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Pandemic

The future is today! Many of us have understood that by going through various types of circumstances as a result of this Pandemic. Some think or even plan a return to “normality”, while for others this reality that we live in is already the new normality. Let's talk a little about all those visible or "invisible" changes that have changed our day to day.

Let's start, remembering a little how everything was in 2018 - although we have had different realities -. If I can add my personal experience, 2018 brought me the possibility of entering the digital world, much more than I understood. Teleworking became my reality, until in 2019 in Venezuela the crisis of the worst seen electricity service in our history began. 

When you are working remotely, priorities change, and that is what happened when COVID 19 became the main and determining factor in daily tasks. We know that there have been enormous changes in the area of ​​health, but And the other areas that are essential for life? What happened to education, for example, or in the economic-productive areas?

For the vast majority it was essential to go daily to an office to carry out activities. Now, it has been a real technological revolution, which has brought a change in the methodology for meeting objectives, plans, and projects without the need to appear in a workspace. 

It is already necessary to allocate a space in the house for the telecommuting, and the truth is that in some cases it became a challenge, while for others it has been a dream come true. Starting with the fact of having an adequate technological infrastructure, such as a stable Internet connection network, uninterrupted electrical service, and a good work tool, until starting from scratch to manipulate and understand how to telework. Because yes, not all of us are familiar with technological advances, and not all of us have access to quality services.

One of the challenges in taking into account is, How should governments adjust their policies to establish new strategies in this new era? And how to have real economic growth in this 4th digital age? Well, governments have an obligation to invest in technological infrastructure. Although, we know that not all countries have this planned in the State Plan. Therefore, investments and alliances may be key to reactivating the economy.

There are companies, institutions or organizations that require a workforce present in their daily activities, but fortunately there are others that have promoted teleworking or remote work, thus generating greater productivity in their employees. Because you have to see the positive in walking in pajamas while you work, right? They have realized that it is not necessary to force an employee to comply with office hours, as long as the work is done, and even offer them the opportunity to carry out other types of activities or jobs.

Some have wondered the reason for the increase in productivity, and well, in the first place, the simple fact of being at home gives a feeling of tranquility. Also not having to wake up to a loud alarm or deal with public transportation. There is a real possibility of starting any type of studies, and working hours are not an impediment to feeding the intellect, and there is nothing more valuable than knowledge.

The growth of learning platforms has been violent, training is a personal commitment, to be at the forefront. Udemy, Coursera, Emagister, Domestika and many other websites opened the window for people to understand how distance education works, and also lose their fear of trying. What does this imply? That quality controls must be implemented, innovation must be a fundamental pillar in the content that will be taught by teachers and instructors on these platforms.

Even mastering new languages ​​will be a key point for professional growth, since much content found on the web is in languages ​​such as English, Portuguese or French. Mobile applications and other types of platforms for language learning were promoted by the pandemic, the use of Rosetta Stone, Ablo, distance courses such as Open English, will continue to grow steadily in the years to come. And, for those who only offered face-to-face classes, they had to start developing a virtual space where they can impart knowledge and receive the corresponding monetary compensation.

Other platforms that have had an impressive boom are those that offer jobs or short jobs (projects). Freelancer.es or Fiverr are some of the platforms that have experienced a large flow of high subscribers, both to offer a job and to opt as a candidate for a project. These have a staff that acts as a recruiter, if your profile fits for a project they can offer it to you, and if not, you can personally carry out searches depending on the skills you have.

On the other hand, it is essential to take into account that percentage of the population that does not even have the possibility of having a computer at home. Just as there are people who have found it a dream to do everything from home, there is a population that has been a challenge or rather a nightmare. The UNICEF issued figures in which it specifies that a significant percentage of children and adolescents cannot access distance education, due to their location, economic condition or lack of technological literacy. 

Social inequality must be attacked, or the gap between “social classes” could widen, making evident the vulnerability of some against the possibility of others to fight against the disease, unemployment. In other words, extreme poverty could once again become a point of attack for governments.

In some countries, the development of technologies such as 5G hastened, since the demand for a stable web connection increased considerably, as did the need to have access to mobile devices from which all kinds of activities can be carried out. Augmented and virtual reality have taken a very important field in recent years, companies have used these technologies for remote work and to be able to visualize modifications or make decisions about their projects. 

The confinement has brought negative things, but also positive things. A few months ago, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued bulletins specifying how in the first months of confinement air temperature decreased, along with emissions of C02. 

What does this suggest? Perhaps teleworking can help reduce the disaster that we ourselves have caused in the environment – which does not mean that it will completely placate the environmental crisis or stop climate change. If we think logically the fact of staying at home requires a greater consumption of electricity, the use of renewable energies should be established as mandatory, to counteract all activity. However, some countries have taken it in a different way, increasing the price of tariffs and placing taxes for the consumption of services such as drinking water and electricity, generating other types of problems for citizens (mental health).

The proper functioning of the health system must be paramount, it is a right to guarantee the preservation of life, and social security must be of quality and accessible to all –and this definitely is a challenge-. We are very clear that not all people can afford treatment for COVID 19 or other chronic diseases, or have the purchasing power to pay for a doctor at home, much less pay for expenses in a private clinic.

Something that has come to light in this time of restrictions is the other consequences that the pandemic has had at the mental health level. Many people suffered and continue to suffer from depression and anxiety according to PAHO-WHO data. Related to confinement (lack of physical contact, social relations), loss of jobs, closure of businesses/companies, death of family members, even breakup of relationships. Many cases of domestic violence have come to light, situations of family conflict can be a trigger to suffer from a psychological disorder or an alert to identify mental health problems. 

Some questions to reflect, have we really learned the lesson? Are we willing to face technological challenges? What is the possibility that we all have the same opportunities? Are we prepared for a next pandemic? Answer yourselves and let's continue learning how to turn these circumstances from negative to positive, there is great potential to exploit at a technological and social level and we have also discovered skills that we did not even imagine we had, it is one more step to be better.

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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