Internet Mitigates Impact of COVID 19 on Work, Education and Social Life
Three noted members of the regional technical community highlighted how the Internet has become an essential tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the quarantine and social distancing measures implemented due to the coronavirus, the Internet has managed to maintain social relationships, allowing billions of people across Latin America and the Caribbean to work from home and as many children and teenagers to attend classes through online learning platforms. Likewise, the Internet has not only kept the regional (and global) economy ticking thanks to telecommuting and e-banking, it has also contributed to our entertainment with on-demand video options at unusual hours and online gaming available 24/7.
Moderated by Franco Micallizzi, the LACNIC Podcast brought together Nicolás Antoniello, Technical Engagement Manager at ICANN; Lía Solís, General Manager at LACNOG, and Carlos Martínez, LACNIC CTO, to discuss the role of the Internet during the pandemic.
To break the ice, Carlos Martínez observed that, since the pandemic was declared, the past three months have been very strange. “Our lives changed dramatically overnight. Luckily, this sudden change was accompanied by a tool that helped reduce its impact: the Internet,” he said.
Thanks to the Internet, a large part of the population was able to continue working and managed to socialize with their family and friends. The Internet also allowed children and teenagers to continue learning as teachers used various applications to continue their work.
“It has become clear that the Internet is part of the infrastructure of society as we know it today,” Martínez added.
Martínez also noted that the pandemic has led society to put into practice, very quickly and practically at the same time, a set of possibilities that had always been available.
In turn, Antoniello reaffirmed that, in recent months, the Internet has been the quintessential medium for communication, work and socialization. “A significant part of the lives of many of us moved to the Internet, which has been the great enabler that has allowed us to continue to work and maintain our social ties.”
Nevertheless, Antoniello reminded everyone that approximately half of the global population is still unable to connect to the Internet. “In my case, it’s difficult to imagine what these three or four months would have been like without the Internet. I wouldn’t have been able to work at all. The Internet is the star in this context,” he stressed.
Solís then mentioned Bolivia as an example, a place where telecommuting was quite uncommon before the pandemic. “Once the pandemic broke out, working from home has produced exceptional results. For companies, the most important challenge has been quickly investing in and installing technology. These efforts will no longer be necessary in the future,” she said.
The Internet did not collapse. The three experts demystified social media users’ widespread concern regarding the potential collapse of the Internet due to its increased use. “The Internet did not and will not collapse,” Antoniello sentenced.
“There is sufficient evidence that the work that has been done in recent years has paid off, as the Internet has operated without any major inconveniences during this situation, much as it usually does,” he added.
In his opinion, the community should continue to work on the security and resilience of the mechanisms or systems that are critical to the functioning of the Internet, including the DNS and routing (the mechanisms and paths followed by information transmitted over a network) in general, “even more so now that the work of organizations is moving from their offices to the homes of their employees, which are typically more prone to vulnerabilities,” said the ICANN expert.
In the same sense, Solís said that this pandemic has laid bare the importance of promoting local traffic. “People have better perceived the proximity of content,” she added.
The immediate future holds major challenges, such as maintaining Internet stability, mainstreaming education in security, and attempting to promote local traffic and decrease our reliance on international links.
Statistics show that Internet traffic increased by 20% to 40% and changes at the local level include the flattening of the on-demand video consumption curve.
An enjoyable and livable life. In closing the podcast, Solís mentioned capacity building as a positive aspect of the pandemic. In this sense, Antoniello stressed the fact that multiple lessons have been learned. “Considering these changes, as users, as providers, we must understand that an increasing number of companies and organizations will allow their employees the possibility of working from home. Device manufacturers must also understand the behavior for which each device is designed based on these new consumption patterns,” he added
According to LACNIC’s CTO, “the pandemic accelerated a decade of digital transformation and condensed it into two months. Many of these transformations are here to stay.”
Click here to listen to the podcast (in Spanish)