Digital technologies play a vital role in fighting Covid-19, with companies like NTT working to protect frontline hospitals from cyberattacks. Being able to step up in a crisis has reinforced NTT’s belief in the power of technology to positively contribute to society.
Imagine if digital tools had not existed during the Covid-19 pandemic. There would have been no remote working, no virtual meetings, and no collaboration possible between scientists, epidemiologists and public health authorities around the world. Digital and cloud-based tools have allowed businesses and communities to continue to function. They are helping doctors and scientists crunch the data on the coronavirus and track its spread, and they are helping pharmaceutical companies and researchers in the race against the clock to develop a vaccine.
According to the WSJ Intelligence 2020 survey of 352 CEOs at large corporations across 15 countries, 49 percent say that COVID has had a “massive” impact on their corporate strategy. Seventy percent say they have embraced social impact strategies. Without digital tools, the partnerships and collaboration needed to tackle a global crisis such as Covid-19 would be much more difficult, if not impossible.
Global technology solutions firm NTT, which traces its roots to introducing the telegraph in Japan in 1869, has a long heritage of innovation and working together with partners to solve problems. The company believes in technology as a social force for good. Covid-19 put this belief to the test, and NTT was able to prove its worth. Here’s how.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase worldwide in cyberattacks, such as fraudulent email ‘phishing’ and ransomware extortion schemes. Hackers sought to exploit the disruption to normal business processes. Millions of workers had to rely on home networks and systems, which are typically less secure than their enterprise equivalents, making them particularly vulnerable to fraudsters.
NTT provided free cybersecurity incident response services to frontline hospitals, giving them peace of mind to continue their vital work. Meanwhile, it has worked closely with its clients to ensure that their businesses remain resilient even as they adjust their working practices.
Understanding Covid-19 and its effects on human health began with mapping the coronavirus’s genetic sequence, using artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing. Increasingly, the future of healthcare will be entwined with technological innovations like these. NTT has already been finding ways to apply its technology expertise to health and wellbeing, as it pursues its goal of helping its people, clients and wider communities flourish in a digital future.
For example, NTT has partnered with academic researchers in Australia to develop virtual-reality training for dementia caregivers. Its R&D labs in the United States are developing virtual ‘twins’—digital replicas of individual patients’ bodies that will be used to create personalized treatments for complex conditions.
In the future, as we learn to treat Covid-19 and other potential risks to our health and wellbeing, we will need innovative technology that contributes to the common good and tackles universal challenges. Businesses can contribute in many ways, even if they do not operate in the health sector.
Often the best way of contributing is to work with partners on particular challenges. Through its 300,000-strong workforce, NTT has built authentic, long-term relationships with its clients and communities and helped them achieve their goals.
Successful collaborations require trust and integrity. And in the world of technology, trust is not a given. Nearly half of the CEOs surveyed for the WSJ 2020 Intelligence Survey were worried about the dangers of technology, including invasion of privacy, identity theft and unmanageable information. These worries have come to the fore during the pandemic, with cyberattacks on companies and remote workers increasing exponentially.
NTT is working hard to improve trust in new technologies with research into new encryption methods, for example. The data privacy on which the world depends for security is founded on encryption, which is the process of scrambling information with algorithms so that unauthorized computers cannot read it. However, we face an increased likelihood that new technologies, such as quantum computing, will render today’s encryption techniques obsolete. That’s why NTT researchers are developing advanced encryption standards that will be secure against even the most advanced quantum computers.
Privacy and data security are vital to building trust. But no security method will be effective unless users have confidence in it. NTT understands the importance of making clients feel confident about using its technology. Whether it’s in collaboration services, managed services, data centers, or global networks, clients must have confidence in NTT’s systems. This is especially true when it comes to making networks secure against cyberattacks.
Making the world a safer place doesn’t stop in cyberspace. Rapid and accessible testing holds the key to containing Covid-19. Luxembourg’s government has relied on NTT’s multi-cloud expertise to process up to 20,000 Covid-19 tests per day, with the results available in 24 hours.
Making Covid-19 testing faster and more comfortable was a perfect challenge for NTT, because its innovation culture has always focused on the potential benefits for society.
Another way NTT’s technology helps improve public health and safety is in the use of publicly accessible data to identify unfolding emergencies in cities. For example, data from traffic cameras might spot a road accident and ensure that emergency services are notified, even when there is nobody nearby to report it. Adding AI to this technology creates the possibility of predicting accident hotspots, so that preventative action can be taken.
This is just part of the work NTT is doing on smart cities, a project that will make for safer, more pleasant places to live and work. Weather patterns, crime information and even social media activity are all examples of the kind of public data that can be used to improve urban life. NTT is working on projects all over the world that put this kind of data to use.
In one northern European city, for example, NTT is developing a public transportation solution that will enhance commuter safety, security and convenience during Covid-19 with predictive notifications of occupancy rates and emergency situations. It will also enable reservation planning. This predictive deep-learning technology, which uses multiple sources of raw data input, along with easy-to-use interfaces, is designed to offer commuters a greater level of assurance.
As the world manages the current pandemic, it is evident that we are all deeply connected to our communities and must find innovative, secure and privacy-centered ways to use data to improve community life for all.
The pandemic has underlined the need for many companies to accelerate their digital transformation. Collaboration software, managed services and continuous service models have all been vital in this crisis. Remote working would have been impossible without them. The same goes for the digital tools that have connected companies to their clients and suppliers at a time of systemic disruption.
Technologies that a year ago were seen as ‘nice to have’ are now crucial to business survival. With its long experience of helping companies achieve transformative results through the application of digital technology, NTT is well placed to help clients ensure they are well equipped for this new environment.
As the world adjusts to new ways of working, learning and living, NTT is ready with its global industry knowledge, technology expertise and collaborative spirit to ensure a safer and faster return to a new normal life.
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