Technology in the COVID-19 Era: Making People Safer, Customers Happier and Spaces Healthier

There’s no doubt that the way we work has changed considerably over the past six months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic with thousands of non-essential workers shifting to working from home. At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted who can and can’t work from home. While the bulk of professionals who can carry out their jobs on computers can work from home, employees in essential and service industries such as healthcare, education, retail and manufacturing continue to go into their places of work every day. With a vaccination for the entire U.S. population not expected until mid-to-late 2021 and businesses needing to maintain operations and survive the economic downturn, many are now bringing workers back, opening their doors to consumers and implementing new digital solutions that allow them to continue serving their customers.

On-Site Building Strategies

Companies needing to open their doors are implementing social distancing, staggered hours, hand washing and mask wearing to help prevent virus spread. Unfortunately, these behavioral policies and procedures rely on the diligence and willingness of people to comply and simply may not be enough to ensure clean, safe working environments. As a result, some are turning to inconspicuous, non-invasive technologies to curb the spread and enable transmission-reduction strategies.

Smart building technologies like thermal imaging to measure body temperature and touchless controls are being integrated into surveillance and access control systems. For example, cameras with infrared technology are capable of measuring body temperature and triggering a notification by sending images of those people to security staff. Ultraviolet (UV-C) light technology is also being explored as a way to disinfect spaces and frequently-touched surfaces. In fact, smart building innovators have already launched technologies that integrate UV-C lighting into existing PoE-based lighting platforms with IoT controls and are now looking at integrating other sensor-based disinfection systems.

Occupancy sensing technologies are also now being leveraged for crowd control as they have the ability to determine the number of people within a given space. Through IP-based networking, these systems can provide the data for consumers to avoid high-risk areas and facilities managers to reconfigure spaces for social distancing.

Remote Mobile and Virtual Innovation

In addition to in-building technologies, many enterprise businesses are implementing technologies that help reduce spared via rapid case identification and strong public communication. Nowhere is this more evident than on university campuses where some have integrated advanced data analytics, smartphone apps and weekly testing results to support contact tracing, real-time reporting and notification.

Some municipalities and governments are deploying similar strategies to support a public-health response, leveraging billions of mobile phones, massive geo-location datasets and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence. These technologies aren’t exactly new (it’s the same type of technology that digital marketers use to identify and advertise to potential customers) but it’s now being used in a different way and driving further technological advancements—everything from new websites that allow users to check if there are known coronavirus cases in the vicinity, to public health agencies pushing out text messages to those who may have been exposed and designating risk based on a person’s health status and travel history.

While some are looking to new technologies to help reduce the spread of virus, more are implementing solutions that allow them to continue servicing their customers. Everything from enhanced telemedicine, online learning and gaming, to immersive virtual reality experiences for e-commerce, entertainment, real estate and even travel.

It All Needs the Right Infrastructure

Whether it’s connecting advanced IP-based devices at the edge of the network, enhancing Wi-Fi and cellular service, or needing to transmit, process and analyze more data, all of these new digital technologies need high-performance, secure and reliable network infrastructure. And while some of these new technologies may be temporary, many aimed at helping us get back to a sense of being normal will provide ongoing benefits and will remain permanent long after the threat of the virus has disappeared.

So, if you’re deploying or upgrading network infrastructure, it simply makes sense to plan for ongoing support for emerging and future technologies to avoid costly, disruptive rework in the future. In that vein, the design and deployment of structured cabling systems and wireless technologies like distributed antenna systems should be based on forward-thinking strategy that considers future needs, optimizes performance and enables resilience for change. That means designing functional pathways and spaces for growth and efficiency, choosing the best supporting cable media and identifying the right application and network equipment. And it all needs to be deployed cost-effectively, on time and with minimal risk.

From strategic consulting and project management to design and engineering, we are here to help you navigate these new innovations and deploy the right supporting technology that will help make people safer, customers happier and spaces healthier.