IN the study of chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that reduces the activation energy required for a reaction to start, making it seem more vigorous. In our regular lives, some changes seem hard to start, but with the right motivation or catalyst, we may even surprise ourselves in the process. The global concern surrounding the current novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has had a significant impact on several spheres of activity so far, from travel, conducting meetings, and education. It even affects how we greet each other! Say goodbye to hugs, handshakes and kisses.
Based on the news from badly affected countries such as Italy, we observe the extensive actions applied to tackling the problem, where authorities have increasingly galvanised their efforts to contain the impact. When schools are shutdown, and entire towns placed under quarantine, we get some idea of the response required to maintain control.
The sobering reality of those working in ICT, is the continual outlook and focus on potential problems, with a view to solving them before they arrive at the desktop, or so to speak. In our interactions with government agencies, it is not uncommon to visit multiple windows to conduct a single transaction. Just ask someone who has visited the cargo shed to clear a barrel. The multi-step process, featuring different queues and paper exchange is truly worthy of study. Many agencies have similarly convoluted processes.
How do we protect ourselves from needless exposure to COVID-19 and the next disease waiting in the wings? This requires true creativity, and action before an outbreak forces a strong response. Perhaps some already announced initiatives need to be advanced, including:
1) Online payments and applications for government services;
2) Making e-learning and online classrooms a reality;
3) Setting up a ‘single window’ for conducting business transactions;
4) Replacing business travel with video conferencing tools;
5) Installing batwing doors to reduce the need to touch door handles.
The actions long talked about but not yet delivered, represent failed opportunities, especially if an outbreak forces our hand, and some unfortunate persons lose their lives in the process. Calibrating our response will be difficult, but adequately preparing for an outbreak, before we are affected, places us at a comparative advantage. The question is: are we ready to take action, previously thought difficult, before we lose much more in reacting to the problem after it arrives?
To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The Voice.
About the Author
Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant with a background in environmental and resource science. His expertise includes systems analysis, planning, and capacity building.