In 2019, Singapore launched a vision for how the city could integrate AI into the economy and people’s lives. Less than a year later, the pandemic hit — and echoed the urgent need for new technologies, including AI, to be able to function in the new normal.

Chinese tech giant Huawei believes companies will need to incorporate technology powered by 5G, cloud and AI to adapt to a post-Covid world. It will invest SGD $5 million into the city this year to strengthen the tech ecosystem.

“Covid-19 is an accelerator of digital transformation, technology such as Cloud, AI and 5G will reshape and transform our lives. It’s time for us to reach out, band together and discover new opportunities,” said Nicholas Ma, CEO of Huawei International.

Building a sustainable ecosystem

The city has a pool of skilled talent and is the leading innovation hub in the region, said Jeffery Liu, President of Huawei Asia Pacific. “When it comes to AI ecosystem-based collaboration, we are happy to work together with the academic community and industries to promote AI development, which advances both technology and industries as a whole.”

To build a sustainable ecosystem resilient to disruptions, Huawei plans to expand and strengthen connectivity. It will invest in building AI across industries, with a focus on government, finance, transportation and internet service providers.

The tech giant also plans to collaborate more closely with its partners — a move the company says is crucial as Singapore moves into economic recovery. Huawei established over 28,000 partnerships worldwide in 2019.

“We believe it will empower digital transformation for numerous industries, and help our ecosystem partners boost immunity eventually,” said Aaron Wang, Managing Director of Huawei Singapore Enterprise Business Group.

Apart from its virtual AI academy which provides free courses in AI and computing, Huawei also launched a series of products to aid Singapore’s push towards a Smart Nation. The company’s WiFi-6 product, powered by 5G and with a built-in IoT module, will help industries automate their processes. Warehouses can use WiFi-6 to check the real-time location of products and know how they are used, helping to save costs and forecast how many products need to be kept in store. Prisons, for example, can also use the tech to know the precise location of guards and prisoners, and receive alarms when they step out of security zones.

“It’s really the time for us to rethink the way we are doing things, rethink the way we are operating our business. Is there any smarter way for us to do business?” said Tony Shi Ri, Chief Technology Officer at Huawei APAC Scenario Based Solution Department.

Transforming the healthcare industry

The Covid-19 pandemic has put high levels of strain on the healthcare industry and demonstrated the need for tech to automate processes and reduce inefficiencies. This is where Huawei sees its IoT network as a tool for transformation.

The network allows hospitals to track the inventory of medicine, and ensures that surgical equipment is in place before operations. Nurses and doctors can use personal digital assistants to access patients’ medical history. Through these innovations, Huawei hopes to help the healthcare industry make more informed decisions, reduce errors, and improve the quality of service.

Closer cross-industry partnerships will be essential in helping the city-state recover from the devastating economic effects of the pandemic, Huawei believes.

As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Successful collaborations between governments and industries will help in navigating the uncertain future after Covid-19.