Cities must build resilience and start preparing now for the next emergency
The world as a whole, and cities, in particular, must end “nothing can happen to us” mindsets and step up action around resilience in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, says ABI Research in a new whitepaper.
It lists investment in smart cities to support community resilience as one of the possible outcomes of the crisis and notes that the worldwide reaction to the pandemic will force companies to radically rethink how they operate and embrace technological investment.
The global tech market advisory firm has published a white paper Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets, which looks at the current and future ramifications of COVID-19 across technologies and verticals including smart cities, smart places and smart home as well as 5G core and edge networks, mobile networks, digital security and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Analysts also offer recommendations for weathering the storm and strategies to help organisations rebound and prosper after the pandemic has slowed.
In the longer term, technology will be a critical tool in the war against the unexpected.
The report states that bold decisions and technological investments could lead to outcomes such as:
- a more concerted and widespread move to lights-out manufacturing
- increased usage of autonomous materials handling and goods vehicles
- a more integrated, diverse and coordinated supply chain
- investment in smart cities to support community resilience
- a move to virtual workspaces and practices.
Smart city viewpoint
ABI says that from a smart city perspective, COVID-19 boils down to a discussion around urban resilience. In its previous 2019 report, Resilience Technologies and Approaches for Smart Cities; 5 Ways Smart Cities Are Getting Smarter, it highlighted that due to their high population concentrations, cities are vulnerable to predictable and unpredictable disasters and catastrophes, including diseases and epidemics. And as well as loss of life, such events can cause loss of economic output and value.
Cities have become acutely aware of this, and some have already appointed chief resilience officers responsible for cross-departmental risk assessment, organisation of readiness and preparedness, and putting in place technology-enabled manual and automated response management.
As it relates to healthcare, ABI Research highlights decentralised home-based and remote healthcare capabilities, redundant and back-up hospital infrastructure, and drone-based delivery of medicines as key examples of using technology.
“We can be sure about one thing: other disasters are waiting in the wings to happen. The preparation for the next emergency has to start today.”
It highlights how China effectively deployed drones to transport medical samples and quarantine materials between hospitals, reducing the risk of contamination. China obviously also had plans in place to rapidly build additional hospital capacity to cope with emergencies like COVID-19.
“However, despite these positive examples, the overwhelming conclusion must be that cities and, by extension, countries were woefully unprepared for epidemics like COVID-19. In many cases, even the most basic guidelines on how to minimise the risk of contamination were lacking,” states the report.
ABI continues: “To date, cities, countries and even the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to improvise and decide on the fly how to cope with the rapidly spreading virus, resulting in disjointed and inconsistent measures varying widely between countries and regions. Stocks of face masks were largely insufficient. Hospitals had to very creative to cope with the exploding streams of patients.”
Short- and long-term impact for cities
The report lists the short and long-term impact for smart cities. It believes key lessons will be learned from COVID-19 in the short-term.
“The world as a whole and cities, in particular, will finally lose their “naïve nothing can happen to us” beliefs and adopt more responsible attitudes toward resilience. We can be sure about one thing: other disasters are waiting in the wings to happen. The preparation for the next emergency has to start today.”
“To date, cities, countries and even the European Union and the World Health Organisation continue to improvise and decide on the fly how to cope with the rapidly spreading virus.”
In the longer term, it says the good news is that technology will be a critical tool in “the war against the unexpected”.
Leveraging robotics for the delivery of goods and transportation of people, tapping into the sharing economy to liberate additional capacity for housing, mobility and freight during emergencies, building automated and flexible production lines and supply chains allowing scalability and regional independence, and massively deploying online and remote capabilities for education, healthcare meetings and entertainment will go a long way to being better prepared for disasters, the report says.
Download the whitepaper Taking Stock of COVID-19: The Short- and Long-Term Ramifications on Technology and End Markets.
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