Information technology has vital role in pandemic

The use of information technology in Samoa continues to evolve and it is now considered an essential part of work, including during the current state of emergency that was declared to mitigate risks associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Samoa Information Technology Association (SITA) E-learning Platform Project Manager and member, Mailo Henry Mailo, told Samoa Observer in an interview how IT use in the country has evolved over the years.

He said its use has now become essential for both the Government and private sectors and is making tasks convenient to do.

"There is no better time to use the IT services than right now because of the S.O.E., especially for schools, I think that would be a classic example," he said.

The measles epidemic towards the end of 2019 and the COVID-19 global pandemic that followed early this year, opened up more opportunities for the use of IT infrastructure, according to Mr Mailo.

"During the measles epidemic, they were doing the immunisations and that stuff for the kids. The medical staff is dispersed everywhere in Upolu and Savai'i, and at the end of the day they would go around and collect the data to bring back to the office," he said.

"Even if they bring that mass data with manual forms, I think it would take about three days to put that amount of data into their database system, so those were the challenges that were present. Sam Saili (Chief Executive Officer of SkyEye) had a solution to address this issue and he had the technology to be able to help out S.I.T.A was present to assist his team."

Mr Mailo added that with the introduction of an online database system introduced during the measles epidemic, people would go out into the field with devices and upload the data immediately during the two-days vaccination.

"Once the data appears, then we pick up the amount of villages and see on the map the live data feed. We were able to demonstrate on the map which villages have already been covered. We had big screens placed in front of the Government Building where our tent was placed,” he added. 

“We were able to collect the data, analyse it, and say the data shown here show that there are people that haven't been reached yet in this area of Samoa or maybe we did reach this area but only a few people."

The use of the online database during the global pandemic enables authorities to find out who were infected, the number of infections and how the main hospitals can access these data to ensure efficiency in the intervention programs.

The collating of data manually would make it a major challenge for the authorities, added Mr Mailo, as it would not be possible to have a number until after a week or two.  

"Every Ministry has its own information technology unit. Before it wasn't like a core role, they would come in as a supporting staff but at the moment I believe it is a core role," he added.

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