Editor’s note: Nicole Catchpole is Senior Analyst at Technology Business Research.

HAMPTON, N.H. – The use cases for edge computing were already vast and varied prior to the pandemic. Self-driving cars, heartmonitoring devices, crop-sensing machinery and inventory-management sensors are examples that scratch the surface of how the low latency, bandwidth management and advanced analytics afforded by edge computing are valuable in a variety of industries.

Edge computing’s core value proposition of low latency for immediate real-time insights is amplified even more in essential industries like healthcare, especially during a crisis.

As COVID-19 began to emerge as a threat in the United States and Europe, TBR analysts anticipated a potential acceleration in the use of telemedicine brought on by the concern among doctors that they might infect their patients, an obstacle seemingly inconsequential prior to the pandemic. Since March, the predictions have proved true as telemedicine has quickly risen to the forefront as healthcare workers are becoming more efficient and avoiding the risk of overcrowded hospitals by urging more of their patients to wear devices that track basic vitals.

Countries such as China have experimented with edge technology, deploying drones and robots and relying on their efficiency and accuracy to help identify and treat COVID-19 patients. In addition, while factories have always been one of the most compelling use cases for edge computing, this trend has accelerated given the population’s incredible reliance on ecommerce. In factories, edge technology not only enables efficiency and provides cost savings but also promotes safety as sensors and devices can perform many of the tasks previously handled by people.

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Along with social distancing and remote work, edge technology is enabling these factories and healthcare facilities to safely stay up and running while the rest of us have had to stay home.


Unprecedented times require organizations to reconfigure previously established strategies to meet unforeseen demands. Leading cloud vendors prior to the pandemic were already investing in edge computing as critical to address challenges around bandwidth, data analytics and latency. While officials around the world are now wrestling with what safe and effective re-entry should look like as the pandemic subsides in many areas, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to how to go about this.

While advancements such as smart cities seemed to be a thing of the future, certain smart solutions will be implemented sooner than predicted to assist in the transition to the new normal, and the technological enablement will be powered in many cases at the edge.

For example, edge devices strategically placed around high-traffic areas can monitor foot-traffic patterns, influence the timing around loosening or tightening regulations, and facilitate better safety measures to protect populations.

IBM Worker Insights is one such example that addresses these concerns as the world reacclimates, enabling monitoring and management of occupancy while aggregating and analyzing data to ensure the implementation of effective safety measures.

Rob High, CTO of Edge Computing for IBM (NYSE: IBM), introduced the solution as building on “the IBM Maximo Worker Insights product for aggregating alerts to worker safety concerns, mashing those alerts to a 2D site map to create a heat map, and notifying supervisors via a smartphone app to enable them to address those issues.

The product has been extended to leverage analytics on the edge that is able to draw inferences about whether employees and clients are wearing their face masks properly, are breaking social distance guidelines, whether too many people are congregating in a confined area for too long.” The inferences created at the edge and enabled by IBM Worker Insights are a prime example of how more vendors are using the pandemic to create new use cases for edge deployment and funneling their investment dollars into furthering the adoption of this technology.


On enterprise, societal and consumer levels, edge technology will undoubtedly play a major role in tandem with migration to the cloud. The distributed nature of edge computing is largely symbolic of the dispersed workforce and speaks volumes about the world’s new reliance on devices and related technologies.

Data-driven insights, low latency in mission-critical situations, and advanced analytics are increasingly important and are all factors that highlight edge computing’s increasing relevancy. While the focus in the short term is on keeping people safe and businesses in mission-critical industries running, it is also important to note the extent to which edge computing is becoming entrenched in our day-to-day lives. As the world starts to move toward the new normal, edge technology will only become more central to supporting the way we live.