Our world has never faced a crisis of this magnitude before. A new virus COVID-19 has struck us unawares, late in 2019, and started spreading like wildfire. COVID-19 does not distinguish between size of the economy, the strength of its armed forces, the rich, the poor, or the race. The spread of the virus is beyond all borders, affecting millions of people across 200+ countries, forcing most of the population to go under lockdown and has so far caused an economic impact of over $9 trillion and counting. New cases are surfacing each day and mortality rate is also on the rise. Overall, this pandemic is causing a lot of emotional and economic distress globally. Our world grew familiar with measures to handle various disasters such as typhoons, floods, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and even bitter wars. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak, we find ourselves grappling to deal with the situation, not having the right tools and processes to handle the crisis. A new normal is being defined for governance, people to people interaction, travel, work environment, ways of working, and business operations.
Role of technology-enabled solutions in the war against COVID-19
We are seeing a proliferation of inventions happening around low-cost ventilators, personal protection equipment, sanitizing machines, robots, wearables, contact tracing applications, and command center.
On the contact tracing front, mobile applications based GPS, Bluetooth, or QR codes are being launched. These apps are capable of assessing individual risk based on location history and their exposure to infected subjects. These apps also act as a medium of communication between the government and citizens for effective monitoring and information dissemination. Apart from apps, wearables are also being considered to track individuals under quarantine, measure their temperature, check if social distancing is complied with or not, and other such requirements.
In the testing domain, rapid tests are conducted based on symptoms exhibited by the people and those with positive test results are further checked through high sensitivity confirmatory tests. Tracing, testing, treating is meticulously followed for effective control of the disease. The whole process needs to be well managed through integrated systems for better tracking and management. Data collected from studies can be used for determining who needs to be tested, especially when testing kits are scarce. There are solutions that help to detect the infection using chest X-rays such as HCLTech’s Diagnostic Decision Support for Medical (DDSM) imaging.
Command center is another key component in pandemic management. Thousands of agents are being staffed to perform contact identification, contact listing, and contact follow up. As the count of infected subjects increase, the demand for agents to support such contact centers is also expected to go up. Automation can help to improve coverage, reach, and better service to citizens.
Need for a holistic response
While we see a lot of innovations and actions happening around the world, it is understood that the efforts are fragmented and a holistic picture is missing. Across all the technology solutions, there are multiple touchpoints of different actors across various processes, generating large volumes of data. As these systems and processes are independently managed, it does not provide a holistic view of location data, testing data, pandemic spread patterns, identifying new hotspots, and quarantine compliance. A 360-degree analysis of the data is the key to strategize coordinated action across various agencies. There is a need to bring in various innovations in a cohesive way on a unified platform. The world needs a pandemic management platform that would:
- Bring in synergies across multiple agencies
- Integrate various tactical solutions lying in silos
- Have a 360-degree view of important actors, activities, and data across channels
- Have cross-channel reporting, tracking, and faster resolution through coordinated actions
HCLTech has envisioned a COVID-19 Pandemic Management Platform intended to manage the pandemic in an effective way for governments, healthcare agencies, smart cities, and enterprises. The platform has the capabilities to perform contact tracing (HCLTech OmniTrace app), location history management, individual, societal and enterprise risk assessment, bots for contact center automation, health assessments, knowledge mining and dissemination, quarantine enforcement, helpdesk data analysis, mass surveillance over the edge (from CCTV and drone feeds) for mask compliance, social distancing, temperature check, and diagnostic decision support for medical imaging (DDSM).
The platform also consists of a data lake and provides a suite of analytic simulation models, forecasting models, predictive models, and interactive dashboards for continuous monitoring, risk assessment, and decision making. The platform is built on a microservices-based architecture and uses Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, machine learning and graph-based technologies. Data security and privacy of individuals is ensured through appropriate level of data encryption, archiving, and purging policies. The platform is modular enough to cater to the different needs of governments, healthcare agencies, smart cities, and enterprises. A flexible and services-based architecture provides scope for adding new features or choosing only required features per industry needs.
For government and other public sector agencies, the Pandemic Management Platform (PMP) helps in the following ways:
- Systematic intervention to manage and govern in uncertain times
- Proactive care of citizens
- Effective utilization of limited resources through automation
- Monitor, track, and forecast various measures and metrics for better planning
- Bring in coordinated action across multiple stakeholders
In the coming months, when organizations prepare to bring millions of employees back to work, they would need to provide a safe and secure environment which instills confidence in their minds. A platform for pandemic management is the need of the hour, as it is:
- A key pillar of business continuity planning
- Essential to increase confidence in society, business owners, investors, partners, employees and customers to ensure an effective system in place
- Enhances risk management
- Ensures personal safety, safeguard against reputation loss, legal, and regulatory implications
Let’s break the chain of COVID-19 with the HCLTech Pandemic Management Platform.
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