Preparing for third wave of Covid-19

There was a panel discussion on preparing for the third wave of Covid-19 at the ongoing Dataquest Digital Leadershio Conclave 2021.

Pradeep Gupta, Chairman, CyberMedia Group, was the moderator. He asked: How should we be prepared for the third wave, whether it comes or not?

Prakash Kumar, CEO, Wadhwani Institute of Technology & Policy, said WHO has said we will face the third wave. We all need to be prepared. We are also preparing for the third wave. We need to predict with reasonable accuracy. We have area maps that identifies areas that will be impacted. We need to have hospitals ready with oxygen and ICU beds, medicines, doctors and paramedics. We need to also make information available now, and give the right information to the people. Who should be driving all of this? Action on the ground happens through districts. We need to bring in the other partners, such as private sector and volunteers.

Arun Karna, MD & CEO, AT&T Global Network Services India Pvt Ltd, said we should be prepared for the third wave. Digital technologies that are contactless and touchless, will help save us. There is a blurring of worlds, to a phygital world. There is agility required to scale up and down. Trends existed before the pandemic.


Critical enterprise apps have now been moved to the cloud. There is proliferation in mobility apps. Traditional businesses like telcos have adopted software. IoT adoption to increase efficiency and productivity is happening. The oil needs to be refined as well. We need to draw actionable insights from data. There has to be balance between technology and employee wellness. It calls for an empathetic leadership.

Amit Sinha Roy, Global Head of Marketing & Communications, Tata Communications, said it is a wave. It is very possible. It may be far more debilitating than the second. We also need to relook at some of the best practices. The home and office has merged. We need to be able to separate the work from the home, and do it in more structured world. The hybrid WFH has to evolve in the future. Some sort of a structure needs to be provided.

Vipul Singh, CEO, Aarav Unmanned Systems, added that we need to enable technologies. Technology, with awareness, solves everything. We need to also make sure the economy keeps functioning. As for essential technologies, we have learnt from the waves that helps in rapid response. We need scaled operation and minimum human interaction. We have drone technology, and use it for emergency response. There are communication technologies too, that can be used. AI can also play a huge role. It will compensate the lack of human presence.

Arun Karna said today’s time calls for more empathetic leadership. He or she has to be resilient, stable and grounded. You have to be seen to be leading. Another aspect is the reliance on digital technologies. You need digital adoption, and must be used by the last line in the chain. This has led to new paradigm. It needs to take into account the individuals at the workplace.

How do we ensure we have better crisis management? Prakash Kumar said we need to see how the surveillance is done. Stages are compiled at the district level. That data is given to ICMR. For contact tracing, the information also gets relayed. Transparency comes into play! No one had predicted the pandemic will be so bad. There were some who hoarded medicines and oxygen cylinders at home and other places.

How can UAVs play a role in delivery of vaccines? Vipul Singh said there are some difficult terrains. That’s where all the logistics problems start. We need to mobilize the supply of vaccines. Drones fit into the characteristic of flying to some healthcare facility. They don’t take too much time to reach. Distribution becomes very easy. Drones is a nascent technology. The level of understanding is being developed. The idea is to establish the protocols and standards. Even industrial production is enabled by drones at some places.

Amit Sinha Roy said enterprises can play a role. Hybrid world is here to stay. Organizations have to enable people to


work from anywhere. They need to have adaptable office infrastructure. There has to be return to office. We also need to support and enable WFH. It is a multi-dimensional approach.

Arun Karna suggested you need to secure all endpoints. Networks and security have converged. Vipul Singh said drones or UAVs can be eyes in the skies. They were deployed in cities. They helped the police. Government of India gave very fast permissions. We now need to scale it up. Amit Sinha Roy added we may see a change in the fabric of businesses. Large malls to store at home, airlines into carrying cargo and goods, etc. We need to be more agile. Prakash Kumar noted there are large number of organizations working on AI. One company had processed news articles published in 40 languages. They were one of the first to talk about the Wuhan virus. Models are different, hence, accuracies are different. We need to have all the information readily available on an app, and gets updated continously. We should make use of our strength in software to make that happen.

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