By Jason Robert Rameshwar, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago
The need for social distancing, mask wearing, touchless systems, and reliable ICT infrastructures are critical during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Caribbean. Manual systems, such as user-activated thermal sensors or hand sanitizer dispensers, or even the use of security guards to enforce social distancing and mask wearing, are not enough in enclosed retail buildings.
Industry 4.0 enabling technologies such as machine learning, smart sensors, cloud computing, data mining, big data analytics, and IoT are better tools to facilitate the health, safety, and privacy needs of the current situation. These include:
- Vision systems for monitoring hand washing/hand sanitizing
- Visible status indicators mounted on buildings activated via phone application
- Thermal cameras and microphones that detect temperature, coughs/sneezes
IoT sensors - External mounted camera, microphone, and status indicator
Digital transformation can reduce human interaction and error, help maintain required health protocols, and change parameters of health protocol triggers via software, among other benefits. It can also spur additional digital transformation opportunities. An IoT system that monitors key performance indicators (KPIs), and deviations can trigger a replacement or repair action − commonplace within a maintenance framework. The use of an IoT system to monitor energy or to measure an individual’s temperature, can evolve to increase the quantity and variety of IoT sensors in a business. Data analytics can provide insights into a system’s behaviour, which can then be developed into new digital transformation opportunities and KPIs.
In the Caribbean, COVID-19 is accelerating digital transformation for new and existing businesses. To learn more about digital transformation strategies in the Caribbean, read the article in the November 2020 edition of the Journal of Innovation.