As the world looks to establish a “new normal” amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, information and communication technologies (ICT) are coming to the fore in Bahrain as critical tools in protecting public health and in realizing socio-economic stability. Understanding this digital shift is important to both businesses and government authorities as they seek new ways to confront the challenges posed by the pandemic.
The reality is that everyone from healthcare providers to educators, retailers, manufacturers, and others are being affected by COVID-19. Nearly every industry in the Kingdom is having to rethink how it does business and delivers value. That pivot requires new tools for success. Many of those are founded on digital platforms that not only enable work to be done as people are physically separated, but which enable faster, more intelligent decision making.
Over the last few months, we’ve identified some of the most important technologies that will play a role in this fight against COVID-19. New applications of artificial intelligence (AI) are, for example, being used to aid the many scientists and medical experts who are searching for a vaccine and treatments. Smarter collaboration tools are assisting teachers and students across Bahrain to stay connected, and for future generations not to fall behind in today’s knowledge economy. Advanced cameras and analytics systems are helping government authorities to monitor public spaces and even conduct remote testing, protecting community wellbeing in the process.
None of these scenarios would be possible without a robust ICT ecosystem. The applications of AI, cloud computing, and big data happening in the Kingdom today are proving just how valuable technology collaborations can be when done in an open framework. In particular, the country’s investments in 5G infrastructure are proving extremely beneficial in providing the increased bandwidth needed for the digital tools now being used in consideration of COVID-19.
That open and cooperative ecosystem is the absolute foundation for addressing COVID-19 challenges. Every sector of the economy now faces its own unique challenges and needs its own dedicated solutions. No single country or company can create all of these solutions by acting alone.
The fight against COVID-19 thus requires the sharing of expertise like never before, particularly in the technology field. That exchange of ideas and technologies can be seen in collaborations like those between Batelco, INJAZ and Huawei earlier this year to significantly improve Wi-Fi coverage and support distance learning. By leveraging our collective strengths and recognizing the lessons learned to date, Bahrain’s ICT community can better design the systems that communities and businesses need to tackle this emergency together.