As the world looks to establish a “new normal” amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, information and communication technologies (ICT) are coming to the fore in Pakistan as critical tools in protecting public health and in realising socio-economic stability. Understanding this digital shift is important to both businesses and government authorities as they seek new ways to confront the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The reality is that everyone from healthcare providers to educators, retailers, manufacturers, and others are being affected by COVID-19. Nearly every industry in the country has to rethink how it does business and delivers value. That pivot requires new tools for success. Many of those are founded on digital platforms that not only enable work to be done as people are physically separated, but which enable faster, more intelligent decision making.

We have worked with our customers and partners effortlessly over the last few months to make sure of providing smooth and reliable network connection in Pakistan, and we’ve identified some of the most important technologies that will play a role in this fight against COVID-19. New applications of artificial intelligence (AI) are, for example, being used to aid the many scientists and medical experts who are searching for a vaccine and treatments. Smarter collaboration tools are assisting teachers and students across Pakistan to stay connected and for future generations not to fall behind in today’s knowledge economy. Advanced cameras and analytics systems are helping government authorities to monitor public spaces and even conduct remote testing, protecting community wellbeing in the process.

None of these scenarios would be possible without a robust ICT ecosystem. The applications of AI, cloud computing, and big data happening in Pakistan today are proving just how valuable technology collaborations can be when done in an open framework. In particular, the potential future rollout of 5G connectivity will help to improve network capacity and support even more robust tools in the fight against COVID-19.

The Government of Pakistan has adopted a smart lockdown policy in the country, collaborating with leading ICT solution providers to ensure people have access to a smooth and reliable network connection that keeps them connected in this critical time.

That open and cooperative ecosystem is the absolute foundation for addressing COVID-19 challenges. Every sector of the economy now faces its own unique challenges and needs its own dedicated solutions. No single country or company can create all of these solutions by acting alone.

The fight against COVID-19 thus requires the sharing of expertise like never before, particularly in the technology field. That exchange can be seen in collaborations like those between the Ministry of National Health Services and Huawei to deploy a new video conferencing system that can be applied for epidemic prevention and control command, remote consultation, and remote monitoring.

By leveraging our collective strengths and recognising the lessons learned to date, Pakistan’s ICT community can better design the systems that communities and businesses need to tackle this emergency together.

The intelligent world is fast approaching, bringing both challenges and opportunities. Digital technology is reshaping everything. It’s setting the stage for a world where all things can sense, all things are connected, and all things are intelligent. By 2025, 5G will serve 58% of the global population, and it will combine with technologies like 4K and higher definition video, VR/AR, AI, and cloud to transform our personal lives, homes, and industries in ways we have never imagined.

A set of truly immersive experiences will emerge, allowing us to transcend the boundaries of time and space in domains like ultra-high-definition live broadcasts, smart classrooms, remote education, online healthcare, and virtual entertainment. 5G will also allow industries like manufacturing, electricity, transportation, finance, and many others to go digital, embrace artificial intelligence, and deliver new value for their customers. All told, these technologies will have a much broader spill over effect because ICT has become a new economic force, sparking a new wave of global economic growth.

At Huawei, we are focused on innovations in technology, engineering, products, and solutions to address customer needs. We are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. We have more than 194,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions, serving more than three billion people around the world.

— The author is Huawei Pakistan CEO.