Connectivity is an essential part of our lives, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased our reliance on this necessity. Since the beginning of this crisis, global methods of education, employment, purchasing transactions, and socialising have changed drastically. For some, this may be a much more permanent change that will define the importance of connectivity for years to come. Let us explore how these have changed since the emergence of COVID-19.
The beginning of the pandemic signalled early that education could not operate in the same way – and it has now become clear that over 1.5 billion children need online schooling as in person teaching is unsafe. Such a situation is difficult to achieve in full due to the global disparities that exist in the world today. For instance, around half of the population within Sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to 4G networks, and in many parts of the world, 2G is still common. An Ericsson report has found that 88 percent of white-collar workers now use video calls, and 60 percent reported an increase in their usage of such calls. Without adequate connectivity, children will inevitably miss out on essential education, and workers may end up working in unsafe conditions or be at risk of losing their employment.
Various lockdowns across the world and the general risk associated with going to shops in person has meant that individuals have become increasingly reliant upon making their purchases exclusively online where possible. Since the beginning of the pandemic, online transactions have increased by 74 percent globally, and internet providers have seen double-digit increase in traffic, with significant contributions from online purchasing transactions. This can have significant positive effects – the ITU found that in the medium term, countries with the best connectivity infrastructure could mitigate almost 50 percent of the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A global effort to ensure adequate connectivity is therefore imperative not only for the individuals and businesses to sustain themselves, but also for global economic recovery from the pandemic.
Finally, the emergence of COVID-19 has redefined the context within which risk-free socialisation can take place. Many families and friends are heavily reliant upon online methods of communication in order to keep up with each other. In an Ericsson survey, 83 percent of respondents claimed that information and communications technology (ICT) has helped them significantly in coping with the impact of the pandemic – with over 74 percent citing the ability to stay in touch with family and friends in particular. The increase in this kind of communication also reflects itself through other online social activities – such as the 75 percent increase in online gaming compared to pre-COVID levels. Connectivity is now increasingly an essential part of how individuals communicate with each other and maintain relationships – for many, it functions as an additional tool to cope with the pandemic.
As the World Bank have so aptly put, this unprecedented crisis has made it clearer than ever before that connectivity is a public good. During this time, connectivity can not only help many individuals and businesses cope with the impact of COVID-19, but also assist in economic recovery from the pandemic. At Crossflow, we want to aid this aim. Crossflow SMART Modular Systems can supply clean, sustainable energy and increased connectivity in those areas where our turbines operate. This is more important than ever before due to the COVID crisis, and a collective effort is necessary in order to ensure adequate connectivity globally.
Ericsson. (2020a). Ericsson Mobility Report. (online). Available from: https://www.ericsson.com/49da93/assets/local/mobility-report/documents/2020/june2020-ericsson-mobility-report.pdf (Accessed January 2021).
Diop, M. (2020). COVID-19 reinforces the need for connectivity. (online). World Bank Blogs. 29 April. Available from: https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/covid-19-reinforces-need-connectivity (Accessed January 2021)
ITU. (2020). Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Digital Infrastructure. (online). Available from: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Conferences/GSR/2020/Documents/GSR-20_Impact-COVID-19-on-digital-economy_DiscussionPaper.pdf (Accessed January 2021).
World Economic Forum. (2020). The Impact of Mobile Technology on the Response to COVID-19. (online). Available from: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Accelerator_Program_5G_Outlook_Report_2020.pdf (Accessed January 2021).
Ericsson. (2020b). Lessons from COVID-19: Connectivity matters in a time of crisis. (online). Ericsson. 27 April. Available from: https://www.ericsson.com/en/patents/articles/lessons-from-covid-19-connectivity-matters (Accessed January 2021). Deloitte. (2020). Connectivity Resilience Amidst COVID-19. (online). Available from: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/ng/Documents/technology/ng-connectivity-resilience-amidst-COVID-19_07052020.pdf (Accessed January 2021).