Staying in touch without Touch

We always knew and have always known, that our mobile phones are what keep us connected. Whether its SMS, WhatsApp, email, TIK TOK Twitter or yes even voice there is a certain sense of security knowing we can stay in touch. Fast forward 2020 and the world is gripped by the single biggest threat since world war 2 and people need to stay in touch without touch.
Technology that yesterday we took for granted will now drive our commercial systems reinforce our social relationships and firm up our belief that without the face to face, without the physical handshakes, and the fist pumps the high fives and the hugs we can continue to function as a society, and our mobile phones will keep us connected and mildly content under the circumstances.
Since the explosion of mobile technology some 20 years ago, we have seen how the mobile phone has orchestrated the capture of content on an unprecedented scale, but not only has it captured content, but the diversity of channels now capable of disseminating content has demonstrated similar growth. We now move away from a situation where cat videos kids’ concerts and superfluous selfies will be replaced by a more considered thoughtful use of mobile technology. The world is in crises, who knows what to believe from which news platform and yet our urge to stay in touch with those closest will grow at a time when limitations are being placed on physical ability to do so. How important will an SMS be now? In a matter of days one of the oldest mobile technologies may become the most important.

Yesterday the author received this SMS from the GP surgery that read like this.

Covid: to reduce your risk of infection we have increased telephone access to speak to a GP to avoid face-face appt when unnecessary https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19

SMS is being used to save lives contain and restrain the spread of the biggest threat to humankind in our lifetime. The health service is in crises, and this crisis will deepen in the coming weeks, and bulk SMS is the preferred communications method being used by medical practitioners and health care providers to mitigate against the spread of this highly contagious, virulent virus that will be spread through human contact.

Limiting the strain Corona virus places on public services will depend on effective, fast accurate information. Up to date data and clear actionable directives will need to be communicated to everyone, but paramount is communicating information to the most vulnerable as quickly as possible through a communications channel that they are comfortable with and that is not dependent on subsidiary channels perhaps like WIFI.

Ironically the slowest to adopt the more modern technologies are the elderly and it is this very demographic who are most vulnerable and at risk from Covid -19. Fortunately, SMS and the reliable text message is something most of this portion of society benefit from and why it is being used to communicate the best practice and procedures with those at risk.

Let’s imagine mail not being delivered, busses and trains not operating and the elderly not being able to benefit from the security of having a direct line of contact with their GP or healthcare provider. This would be a horrific situation in an uncertain environment that would breed more fear and panic. A simple SMS with what to do, how to do it will go a long way to relieving an anxious situation.

Not only will vital information regarding the health services be using SMS, but so too will transport, education, finance and government and the reason for this is the overwhelming accuracy that a mobile phone number offers in identifying an individual. Not only can we identify the individual against a database, but we can pinpoint location and how important could this prove in delaying and containing a threat of this nature.

We are living in testing times, how we go about our work, play and daily lives will experience huge disruption over the next weeks and months but giving us some contentment is the fact that even though we may have to place ourselves in physical isolation we are still able to stay in touch without touch and important information will still be available to those who need it most, whether it’s a doctor or loved one a simple SMS will make all the difference.