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Experts recommend use of location data, mobility info to curb virus spread

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Experts in the information and communication technology (ICT) field have advised governments at all levels on the use of location data and mobility information to further curb spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

While noting that ICT already plays a role in data management and critical functions in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, who is among those that gave the recommendation, said further work needed to be done in using location data and mobility information to stay one step ahead of the spread of this virus.

Teniola said that satellite technology can also be used in very hard to reach or very remote communities to ensure that the tracking and tracing of the pandemic is effectively managed.

According to him, location data refers to the cell site information of a device latched onto a GSM network and when SIM card is inserted into a device. He said the process helps to determine the most recent location of a device or SIM inserted in a device relative to other devices or fixed moving objects.

He pointed out that the alternative will be to use Internet Protocol addresses and GPS information as used by Google Tracking Services on smartphones.

Already, he said the mobile device has been effective, especially in the dissemination of information. “Mobile devices have been used to send SMS(es) and info relating to COVID-19 by NCDC and this is provided for by our members. Other innovative initiatives that provides virtual meetings and e-learning opportunities is also a trending change in consumer behaviour and will play a significant role as more people connect to the Internet,” he stated.

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer, Mobile Software Solution, Chris Uwaje, said there will be need to revive the Landlines, so as to intensify broadband delivery to the last mile.

Uwaje said policy makers should focus on the big task ahead, which is “applying sociological strategies and tools to re-engineer the mindset of the population. Embark on developing digital smart communities first, before smart cities, to avoid massive urban migration to the cities which may intensify slums and infrastructural collapse. Above all, there is need to retool our institutions, judiciary, build trustworthiness and apply merit-first strategies to accelerate technology presence and engender productivity and sustainable development.”

Uwaje noted that Nigeria needs to build about two million ICT capacities in different areas in the next three years.

According to him, the world now live in an ICT-first world, stressing that no meaningful economic and social development can be earned without the mastery, deployment and constructive diffusion of ICT at all levels.

“With her large pool of Youth population (65 per cent), Nigeria stands a lot to gain if we can seize the immense opportunities that would be presented by Post-Covid-19 economic scenario, by retooling the workforce with e-Government, especially at the leadership level,” he stated.

He stressed the need to promote National Software Strategic Plan and related legislative and fiscal policy agenda to improve education, agriculture, health care and health care delivery, empower the 21.3 million unemployed youth, provide massive employment to many Nigerians, increase the GDP and radically improve National Security and the creation of wealth.


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