Though the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is still being unraveled, it is clear that the technology industry will undergo major changes in response to this crisis. These changes are being pushed in order to help preserve workplace collaboration and community spirit while many people are forced to stay in their homes.
Bandwidth To Be Strategically Allocated In The Wake Of Mass Internet Usage
Since many people are confined to their homes, the internet has become the setting in which their daily routines are carried out. From work to entertainment and social activities, a huge portion of people’s lives has shifted online. Video content streaming across services such as YouTube, Netflix, and Apple TV has been limited to 720p as part of an emergency executive order.
Core business operations like video conferencing are to be given priority during active hours when it comes to bandwidth allocation. Also high on the priority list are essential services such as law enforcement, government, and news providers. These emergency measures do end up opposing net neutrality. However, they are necessary during this crisis.
Edge caching and content delivery networks (CDNs) can help allocate bandwidth, but telecommunication networks have yet to take into account the amount of people confined to their homes for long periods when testing their network capacity. The use of distributed content caching and peered content using local storage on devices can help mitigate this issue, as it has already done with the likes of BitTorrent and Apple TV.
Increase In Furniture And Hardware Sales
Laptops and desktops, as well as equipment like printers and scanners, will see increasing sales as the pandemic goes on. Many people were scrambling to buy them at the start of the lockdown, and this trend won’t die off any time soon. These devices are a must-have for people who have no choice but to work from home.
Aside from technology, office furniture like desks and chairs are hot items as many people are preparing for a future in which remote work is the norm. Retail giants like IKEA are likely to see huge profits from this influx of officeware demand.
Food And Retail Distribution Will Be Centralized
Since many people are forced to stay in their homes, it can be assumed that the delivery of food and other perishables will be increasingly important. However, large-scale and long-term food delivery isn’t economically viable. Now that the majority of restaurants have been forced to shut down in order to halt the spread of the virus, a centralized or consolidated way of distributing food and other goods is necessary, especially in large population areas.
Aside from local delivery services, drive-in pickup centers for groceries and cooked food from “ghost kitchens” will be necessary. Restaurants may also have to adapt and retrofit their layouts to accommodate the new service standards. This ensures that there is minimal contact between the customers and sellers. More importantly, fast food companies like Burger King and McDonald’s may be forced to sell more nutritious meals in order to keep pace with large-scale prep centers.
Telehealth Services Will Rise In Demand
While the outbreak has forced most people to stay inside their homes, doctors have been working around the clock in hospitals. Telehealth services are being developed to allow virtual doctor visits. This means that doctors can track their patients remotely, which frees up some capacity in hospitals. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission is using $200 million from the coronavirus stimulus package to finance an emergency telehealth program. According to Commissioner Brendan Carr, the FCC’s action is similar to “jumping from Blockbuster to Netflix.”
Connected health devices such as wearable health trackers and wireless movement-monitoring systems will see increased usage by nursing homes and households that have members with specific health needs. Kinsa’s Wi-Fi thermometer and the Apple Watch are some examples of must-have devices.
Increasing Privacy And Logistical Concerns For The Sake Of Social Distancing
Due to the need for contact tracing and social distancing, privacy concerns about revealing our locations will have to take a backseat when it comes to the delivery of goods and services. In the US, Google and Facebook are already cooperating with the federal government when it comes to the usage of smartphones and private location data. Meanwhile, smaller companies are researching how to improve location-tracking technology.
To aid in social distancing, maps and other tracking applications may be repurposed to minimize crowds while logistical infrastructure remains intact. This will allow for goods and services to be distributed without people having to make physical contact. Real-time data from smartphones, wearable devices, and vehicles are the most important resources in making all of this possible.
However, privacy isn’t going to completely go away as teams consisting of epidemiologists, engineers, data scientists, digital privacy advocates, and academics, such as those from MIT and Harvard, are working to create new apps that maintain privacy while being able to track the location of users.