COVID-19 began to get International attention in late December 2019 and was later declared a Pandemic in early March 2020. Following the announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the Pandemic status of the virus, mass change and adaptation began across many countries worldwide. Countries around the world spent the past few months on efforts to curb the spread, or as the medical professionals called it “flattening the curve.”
The efforts to limit the spread of the virus were all rooted in the concept of “Social Distancing” and the reduction of congregating in public places etc. The public was asked and, in some countries, mandated to limit their movements and stay indoors. A major factor in the success of this strategy was for businesses, government offices, and all non-essential organizations to close their doors and employ strategies to facilitate remote work or the remote delivery of their services. This global situation and drive for survival forced a Shift that the world has never experienced, at least in my lifetime. I have never seen such a rapid adaptation of technology both at the business and individual levels.
With Social Distancing and Shelter in Place as the new order of the day globally, some businesses scrambled to put the necessary technological strategies in place. Some of them already employed the right platforms and it was an easy transition to a virtual environment. Regardless of whether the solutions existed or were implemented because of COVID-19; I think that we can agree that the majority, if not all the digital strategies employed during the Pandemic used Wi-Fi technology as the main mechanism for delivery. Let us discuss a few of them:
- Work from Home – by far the most popular of the strategies used was the displacement of workers from within the confines of the walls of the Enterprise to the that of their own residences. Many organizations heeded the call by Governments worldwide to transition where possible, to remote working. This allowed for a drastic reduction in the number of persons exposed to risk due to commute, contact and other variables. A critical success factor of this strategy was the ability for the remote users to connect to the networks / information and platforms necessary to deliver their respective services. Wi-Fi technology would have been the means used in most cases to connect these users from their homes or wherever they sat.
- Video Conferencing / Online Meetings – we have seen the surge in use of a plethora of video conferencing and remote collaboration applications. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx were just a few of the platforms heavily used by the remote workforce. With many of these users working from home; the connectivity at the edge in most cases would have been facilitated by Wi-Fi.
- E-Learning & The Virtual Classroom – schools were a major risk in terms of potentially increasing the spread of the virus. Many Schools globally were closed, forcing the rapid adaptation of technological alternatives to continue tutoring the kids. Though this may still be a work in progress for some schools, many of them would have introduced online platforms to their students. The classroom or should I say Virtual Classroom shifted like the office to the home. Teachers delivered content using platforms for example Edmodo, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, and many others, to students all over the world. In many instances, the connectivity of both the students and teachers would have been facilitated by Wi-Fi.
- Remote Component Monitoring / Management – Oil & Gas Sector – the Internet of Things (IOT) technology has been emerging worldwide as a major tool in the enhancement of operational efficiency, customer experience and revenue generation. IoT (Internet of Things) is also being used to reduce the need for human intervention in various applications that can be dangerous or of elevated risk. The Oil and Gas Industry has been one of the sectors that turned to IoT (Internet of Things) to help the reduction of the need for physical resources on site to manage and check certain devices. During the Pandemic, this was a strategy used by some organizations within this space. Critical deices that were traditionally checked by humans physically being on-site were checked remotely. This reduced and, in some cases, removed the need for staff on-site and exposed to risk. IoT (Internet of Things) devices use a combination of Wi-Fi and Non-Wi-Fi technologies depending on the application, for example Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), ZigBee and others.
I am sure that we can sit down and produce many more practical scenarios where Wi-Fi technology was used to either mitigate risk or as part of a key strategy in the fight against COVID-19. The simple truth is that this technology is a part of our lives and there will continue to be more applications for its use, especially as it relates to supporting mobility and convenience of connectivity. We will discuss this and more scenarios on Thursday May 7th 2:00 PM at PIVOT – The Virtual Event. We will present alongside our Partners and Wi-Fi experts from CommScope / Ruckus. Register now for PIVOT at this link PIVOT – The Virtual Event – Wi-Fi Enabling The New Normal to reserve your spot as soon as possible.