The very best examples of technology changing the world for the better is where systems are used to amplify human effort. In the areas of healthcare and education, in particular, it will be virtually impossible to train enough teachers and open enough schools to cope with growing populations of young people.
Likewise in healthcare, medical networks are stressed to capacity thanks to the fact that more of us live longer – and therefore need more care – and shortages of trained staff and infrastructure mean huge inequalities in the standard of care between rich and poor in countries like South Africa.
One company that thinks it has a technology which can help is networking giant Cisco. A specialist in business communications and video conferencing, it’s looking at ways it can bring its know-how to healthcare in South Africa, and will be demonstrating its Care-at-a-Distance technology at the My World of Tomorrow (MWOT) tech expo in Sandton next week.
Cisco’s Conrad Steyn explains that by using technology developed for high definition video conferencing in the corporate world, Care-at-a-Distance could be used to provide rural clinics and hospitals with access to medical professionals from better equipped centres anywhere in the world.
“With our Care-at-a-Distance solution you can share healthcare and use specialised resources like doctors and consultants and use them in a previously disadvantaged environment, anything from high end community hospitals to wellness centres” Steyn says, “It’s a connected health ecosystem and shape global health systems without boundaries.”
While Care-at-a-Distance hasn’t yet been deployed in South Africa, it’s just one of many technologies on display at MWOT that will be viewable by the general public.
Steyn says that it was important for Cisco to get involved with MWOT in order to help add context to the “internet of things” – a phrase often heard in mainstream media now but still difficult for many to understand.
“One of the big focuses at the moment is in car devices and driving the connected environment,” he explains, “But there’s a lot to talk about. In mining, for example, we’re doing a lot of asset tracking with RFID chips embedded in carts and so on, and from a physical security point of view, there’s RFID access cards combined with streaming video.”
Steyn believes that South Africa is on the cusp of an explosion in connectivity, and it’s best to be prepared.
“Video is becoming a megatrend,” he says, “Video traffic on the internet in South Africa is projected to grow six fold by 2018, it’s prolific.”
htxt.africa is a media partner for the My World of Tomorrow show, which is open to the public in Sandton Convention Centre from 16th to 18th October.