How tech startups can improve infrastructure, By Rarzack Olaegbe

Teaching digital babes how to fish, By Rarzack Olaegbe
Rarzack Olaegbe

Everything needs improvement. If a football club is at its zenith, it can still improve. No matter how profitable a business, it can improve. No matter how skillful you are, you can improve. There is room for improvement. To improve is the goal daily. With technology in the mix, it can become a reality. But we do not have many technology startups whose goal is to improve existing infrastructure.

We have new road networks. High-rise buildings, malls and hospitals sprout daily. But expected changes are unnoticed. There are not many tech startups in the construction industry. Instead, startups have concentrated on payment and remittances.

No matter how skillful you are, you can improve. There is room for improvement.

Citizens can access live data. Research has shown that this allows them to view real-time reporting of a structure’s condition. The managers will have the same data. They will set maintenance and emergency timelines. They will evade disasters. Ukconstructionmedia.co.uk informed, “A key sensor can be worth a thousand visits by an inspection engineer.” The sensor can alert to different patterns of frequency and life.

Technology can improve infrastructure’s longevity. It can alert during extreme weather conditions. In Greece’s Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge, the structure’s inbuilt sensors detected abnormal vibrations in the cables. Engineers installed additional weight to dampen cables. Without technology, inspectors will not know its fragility.

On the one hand

In Nepal, Rumee Singh is using technology to improve infrastructures. Working with her husband, her blockchain-focused startup has supported and launched initiatives in education. Finance. Healthcare. And agriculture. Singh returned to Nepal after 13 years in the USA, working in corporate communication and financial literacy programmes.

Speaking to restofworld.org, Singh said, “As a developing country, we are still struggling with basic issues that you tend to take for granted. In Nepal, patients’ families have the burden of managing blood themselves, and women in maternity are heavily affected.” To overcome the challenge, Hamro LifeBank leveraged digital technology and data analytics. The company digitized blood banks and created a harmonized donor database. It generated a data-centric blood hotline. “With blood, the power of information at the right time can be the answer to a life-and-death situation,” she said.

Aside from this, she is using blockchain technology to build greater financial inclusion. Nepal is prone to natural disasters. These situations intensified with a significant population living in extreme poverty. She said women and girls are vulnerable to inequalities from cultural beliefs and traditional practices.

She is working to benefit marginalized communities. She said a lack of digital readiness in vulnerable areas makes it challenging. The onboarding hurdle in lack of digital literacy makes processes expensive and a challenge. More initiatives focusing on building impact can have ripple effects.

On the other hand

Since Nepal is leveraging the potency of technology, Lagos can do it. Lagos state can adopt technology to improve its tourism. Sports will benefit from technology. The fashion industry in Lagos will quadruple if technology is incorporated. Lagos could be the carnival capital of the world.

The technology could make the city of Lagos much better than what we have. Music has benefitted from technology. But water transportation is lagging. The technology to make this viable is available. Having a light rail between the road networks is welcome. Turkey has it. Lagos can do it, too.

From the side

You need innovation to achieve what Singh did.

You have overrated innovation. You cannot fix problems easily.

Therefore, we should sit on our hands.

No. To fix a problem is a tall task. Besides, you need the funding. Investment is required. The right network has to be available. A tech startup cannot dabble into improving infrastructure without knowing where the butter will come. Or who will support it? Or who will fund it?

A tech startup cannot dabble into improving infrastructure without knowing where the butter will come.

Are you saying we should discourage infrastructure-focused tech startups?

No.

Do you know that sustaining a business is challenging?

How does Singh do it in Nepal?

Maybe we need to go to Nepal.

That is an improvement.

*Olaegbe (psalmsonolaegbe@gmail.com)