COVID-19 has thrust health-care workers to the front lines, caused personal tragedy, and redefined what jobs are “essential.” Economically it has imperiled industries, triggered layoffs, and all-but-stopped life within office complexes, malls, stadiums, and urban hubs.
Now, governments face the question of how to lift their finger off the pause button. Any strategy to do so will long predate any vaccine – and its main measure of success will be how it enables officials to track COVID-19 infections and contain the pandemic. It is imperative that these strategies come far sooner than when someone arrives in the ER, or receives a test.
Our leaders must ensure that physical distancing is working because it is vital to reopening indoor spaces safely. Without an 'always-on' mechanism to do so, as warned by the WHO, we risk a surge in new infections, sustained economic damage, and more lockdowns to come.
Technology is the great enabler, and leaders who use this time to build Smart City strategies will position businesses for success and ensure citizens are safe. Our economies cannot afford a misguided approach.
We urge governments to look at WiFi technology for contact tracing as the best path forward to reopen economies. It is the only approach that will protect people’s health and privacy, solve the massive task of consumer adoption, and ensure business continuity in a post-COVID landscape.