Technology the key to rebuilding economies and international cooperation

Learning from the pandemic to improve performance of ICT infrastructure to address future risks
Huawei's Na Ran (Image: Huawei)

18 May 2020

In association with Huawei

In the last centuries, globalisation brought us substantial progress in many sectors. Global trade increased the material prosperity of people all over the world, with developing and emerging countries becoming increasingly important as trading partners and potential sales markets. Globalisation strengthened economies and improved living conditions across the globe. Thanks to globalisation and an ever more connected world, consumers are now able to choose from an unprecedented variety of products from a global market.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has hit global markets hard, weakening international trade and cooperation, accelerating tendencies of protectionism and nationalism, which had been already on the rise. The pandemic has had a huge impact on global value chains – instead of proximity and efficiency, distance and security are the new order of the day. Companies cut supply chains and relocate factories. Governments seal off their economies and hoard vital products. While the trade conflict between the US and China has been dominating international trade in 2019, the current crisis has led to an increase in “economic distancing”. This trend endangers economic welfare around the world.




Rebuilding a strong economy on technology

But what can be done to oppose these tendencies, to put an end to the tearing-apart of economies, health systems and societies? Technology will help getting globalisation back on track.

Key industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, public services, retail, transportation, food supply, tourism, media and entertainment are hit hard by the pandemic and are calling for undivided information and interconnected communication technology. We live in the information age and everyone should have access to the economical and medical benefits of information technology. The economic benefits are extensive – from innovative means of production to fast communications through excellent network connections. Technology has been and will continue to be essential in supporting medical personnel during the COVID-19 crisis. The current situation improved significantly through the development and use of AI-assisted diagnostics, innovative treatment of the symptoms of the disease, and facilitating social distancing to prevent new infections.

The Coronavirus has been spreading quickly: China, the US, and especially Europe, have suffered many losses. To date, this fight against the virus is still a tough one, impacting the well-being of everyone on this planet. The virus knows no borders and has impacted every corner of the world. Rebuilding economic ties and trusted cooperation will soon be the top priority, everywhere.  

“We firmly stand by our European partners and will support them by any means to win the fight against this virus,” Na Ran, Huawei

The Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, just recently pointed out in his speech to the nation that the world after COVID-19 will be a different one: “What will it be like? It is up to us. Let us learn from the experiences, the good and bad ones, that we all make every day in this crisis. Do we look for the way out together in the world or do we fall back into isolation and walking the path alone? Let us share all knowledge, all research, so that we can obtain vaccines and therapies more quickly, and let us, in a global alliance, ensure that the poorest countries, which are most vulnerable, also have access. […] We do not want to become an anxious or distrustful society. We can be a society with more trust, more consideration and more confidence.”

Huawei has been a strong presence in Europe for 20 years and is confident and able to fight together with Europeans against the pandemic. Today, we employ over 13,300 people in Europe, running two regional offices and 23 research and development sites. We firmly stand by our European partners and will support them by any means to win the fight against this virus.

First and foremost, ICT infrastructure is the foundation of the digital world, and digital technology supported by ICT infrastructure is the cornerstone to fighting the pandemic. Digital technologies such as big data, AI, and cloud computing supported by ICT networks are crucial to monitor and analyse the pandemic, track the virus, prevent and control the pandemic, treat patients, and allocate resources. In addition to assisting the fight against the pandemic, these digital technologies have also been applied in other areas, such as helping businesses tackle their problems and safeguarding normal social activities.

Secondly, digital technologies supported by ICT infrastructure are helping social activities continue during the pandemic. One of the main characteristics of this global public health crisis is that it most affects offline life. Offline businesses suffer the most from measures such as staying at home and “social distancing”. Impressive amounts of social and economic activities have gone online. Businesses were forced to close their doors and students had to stay home from school. But networks put people back to work and school, which leads to surging demand for online office and learning applications. The pandemic has suspended many offline activities, but people are living it up online.

The current crisis is accelerating the digitisation of thousands of industries. Its impact on networks also allows global operators to consider and plan future-oriented network evolution from a new perspective. Network evolutions like 5G and gigabit optical networks can provide high-performance and widespread broadband services for individuals, families, and enterprises, and they support ubiquitous connections for everyone’s work and personal lives. They will foster the digital transformation of traditional industries for a more robust digital economy.

Simplifying network architecture, devices, and deployment can accelerate the expansion, upgrading, and deployment of networks such as 5G. We should learn from this Coronavirus pandemic and improve the performance of the existing ICT infrastructure to address any possible future risks more effectively.

Governments and regulators can help by developing policies and measures that facilitate rapid expansion of and upgrades to ICT infrastructure. Huawei is ready to help through developing different technologies. In one of our innovative projects, we are working together with Yitu technologies to make a “Smart Pneumonia Analyses” platform available to all hospitals that request it. This platform is able to calculate the probability that a patient has COVID-19-pneumonia with the help of CT scans and artificial intelligence and would unburden medical personnel.

Supporting a connected world

Countries and governments must connect and work together to recover from the pandemic and save the life of many. The best way to communicate between continents is to use advanced technical devices and a fast internet connection.

At Huawei, we do not only develop technical devices for communication and to support medical personnel during the Coronavirus crisis. We are also building fast and reliable networks with all major European operators to secure connections when pressure is high. It is our strong belief that we should all continue working together to build network technologies in a way that ensures trust, security, safety, and protection of fundamental rights. We put our confidence in connected technology to support people all over the world during crisis.

Na Ran is chief marketing officer, Western Europe, for Huawei Technologies

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