The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, unlike anything we’ve seen in over a hundred years since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. The global impact on every aspect of our lives has been unprecedented, from economic upheaval to the overwhelming stress on health care systems and everything in between.
COVID-19’s impact on the global consciousness will shape the way policy is crafted and avenues explored for research for years to come. However, as we approach the two-year mark of living in the shadow of COVID-19, we already see concrete examples of how the pandemic has affected technological advancement.
The impact or role that COVID-19 plays in shaping technological advancement is not an isolated occurrence, as similar examples dot our collective history.
The crises of the 20th century played significant roles in how technology advanced. The Spanish Flu pandemic pushed the understanding of medicine at an unprecedented rate. The World Wars, terrible as they were, gave us the technologies and technological bases for many things that are commonplace today.
As stated earlier, there are many examples of how COVID-19 has played a role in technological advancements and how they are being implemented to cater to the new reality.
Technological Advancements Due to COVID-19
Adversity brings about innovation, for need is the mother of invention. Some examples are new innovations; others were already in development, but COVID-19 expedited their race to implementation.
No blog, discussion, or paper on the impact of COVID-19 can be complete without the way vaccine development, testing and implementation happened during the past two years. Vaccine development is a long and fraught process that is more likely to fail than succeed. However, new protocols, unprecedented parallel research systems, and developmental cycles led to the development and deployment of multiple vaccines worldwide.
COVID-19 pushed the world towards total digitalization as expansion and upgrading happened of existing remote work and communication networks. Businesses fueled the unprecedented development of e-commerce solutions all across the globe because of COVID-19. Contactless payment solutions became the norm in various countries as compared to a new technological novelty. The way we do business has changed and will continue to change for years to come as the pandemic runs its course.
The digital revolution has not been limited to e-commerce only. Education is another sector where COVID-19 has actively shaped the way people are learning and teaching. Educational institutions had to adapt to remote learning, and new solutions were developed, allowing for a more interactive learning experience online.
Surveillance and remote sensing tech went into new avenues as the need for active monitoring of the general health of citizens became apparent. Remote sensing to help avoid or reduce the amount of contact between people so that the spread could be slowed down. Tele-medicine saw a boon as lockdowns meant sound medical advice became harder to find.
Manufacturing, especially 3D printing, became more viable largely due to the needs created by the pandemic. The spread of 3D printing allowed governments and healthcare systems to address shortages. The world saw everything from 3D printed face masks and shields to isolation wards to ventilator valves. The designs were shared as open-source, and any 3D printer could print the requisite component or product as long as they had the design.
COVID-19 has played a significant role in which avenues were explored for technological advancement in the last two years. However, no single industry was unaffected by the impact of the pandemic.
And yes, these have been trying years; however, while the world is in lockdown, innovation is proceeding at unprecedented rates. COVID-19 will continue to play its role as the instigator of the crises driving innovation forward, and we are, and we will see the results in the future. The same way we saw the results of innovation in crises in penicillin, computers, spaceflight, and more in the past.