Can video help Asia stay open for business?
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Benjamin Low
Vice President, APAC
December 16, 2020
The pandemic is far from over. But Asia is in a better position than most. Goldman Sach’s Andrew Tilton attributes Asia’s preferential footing to the region’s “good control of the virus”.
While Asia is eager to springboard its economy into recovery, the threat of a second wave of infections is always there, as can be seen from what’s happening in other continents such as Europe and North America.
Open today, closed tomorrow?
Asia is keen to reopen the economy through initiatives such as green lanes and travel bubbles within the region. However, the success of these initiatives hangs by a thread, as new spikes in COVID-19 cases can put a stop to them and trigger the closing of borders once again.

We’ve seen how the planned travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong had been delayed a day before its launch, due to a spike in the latter’s COVID-19 infections. Even plans for travel between Australia and New Zealand had to be ditched due to new outbreaks in Victoria.

On the other end, businesses are equally ready to start production and trading. However, the risk of resurgence still looms heavy as a potential outbreak in factories or offices can prove catastrophic.

Even factories manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are not spared – case in point being the incident with Malaysia's rubber glove manufacturer, Top Glove. This is notably concerning, given that PPE factories will need employees to operate onsite regardless of the viral situation.

The act of managing priorities to prevent a resurgence while stimulating the economy proves to be a monumental task. What can governments and businesses do to stay the course to recovery?
Treading the fine line between recovery and resurgence
While government and business leaders look towards maintaining the balancing act of safety and reopening the economy, key investments in the right infrastructure and technologies will be central to a post-pandemic recovery. Even when COVID-19 is long gone, we can be sure that our cities, workplaces, homes, social spaces and shops will never be the same again.

Leaders should consider shoring up on infrastructural technologies, such as video technology and their IoT ecosystem. IoT-enabled sensors and devices, used in conjunction with a camera network and a Video Management System (VMS), can provide decision-makers with smart video capabilities. There are four sectors where these smart video capabilities can provide governments and businesses in Asia an edge, as they look towards the safe reopening of the economy.

Logistics and supply chain
We’ve seen how supply chains have become the crucial lifeblood of a world under lockdown, especially when it comes to commodities such as food. The pandemic has also triggered an eCommerce boom, with Southeast Asia’s internet economy projected to surpass US$ 300 billion by 2025 due to growing consumer demand.

The logistics sector can tap into video technologies to ensure their supply chains remain resilient. Tapping on video analytics and the IoT network, logistics leaders can streamline operations, ensure on-time deliveries, track shipments, reduce missing shipments and theft. Given the dominance of the just-in-time supply chain, predicting and mitigating possible delays can make or break a bottom-line, at a time where economic downturns are threatening even the most solvent businesses.

Transportation
While lockdown measures have started to ease, governments in Asia must still ensure that citizens do not breach non-essential travel restrictions outside of their local or approved regions. Video technologies such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) capabilities help ensure errant travellers are quickly identified on the roads.

Video analytics can help transport companies to monitor footfall and traffic in roads and other areas such as rail stations, to ensure social distancing can happen and reduce potential overcrowding in popular destinations. In busy road areas, video can monitor for high-traffic and open or close lanes in response. It can also open lanes solely for emergency vehicles - and even integrate with a hospital’s (or other location) access control system to reduce emergency response times.

Retail
As more retailers re-open their physical stores, adherence to social distancing is critical to reducing the likelihood of viral transmissions and future closing of locations. Likewise, retailers must consider ways to remain responsive and agile to an ever-changing situation.

There is an array of different smart video capabilities that can help businesses resume operations while adhering to safe social distancing requirements. These include heat mapping and occupancy statistics, crowd counting for public spaces or even distancing detection.

Safe cities
Globally, governments and public authorities faced a significant challenge in controlling and monitoring the spread of COVID-19. The concept of ‘safe cities’ now encompasses not just public law, order and safety, but also health measures and infection control.

Video analytics can be deployed in tight-knit cities to ensure people adhere to social distancing rules. Additionally, integrating them with crowd and traffic control solutions can help identify gathering or overcrowding, redirecting people to safer spaces or routes whilst reminding them of social distancing rules. In the long term, video analytics can also help with reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.
Preparing for a resilient economy, today
While governments and businesses in Asia continue to look for means to reboot the economy safely, strategic investments in infrastructural technologies such as video will continue to have long-reaching advantages, especially in a post-COVID-19 scenario.

It ensures that cities and businesses have a smart and flexible infrastructure that can adapt to changing demands and challenges posed in the new normal, helping the economy to stay open. These strategies are not only relevant today but will ensure Asia’s economy remains futureproof in the face of challenges to come.

This article was originally published on Future IoT.