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The post-pandemic world

We are witnessing the rise of a smart world. There is a reason the world is going smart. For businesses, it is a nimble way to bring down the cost, improve the quality, and survive the competition. For us, it is a shrewd way to save money and enjoy all the luxuries it offers. Would this paradigm shift make the world a better place for all of us?

To begin with, homes are becoming smart. Especially after COVID-19, many of us are working from home. This has led to a huge market for smart widgets that make our homes comfy to live in and save on energy at the same time. For example — smart thermostats, smart lights, smart switches, smart refrigerators, smart garage door openers, smart security cameras, smart locks, smart smoke detectors, smart TVs, smart entertainment systems, smart laundry machines, smart dish-washing machines, smart energy meters, smart water meters, smart gas meters, and so forth. You name it, we have it. These smart doohickeys are flooding the market for a reason. They save us energy and make our lives a lot easier in this stress-filled professional world. The global smart home market is estimated to be about $70 billion and is expected to grow over $300 billion by 2025.

Collaterally, smart homes are the building blocks of smart cities. Smart cities save tons of money to city administrations. They save on resources such as power, gas, and water. Smart city governments are priding themselves in their excellent services to their citizens. Especially during the pandemic, smart cities have responded very well to emergencies. The coordination between hospitals, ambulatory serves, and various other city services is impeccable. Smart hospitals that were overloaded with COVID-19 patients managed their resources efficiently.

Out of 600 global cities that are yet to go smart, more than 100 have officially been declared smart! And that is a feather in their cap! The market size of global smart city transformation is expected to grow from $400 billion in 2020 to about $800 billion by 2025.

In the world of healthcare, there has never been a better time than now. Telemedicine is on the rise because of COVID-19 scare. No one wants to visit hospitals for simple ailments. Today for simple aches, you can get diagnosed online and the medications would arrive at your door. You don’t have to get out of your bed! The world can’t be any better!

Manufacturing is becoming smart too to reduce cost and to increase the quality. Many products are being produced locally, cutting down on imports, a great way to control

the spread of pandemics. The worldwide market for industrial robots is expected to grow to approximately $75 billion by 2025. The global investment in Internet of Things (IoT) is estimated to reach $50 billion by 2025. The global virtual reality in manufacturing industry is expected to reach $14 billion by 2025. The investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the manufacturing market is expected to grow up to $4 billion by 2025.

Energy production is going smart too. Smart homes are also embracing solar. Solar roofs are easing the load on the grid. What’s more, smart homes reap the benefit of batteries not only for uninterrupted power but also for storing off-peak power when it is cheap, further easing the grid. Globally, smart solar power plants are on the rise bringing down the cost of power and eventually replacing fossil. In 2019, for the first time, solar and wind power installations exceeded 120 GW capacity globally.

Yet another wave in smart world is smart farming. Farming is embracing robotics to counter labour shortage and to increase the yield. Reduced human interaction is a great way to combat the pandemics. For leafy vegetables and fruits, vertical farming is coming into cities making the food cheaper and the cities greener.

Smart logistics is helping save on transportation. Transportation in the future is expected to become the cheapest ever with autonomous trucks. Driverless trucks protect against the viral pandemic. Even the warehouses are becoming smart with robots reducing the human interaction and the spread of viral diseases.

3D printing is yet another smart gizmo that is building homes at the fraction of the cost of traditional homes. We are talking about $10,000 to build a small house! Even the poor can afford a home when built by 3D printers. In Austin, Texas, this technology is already being used to build homes for the poor! Soon every nation will need it.

If you look at all these developments, these changes are not new at all. They have been pervading the market for the past decade. However, COVID-19 has accelerated their growth manifold.

All these smart divergences will not come without a cost. There will be more unemployment in the elderly as they can’t cope with the tech world, but there will be an equally good number of hi-tech jobs for the youth. Youth could start earning money as early as 15-20 years of age and sadly go out of work as early as 45-50. A huge burden for governments to support the jobless. The good news is that the cost of food, housing and transportation will be much cheaper in the smart world! All the governments around the world would be able to look after their citizens fairly well.

Most of the technological changes are irreversible. There is no going back. Yet the world is hungry for more technology. An eventual smart world is a blessing in

disguise. Everyone has a stake in it, both rich and poor. Rich stash more, poor battle to survive. Both can win in the smart world! Would the world be a better place tomorrow? You bet!

raviamblee@hotmail.com

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 11:48:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-post-pandemic-world/article33768638.ece

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