Infotech 2018 vs Innovate 2018

Avec le soutien de
A past Infotech exhibition © Dev Ramkhelawon.

A past Infotech exhibition © Dev Ramkhelawon.

This opinion piece by Ming Chen was published in Weekly No. 313 of 30 August 2018.

Once again, it will be a display of products and services to the locals. Once again, we are bringing technology to the end user. Once again, the interest in IT development will be quite superficial.

More powerful computers, better connection, enormous storage, lower printing costs… So what? How impactful will Infotech 2018 be on our everyday lives? How impactful have the past Infotechs been?

The innovation comes mainly in terms of new or revamped products to be sold to the public. It is how we use technology that will make a difference and, so far, it has been a lamentable failure.

What is so difficult about creating an app that could help all those patients who have an appointment at the various hospitals? Workers have to take a day off for a medical check-up because they have no idea when, during the day, the doctor will consult them. That has been the way for decades. One hundred patients waiting for two hours. That is a 200-hour productivity loss and we are far from the reality. Not to forget that there are over 800,000 cellular phones in Mauritius. The app would react according to settings and send an alert to the patient in due course that the appointment is imminent.

When the patient reaches the hospital, at the entrance, there would be a QR note that would notify the back office so that the patient’s medical file would be retrieved from cloud with a copy to the doctor and one to the patient.

“It is how we use technology that will make a difference and, so far, it has been a lamentable failure.”

As soon as the patient has been diagnosed, the doctor’s report would be sent to the employer stating the medical leave granted. Upon collection of free medication, the pharmacist would be able to follow up on what kind of medication has been given in the past and what is the trend.

If bus shelters are to be that expensive, they had better be intelligent. Communication is key these days and it could only help if these bus shelters could display the actual status of bus passages and routes. With most buses being tracked these days, the same data can be used for both bus users and bus operators, so that buses are no longer sent out empty for the sake of sending a bus. That is called high efficiency, Just in Time as the Japanese say. Cameras in these bus shelters will certainly provide an indication about the number of passengers waiting.

The Mauritius Post sends SMS alerts when a parcel reaches the Post Office. They can certainly tell you that there is no need for a magic wand to get things going. A certain level of vision, packed up with barcode tracking and a proper database will do the job.

SMEs being a major economic figure, the absence of local accounting software endorsed by the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA) remains a mystery. Most SMEs in their early days cannot afford pricey accounting packages; hence the opportunity to develop such recognised tools. The Revenue Authority in the UK has experts in every single major accounting software so that when returns are done, there is ease of accountability.

Our education system remains very traditional. The few schools that are equipped with a computer lab are mainly concerned with Microsoft Windows applications. Apple Mac, Android and other environments are still not very popular. IT seems to be a costly investment but with the advent of Raspberry Pi, things are evolving rapidly in the emerging countries that have engaged in this way. Launched in 2012, the Raspberry Pi is highly cost effective and modular. Creativity is the key word, where youngsters learn basic programming through an enormous amount of Open Source Operating system for this hardware.

Alas, we remain users and users we will be, whilst Infotech will remain Bazartech…

For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected]

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