COVID-19 Makes Universal Digital Access, Cooperation Essential: UN tech agency

Female participants at the Investment in Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation in the Era of Digitalization for Sustainable Development event (Photo via UN)
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(United Nations News) As the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes the way in which we work, keep in touch, go to school and shop for essentials – across the world – it has never been more important to bridge the digital divide for the 3.6 billion people who remain off-line.

That’s according to top experts from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), who outlined the implications of the new coronavirus pandemic during a digital briefing on Tuesday to correspondents in Geneva.

“Digital new society already came into our life, but we never imagined that we could be forced to stay at home and to use the digital worlds to connect ourselves and make our business continue. So that is something absolutely new”, said the ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

He praised workers in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector during the pandemic, described by another ITU official as the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic.

Internet traffic ‘tripled’

“We should also recognize that ICT services and ICT networks, are not so easy to manage, because nobody could imagine, under such circumstances, that traffic could to some extent triple”, Mr. Zhao said, referencing the massive surge for videoconferencing and smartphone call capacity that the health crisis has engendered. One important challenge has been the massive shift in broadband usage in urban office buildings, toward the suburbs and rural areas, where people are now telecommuting from their homes.

Read more at: United Nations News

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