Association on standby in virus preparations
The Samoa Information Technology Association (S.I.T.A.) is prepared to step up and help Samoa manage a coronavirus outbreak with a database, recording the outbreak in real time and publish awareness campaigns, President Fainuulelei James Ah Wai has said.
During the 2019 measles epidemic, S.I.T.A. was able to help the Government of Samoa during the mass immunisation campaign, digitising the vaccination effort with maps and databases for the dozens of nursing teams that spread out across the country.
And while the COVID-19 is a different pandemic altogether, Fainuulelei said the association’s membership can help again, as well as work with private sector to ease the transition to online work in case of a nationwide shutdown.
“It’s one of our priorities to assist our Government in whichever way possible, use our profession as I.T. specialists,” he said.
“We can provide a platform to capture data and also assist with awareness, making sure we can send information on websites, or other media outlets so many people can learn preventative measures.
“This is new. We don’t know the impact of the disease, not like the measles which we knew who was affected and how to prevent with the M.M.R. vaccination. But we have to be very careful of our own protection as well, to assist from home or a safe location,” the President added.
As COVID-19 spreads around the world, governments have closed entire towns to contain and treat the virus. Where it has yet to take hold, leadership is encouraging people to stay home where possible and practice social distancing – avoiding close contact and spending time in public, crowded places.
Fainuulelei said with much of the private sector utilising online cloud based services, many will be able to continue working uninterrupted, with just a few kinks to iron out like who pays for data.
Also important to consider is cyber security and working on strict access to systems that typically aren’t under as much pressure, he said.
“One area we need to be mindful of is security; otherwise it will be a good opportunity for hackers to compromise your system. Think about access control and the level of access for workers working from home, who will approve things for payments, and so on,” he said.
Fainuulelei said he encourages all businesses to have their I.T. personnel join their association so that they can share ideas and advice on improving life for people while they have to work remotely online.
“It’s easy to transform to the cloud,” he said.
From a business perspective, online trading needs to take the place of physical trading to help companies stay afloat if people cannot move about freely, he said. E-commerce platforms where people can trade and deliver and services will mean many businesses will be able to continue even under a shutdown of some kind.
“This is a good time to use e-services. We don’t want people to come to public places, we need them to stay home and make sure they are able to work from home.
Fainuuleleli said Samoa needs to utilise the resources it has, like the submarine cables and the online services that many businesses already have.
“All businesses and Government ministries and state owned enterprises should have disaster recovery plans, how they can deal with such an epidemic. But most of the private sector and businesses are already using cloud services, and I think that is one of the keys.
“That will make our life easy, to do business online without any disruption in case there is a shutdown to the country, so it’s about making use of technology.”