One of the aspects of development we at Baird’s CMC will be watching with particularly close attention this year is the application of new technologies. “Looking to the future, there will be significant opportunities in this field, particularly with the delivering of health. Things like telemedicine and e-health, for instance, have the potential to be game-changing,” says Paul Dillon, senior associate at Baird’s CMC and a veteran in the fields of health, development and communications.
Such technologies are particularly critical in reaching and creating access in remote regions and communities that have limited or no access to physical health facilities. “The application of new technologies in these kinds of environments can be absolutely transformational,” says Paul.
Several countries are already engaged in a close examination of how they may harness the potential of these technologies within their health systems. Pilot projects are underway in a few countries in South America as well as in Indonesia, and the results look promising. Governments and development organisations are seeking to answer a few key questions: which technologies are available? How might they be adapted? What uses can they be put to?
Apart from health, new technologies could also become very important in the area of climate change, given the increasingly erratic and extreme weather conditions. The use of these technologies in, for instance, early warning systems and health support networks could radically change the ways in which disasters are managed and relief is provided.
“Although one usually considers rural and remote regions in this context, pilot programmes are also producing interesting results in urban, densely populated areas,” points out Paul. “These technologies are relatively new, and it’s still early days to some extent. In the coming years, I think we’re going to see much wider and more innovative application. The question of data management and security, particularly in relation to health, is also likely to find a crucial place in the global discussion. I expect the debate to be very robust, especially since the issue has been of such significance last year.”
Watch this space for updates as the global discourse on new technologies in the development landscape is shaped this year.