The way that we live, work, learn and play has shifted dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we navigate these uncharted waters, all of us must reimagine ways to stay connected at work, with family and with our social groups. Fortunately, a growing array of technologies, including the new 5G network, can provide much-needed connections with others — and help all of us to feel less isolated.
Today, families are using video chat applications to hold virtual weekend gatherings. Strength and conditioning coaches are streaming daily workouts from their garages to motivate healthy behavior. In Singapore, schools have shifted to home-based learning (HBL), and extra-curricular lessons for children have also gone online: tuition and music lessons are now conducted over video conference.
For the elderly and those who provide care for them, connectivity technology is especially critical. In 2019, the old-age support ratio in Singapore is 4.5 - which means there are only 4 working age people supporting the economy for every older person in Singapore, as compared to 13.5 in 1970.1 Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, this means that there is potentially heightened isolation and health risks among the older population, especially for those who do not live with their children or caregivers.
To uphold safe distancing measures and engage seniors at the same time, many programs and activities for them have gone online. For example, the Government and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) have come up with a new internet video series to bring various fitness and cooking activities to seniors at home. The National Silver Academy (NSA) has also rolled out a new series of live talks, NSA e-Nuggets Series, to engage seniors in e-learning.2 The Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) has even encouraged the shift to video consultations for doctors with their existing patients by allowing the use of Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) cards and Medisave to pay for them.3
Exercise coaches are using virtual technology to connect with and encourage people, no matter their physical locations. Noelle Lyon, a nationally certified group exercise instructor, says the ability to teach virtually is a big help for her students.
“I would say that 100% of my students are much more apt to have someone guide them through an exercise routine than they would be to try and do it themselves,” Lyon said. “Teaching online was different for me, but it was fun. I went about my business and taught the class, and every now and then, I would ask individual participants to say something. It was nice to feel the comradery through digital cyberspace.”
Artists have turned social media into virtual venues to remind us all that music can uplift our spirits and connect us in ways that in-person concerts never could. While Esplanade has cancelled its upcoming physical concerts, they have created “Esplanade Offstage”, an online all-access backstage pass and insider’s guide to Singapore and Asian arts and culture. Specially curated from Esplanade’s archives, “Esplanade Offstage” features performances by leading acts in Singapore and Asia in the form of stories, videos, and podcasts.4
For isolated older adults who prefer living in their familiar homes, technology can be a boon — allowing for easy connectivity with loved ones and providing access to health care via telemedicine. Many are using social media, messaging and videoconferencing to maintain the human connection that is so essential despite the current obstacles.
Acceleration of technology makes it possible
All these examples of staying connected and engaged during times of isolation are made possible by technology that didn’t exist even just five years ago. Imagine what this isolated lifestyle would be like if the COVID-19 pandemic happened in 2005 when smartphones didn’t exist, video chatting was crude and basic, and online services were just beginning. Additionally, the world’s cellular network was still on 3G back then, and our cell phones had very limited capabilities beyond voice calls.
The rollout of 5G, the fifth-generation cellular network that features downloading speeds reportedly 100 times faster than that of 4G (and about 500 times faster than 3G), is accelerating performance in a time that needs connectivity and bandwidth more than ever.
To understand how “staying at home” is affecting the network, let’s look at some data from some of Singapore’s largest high-speed internet providers. MyRepublic has been experiencing the upper end of the increase in daytime traffic in the past month, while ViewQwest has seen an overall spike of 30%. Singtel has also reported a noticeable increase in network traffic, while StarHub has seen more clients on the Internet in the daytime.5
This dramatic increase in network traffic is requiring the communications industry — from internet service providers to data center infrastructure companies — to add capacity and engineering resources necessary to handle spikes and shift in use patterns. Ultimately, the amount of user data is exploding worldwide, putting strain on networks to store and move this data without performance bottlenecks.
The expanding role of memory and storage
To keep vast quantities of data moving efficiently for worldwide connectivity, cloud servers and the networks that glue them together need a lot of memory. Today’s cloud services offer virtually infinite amounts of capacity to satisfy our escalating needs for video-, audio- and livestreaming. The need for memory is only going to grow, both in the cloud and at the edge, as up-and-coming technologies (like artificial intelligence and virtual reality) become more prevalent in data centers and even in personal devices.
For connectivity applications to continue providing quality user experiences, they must use the combination of both the cloud and the intelligent edge to process massive quantities of data in real time. With 5G, the amount of data generated from user devices accelerates, requiring even more data to be stored, moved, processed and secured efficiently.
Micron has long been at the forefront of memory and storage technology, and we hold that place today with our powerful, fast DRAM memory chips and our high-density NAND flash memory. We are committed to helping keep the world’s 5G connections flowing by delivering memory innovation and engineering expertise to our customers and partners.
Knowing that Micron is doing our part to help everyone tune into the world outside our doors, even when we’re staying indoors, provides us with a sense of empowerment. And when we can’t visit the people we love in person, technology can act as a second set of eyes and ears, increasing connections and perhaps easing our worries.
Learn more at sg.micron.com/5gmemory.