Letters', 'Online', 'Digital Economy', 'Coronavirus', 'Covid-19', 'Pendemic

Letters', 'Online'

Bracing for digital economy

The city of Wuhan, the first epicentre of the pandemic, which was under total lockdown for two months, is now slowly returning to normal.

7/4/2020 3:10:00 AM

NSTletters Many are now rethinking how the public health systems can be better prepared to face future disruptions. Businesses are revisiting their business models to be more pandemic neutral.

The city of Wuhan, the first epicentre of the pandemic, which was under total lockdown for two months, is now slowly returning to normal.

Many sectors are badly affected by the economic fallout from the virus. The travel and tourism industry are among those which are badly hit. Many airlines are now asking for bailouts to save jobs. Hotels are also clamouring for government support.Many are now rethinking how the public health systems can be better prepared to face future disruptions. Businesses are revisiting their business models to be more pandemic neutral.

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One sector which has also been badly shaken by Covid-19 is education. As a result of the lockdown measures, schools and universities are closed to break the chain of infections. The move is logical since schools and universities are synonymous with large crowds. The education sector therefore has to devise new ways to conduct learning to avoid mass gathering and close contact.

What has become evident in the few weeks of the lockdown is that many creative ideas have come out of the universities. The universities in the country have been especially active in trying out various e-learning platforms without compromising on quality.

Their efforts are commendable. Many believe, with the brief experience, digital learning may soon become a new norm for the education sector. The much talked about Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs), will soon become a reality.The retail business has also witnessed greater deployment of digitalisation. Housewives, who have been used to the traditional way of buying, now have to learn to shop online. In fact, some big supermarkets are even expanding their drive-through sale to avoid big crowds.

Even selling cars is now moving to the online platform. Meetings are also no longer business as usual, not just for the business community, but also for families separated by the Movement Control Order. Online seminars and conferences may now become more prevalent. Event companies may have to redesign their business models.

There is no doubt that the demand for better Internet capacity will see an increase in the coming days. Already, some are experiencing hiccups in the service as the usage increases. Whatever it is, the nation’s digital literacy has improved significantly. We are now more ready for the digital economy.

Few would dispute the fact that much of the digital transformation is driven by the handphone. In fact, many are already owning smart mobile phones, which make it even easier for people to embrace digital living.In some countries, smart phones have already been used by rural communities to support their farming business, especially marketing. Nevertheless, the rise in social media also has a share of the negative sides. Spreading fake news has become rampant at the time of the pandemic.

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This practice has created unnecessary panic among the communities. Cyber crimes are also on the rise. Internet scams are becoming more common. What is certain from such developments is that Covid-19 has spurred a digital transformation worldwide.PROFESSOR DATUK DR AHMAD IBRAHIM

Fellow, Academy of Science, UCSI University Read more: New Straits Times »

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