How Can Technology Help Key Sectors Reopen Safely After COVID-19?

Bethan Vincent

This article is the first part of our series which will explore key sector challenges and technology solutions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The past few months have forced numerous organisations to digitise operating processes, moving staff and customer experiences online in record time. We acutely felt this shift here at Netsells when our entire team went remote with a single day’s notice. 

COVID-19 has thrown the world into an unprecedented period of global change, arguably representing the biggest challenge any of us face during our lifetimes.

Human behaviours and attitudes will undoubtedly need to adapt to meet the challenges of the pandemic, but we also believe that technology has a key role to play in re-opening the world economically and socially.

While much of the next few months is still unknown from both a legislative, scientific and timescale perspective, many businesses are starting to plan their path back to re-opening. However, most organisations are rightly concerned about how to best protect their staff and employees.

One of the key weapons at our disposal is the fact that most of the population have a mobile phone with them, often at all times. By moving services online and facilitating customer interactions via mobile and online channels, we have a clear opportunity to mitigate, monitor and in some cases remove completely many risks.

Below is a sector-by-sector high-level overview of the key challenges we believe could be overcome through the adoption of new and existing technologies.


Key Challenges

  • Reducing inter-personal contamination through shared items, e.g. menus
  • Reducing human contact and enforcing social distancing within premises
  • Ensuring overall capacity restrictions are not exceeded

Potential Solutions

  • Digital menus and signage to reduce the need for physical items which may be touched by multiple people
  • Contactless ordering and payment available on the customer’s own devices
  • Online booking and reservations systems to manage capacity and avoid overcrowding
  • App administered queue systems to limit the need for in-person queueing 
  • Capacity monitoring using smart sensors

Read our full post on how technology can help the hospitality sector recover.

Travel and Logistics

Key Challenges

  • Monitoring and enforcing reduced capacity on public transport
  • Enforcing social distancing on public transport
  • Ensuring up-to-date data is available for people to plan journeys safely
  • Encouraging people to use multiple transport options to reduce the load on key routes and methods of transport

Potential Solutions

  • Using booking data to understand live capacity and usage patterns
  • The full adoption of digital ticketing solutions 
  • Reduction of flexibility to assist with capacity issues - this can be enforced through fixed seats and ticket times
  • Cleaning data collected and displayed on trains to reassure the general public and monitor cleanliness levels
  • Demand-based pricing to encourage travel at non-peak times
  • Integrated transport data which allows assessment of the capacity and usage patterns of the whole transport network across public and private providers

Download our 21-page expert-led report on the future of transport and urban mobility 

Financial Services and Banking

Key Challenges

  • Digitising branch-based activities 
  • Reducing demand on call-centres and human agents
  • Ensuring vulnerable and elderly people can access banking services
  • Ensuring customers and businesses are protected against increased fraud activity
  • Ensuring services can keep up with the increasing volume of applications and customer requests

Potential Solutions

  • Enhancement of AI-powered fraud detection analysis and advanced pattern recognition software
  • Development of smarter fintech products to allow both businesses and consumers to speed up financial transactions and applications for lending.
  • Accessible solutions improved or developed to ensure all can access fintech products
  • Further investment in conversational services and self-serve platforms to relieve pressure on human staff


Key Challenges

  • Enforcing limits on store capacity
  • Increasing online capacity to ensure businesses can continue to trade and sell goods/services
  • Reducing physical contact between staff and customers in-store
  • Managing order fulfilment and capacity fluctuations during demand spikes 
  • Ensuring elderly or vulnerable customers can purchase and receive priority deliveries
  • Ensuring supplier payments and invoices can be processed without manual intervention

Potential Solutions

  • The rapid development of eCommerce capabilities or enhancement of existing platforms to cope with increased transaction
  • Click and collect available via mobile applications and online
  • Contactless payments via movable and online portals
  • Solid data linking from stock-management and online systems so that demand vs supply can be accurately tracked.
  • Development of CRM and customer profile data to allow for personalisation of service and flagging that the customer should receive accelerated delivery
  • Digitised invoices and payments systems to reduce paper-based interactions

Manufacturing and Construction

Key Challenges

  • Enforcing physical distancing in factories and on construction sites
  • Receiving and sending deliveries safely 
  • Ensuring cleaning is regularly taking place and workers are safeguarded
  • Minimising cross-contamination of physical materials
  • Ensuring supply and demand are met even with staff absences

Potential Solutions

  • Digitisation of all paper-based activities (H&S records, etc)
  • Smart cameras to monitor footfall on-site and alert to proximity or capacity issues
  • Wearables linked via Bluetooth configured to send proximity alerts between staff to enforce 2m distancing rule
  • Digital contact tracing of goods handled throughout the supply chain to ensure any contamination can be both traced and alerts can be sent out across the supply chain
  • Workplace occupancy planning using advanced algorithms and AI which can help identify problem areas and plan the best workspace setup and maximise safe working distances

Can we help?

Over the last few weeks, our team have been speaking to numerous companies about how technology can be leveraged to help their businesses reopen safely. Many of these discussions have been informal, with no obligation to move forward beyond an exploratory phone or Zoom call.

Our hope is that we can at least help organisations understand their options and gain a high-level understanding of what a solution might look like. 

If you'd like to chat through anything with our team, please do contact us.

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