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Edge computing to transform South Africa’s healthcare

JOHANNESBURG – EDGE computing is forecast to alter South Africa’s health sector.

This coincides with the most diversified economy in Africa recovering from the most severe outbreak of the COVID-19 in the continent.

Rudie Opperman, Manager, Engineering and Training, Middle East and Africa at Axis Communications, said edge computing had emerged as a “game-changing” technology for many industries, and the healthcare sector is no exception.

“In particular, South Africa’s healthcare industry could significantly benefit from this technology’s potential,” he said.

Edge computing allows devices in remote locations to process data at the “edge” of the network, either by the device or a local server.

Opperman mentioned the government’s long-term strategy is to improve the health of South Africans by “creating a healthy, tech-savvy population that embraces existing technological innovations, changing how we live, work, and innovate as productive global citizens.”

He said with the help of edge computing, healthcare providers in the country could transform how they deliver care to patients, making it safer, more accessible, efficient and practical to directly address these objectives.

Devices that do edge computing every day are already in use.

They include smart speakers, watches and phones.

Edge computing devices, such as sensors, medical equipment and mobile devices are located at the edge of the network, close to the end users.

“We already use all edge devices as they collect and process data locally while interacting with the physical world,” Opperman said.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, 75 percent of enterprise-generated data will be created outside of centralised data centres.

The prospect of moving so much data in time- or disruption-sensitive situations is seen as putting strain on the global internet, which can exacerbate congestion and disruption.

In response, IT architects have shifted focus from the central data centre to the edge of the infrastructure, taking storage and computing resources from the centre and moving them to the point where the data is generated.

Oppeman believes adopting machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented and virtual reality for patient care and training could transform South African healthcare.

“To produce valuable and instructive outputs in a healthcare system, we need extensive real-time data processing capabilities and close access to the computational power that edge computing devices provide.”

– CAJ News

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