thing, and providing region-specific information gives insight into population health and the measures that are being put into place to keep people safe during the COVID-19 spread. There are also dedicated lines that people can contact to get more information or report symptoms of the virus. These are all measures to track COVID-19 as it spreads around the world. This quick COVID-19 response was made possible with information technology.
The business world finds itself relying heavily on IT to keep critical operations and projects running smoothly. Everything from the supply chain to human resources was heavily affected by the virus. Companies need to get creative as they find themselves in the same situation. This means getting on top of business intelligence and creating a business continuity plan that is feasible and reliable. As business objectives change, managers must consider staff augmentation to make sure the companies have all their bases covered. All resources need to be realigned and focused on primary services and products that will keep the business afloat through the economic crisis. One of the biggest challenges is the mandatory work from home measures that companies are introducing.
The shift to remote working requires commitment and investment from everyone in the company. There is no saying how long these measures will last, and given the rate of change we see surrounding the COVID-19 situation, it is important to look at the long term. Once the decision has been made to transition to remote work, it is vital to fully commit. This goes for both employers and employees. Employers will need to ensure remote workers are on the same page and have the right technology and collaboration tools for reliable, scalable, and flexible work (connected information systems, cloud computing, communication apps, etc.). Employees will need to adjust to the new conditions and deliver their best to get the company through this pandemic.
As COVID-19 information spreads, people are going to go through various stages. At one point, people are going to become concerned, panicked, or scared. In order to keep people connected and working on the same page, proper communication must be established. Leaders need to understand their role in carrying people through this crisis. Employees will look up to managers to determine how they should react. If they are met with defeated looks and no information, they are likely to become disheartened and not perform well. Leaders need to take a proactive approach and communicate with stakeholders. These are some of the important things companies need to communicate:
- Communicate Proper Hygiene and Safety – Many businesses are taking the initiative and looking for ways to spread information about the pandemic. We have all seen how quickly information changes during the pandemic. Keeping up-to-date with information and making sure that employees are up-to-date with all the proper preventive measures, as well as the latest updates, will bring people together and make sure everyone in the organization is current regarding the news surrounding the pandemic.
- Communicate Company Policy – Everyone in the company must be aware of company policies during the crisis. New policies will likely emerge during the crisis. These policies will address relevant issues that stakeholders could face, and communicating them is of utmost importance during a crisis.
- Remote Work Protocols – As companies transition to remote work, it is essential that the company has remote protocols and online learning tools that the employees can follow and use when working from home.
- Impacts of Pandemic on Business – Many businesses are feeling the effects of this pandemic and the safety precautions being put into place. Some are being forced to shut down, while others find ways to get by and even thrive. Whatever the case is for your business, it is vital that you communicate that to all stakeholders. People need to know the state of the company they work for, as well as the steps it plans to take moving forward.
- Communicate on Business Projects – As people start working from home, the need for communication will grow dramatically. As each employee finds themselves working from the comforts of their own home, it is important to set up systems that will enable teams to work together and departments to communicate on bigger goals.
- Getting Back to Normal – While there is currently no certain information about the end of the coronavirus crisis, there will come a time when this eventually ends. Businesses need to be prepared for when that happens and communicate their plans to all stakeholders as things start going back to normal.
While many critical needs are being addressed during the pandemic, an important factor to keep in mind is education. The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many schools all over the world closing their doors to students. Education shapes us and plays a large role in the way we develop. If education is affected, it can have a detrimental impact on children and young adults who are looking to enhance their knowledge and quality of life.
The good news here is that this does not mean the end of education. Educational institutions are utilizing IT to create alternative learning pathways through digital technologies and online educator resources. Video calls, file sharing, remote access to a learning center, and platforms enable students and teachers of all age groups to cooperate and ensure that interruption to education is as limited as possible.
Many people focus on the health and economic effects of the pandemic, which is fair. After all, these are things that will affect our future. However, we tend to forget something that will affect us in the shorter term – the need for humans to stay connected. As social isolation measures and quarantines begin to take effect, many people will find themselves devoid of human contact for a certain period of time. Those lucky enough to share a home with family members or friends may still want to stay connected to other people. This is critical for good mental health. If we combine longer periods of isolation with the general stress of a crisis, we can see the effects it can have on a person’s well-being. Information technology plays a critical role in keeping us connected to those we hold dear.
While technology usually gets a bad rap for preventing socialization, it seems to be the thing we rely on to stay connected during the outbreak. Information technology has provided us with infrastructure and apps that allow us to keep in touch.
- Video and Audio Calls – The ability to see and hear people, regardless of our physical location, is all thanks to information technology. Numerous software and apps allow us to get into one-on-one calls or even group calls with family, friends, acquaintances, fellow employees, and anyone else we can call. This can allow us to destress, learn important news, and stay connected.
- Messaging – Video calls are not always the best form of communication. Sometimes we want to communicate without the hassle of getting on a call. Direct messaging enables us to communicate in real time without speaking.
- Sharing -There are certain times when words are not enough to convey a message. In these kinds of situations, we can share memories, songs, and events with people we care about. This enables us to share ideas, reminisce about old times, and dream about the future.
Whether we like it or not, we will eventually need to take some time to unwind and enjoy some entertainment. There is a limit to how productive we can be and how much we can tackle during the day. Being stuck indoors for long periods of time will require people to look for sources of entertainment. Information technology makes this task relatively easy. Not only does it enable us to connect with others, but it also provides countless sources of entertainment. These include:
There are countless video streaming websites on the internet. Popular ones like Netflix and Youtube have millions of visitors that kill time by watching movies, series, documentaries, or just random videos. These services enable us to tap into our imagination and go into scenarios and worlds that we could only imagine.
Another way that many people entertain themselves during quarantine is video games. Millions of people log into popular multiplayer games and work with friends to complete quests, battle rivalries, and kill a few hours in quarantine.
Bored with movies and games? Why not schedule a virtual visit to a museum? Many museums around the world have taken the initiative and created virtual tours that people can go on over the internet. All you have to do is visit a museum’s website and follow the steps required for the tour.
It is clear that information technology has played a huge role in making this global pandemic more bearable. Businesses and people have embraced everything it offers and utilizes it to maintain a sense of normality during these uncertain times. Technology has become a part of our daily lives. As it makes lives easier, it also makes us dependent on it for everyday activities. If you see the value in information technology and see it as a career choice that interests you, visit MyComputerCareer. We offer programs and services that will help you kickstart your IT career. After all, information technology is something we rely on constantly. Why not consider a career change to an industry that is here to stay.