Evolving new ways of responding to and addressing social demands and problems has always been a key feature of every human society and even more in adversity as history teaches us. As society evolves, the demands of the society and the structures needed to sustain the society also change, requiring the members of the society to fashion new and innovative ways in response to the changes. In today’s world, technology has become an integral and ubiquitous part of our lives.
Technology has, in many ways, changed the way human beings interact with their environment to the extent that it is impossible, at the moment, to imagine a world without the benefits of technology and digital innovations. One thing that remains key, however, is the opportunity technology provides for us to address social challenges and find solutions that make life easier and better.
The many opportunities provided by technology, aside from helping organizations to streamline their processes and improving efficiency for enhanced customer experience, have also served as catalysts for remedying wider challenges facing society, from healthcare to education to the very sustenance of society. Technology has effectively removed physical obstacles that prevent people from engaging as members of a modern world.
One of the areas where the world has seen perhaps the most impact relative to leveraging the benefits of technology to solve social problems or respond to the demands of peculiar circumstances is education. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic put a huge strain on traditional modes of teaching and learning. Today, E-learning and smart classrooms are said to be ‘breaking down the walls of traditional classroom’ and opening new opportunities to both teachers and students. Without the benefits of technology, society would have come to a hiatus. Technology provided the world a way out and a fluid way to continue the process of education albeit with some challenges. Education will not be the same again as many curricular have become democratized for parents, guardians and students alike to self-learn with very little supervision and accreditations.
Technology has been acknowledged in many ways as a critical enabler for poverty alleviation. It has been argued that technology can help reduce poverty by creating jobs and allowing businesspeople in developing countries to reach a wider market through e-commerce. Thus, having access to internet opens vast opportunities for people to empower themselves economically. In Ghana currently, there are over 10,000 online businesses owned, in most cases, by young people. And as data penetration increases, the awareness created by the pandemic will long remain in shaping up how small and big businesses gain access to markets and capital.
In healthcare, the benefits of technology have been enormous. From diagnostics to treatment and management of diseases, technology continues to revolutionize healthcare delivery across the world. The digitization of hospitals and other healthcare facilities is making healthcare delivery more efficient and convenient. The benefit of electronic medical records is allowing hospital administrators and healthcare givers to access patient records from anywhere as well as interact with colleagues and patients no matter their location to give collaborative care. Tele-medicine is also set to grow exponentially in the coming years to expand the reach of expert care globally.
The introduction of easy, fast and convenient online payment systems is reducing the amount of time spent in hospitals and eliminating long and unbearable queues that usually characterize the settlement of bills in hospitals. Apps and platforms such as the Health Pay App enables patients/guardians/ benefactors irrespective of their location to facilitate the payment of bills to allow either themselves or their beneficiaries receive the much-needed treatment as and when required.
In the important area of agriculture, technology has become the critical answer needed to respond to the dietary needs of the world’s ever-growing population. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has predicted that by 2050, the world will need to produce 70% more of what the world is producing now to be able to effectively feed the people of the world. Framers and agricultural companies are introducing farming technologies to be able to produce more and meet demands.
Technology has had a transformational effect on the world by providing a range of new ways to tackle some of the most pressing issues the world faces. As the world evolves, so will the problems society face. But in technology, the world can always find relevant and timely solutions to deal with whatever challenge comes our way.
By Patrick George Quantson
The writer is the Head of Digital Transformation at Stanbic Bank