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  • Writer's pictureDean Anthony Gratton

Covid19: The Infection in our Infrastructure

Updated: May 26, 2020

We are in the strangest of times. The Coronavirus or Covid-19 has presented many new challenges for humanity: Both for us individually and for us collectively.

Fighting the boredom

The British government, as well as other governments around the world, has been quite clear, as to how we should manage our personal well-being and assist others who might be vulnerable at this time. With the ongoing pandemic, people across the world have been encouraged to maintain a social distance and to work remotely, if possible. Likewise, those who think they are infected or are experiencing symptoms should self-isolate – even Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, is currently self-isolating, since he confessed to be experiencing Coronavirus symptoms. He has also spent a night in hospital for further tests (at the time of writing).

For me, there was one particular challenge that presented itself. Our wireless and telecommunications infrastructure that supports the very backbone of the internet was pushed to an unknown limit quite unexpectedly. Similarly, our cellular network experienced again, an unexpected demand, as people were encouraged to work from home. With many people maintaining a social distance or self-isolating, boredom inevitably creeps in and what else are you going to do?

Keeping your distance

Now, whilst there are obvious choices for some, others may choose to binge watch those television series that they’ve been meaning to dip into over the last few months and now, we have the time to do it. With some government advisors suggesting that the lockdown might be relaxed in a few weeks, others suggest that this might go on longer – some even suggest that it will possibly be up to six months before things return to normal.

Whilst we saw in the press that Amazon Prime, YouTube and Netflix plan to temporarily downgrade the quality of their steaming content to help alleviate congestion, those who are working from home are more eager than ever for such services to be at full capacity. We have even seen news reporters from Sky News and the BBC, for example, sitting at home providing us the news from their living rooms with the obligatory bookcase, as a backdrop to their report.

Moreover, the British government’s daily Coronavirus update only permits reporters to ask their questions regarding the progress of the ongoing battle with the disease and the government’s associated success remotely, where a television sits within the room and questions are directed at the health minister and other government officials.

Improving our fixed and wireless infrastructure

Now this must surely raise the question: “Can this remote working ethos become a part-time or more permanent way-of-working?” Have we accidentally learned that we don’t need to take our cars into the office and have demonstrated that we can actually work from home instead? Naturally, essential or key workers need to commute to their respective areas of work but, largely, I dare say, it’s an excellent example of a new way of working that this incident has bought to light.

The Coronavirus pandemic and our need to maintain social distancing and to isolate where necessary has surfaced several valuable lessons. Firstly, we have noticed some cracks in our infrastructure, namely, our national telecommunications infrastructure, both fixed and wireless, might not be fully capable on a national level. In other words, if everyone across the UK were to sit at home and stream, would our infrastructure withstand such overwhelming demand and capacity? As such, our fixed and wireless infrastructure may need to be improved to better prepare us for such demand in the future, since some reports suggest that this will inevitably happen again.

You see, if we can’t ‘connect’ with our hands, then let’s be sure that we can always connect with technology.

Lessons learned

Incidentally, Houseparty and Zoom became the favourite audio and video conferencing software choice for many during this pandemic, allowing families, employers and employees to remain connected. In particular Zoom, became the choice for our British prime minister, who used the video conferencing software for his cabinet meetings, but this suitably awarded critics and those who clearly had too much time on their hands to pull the software apart and reveal several weaknesses in its security – it didn’t help when the prime minister inadvertently revealed the Zoom ID for his conference!

It’s a lesson learned.

This is somewhat sad to mention, but it seems that, for a lot of communities across rural, urban and suburban Britain, it’s probably the first time that neighbours have really talked with each other, albeit remotely. It has been our collective remit to ensure that others are safe during this time, and to ensure that the elderly and vulnerable have their shopping and medicines delivered to their doorsteps, as well as other necessities that family members may have ordinarily arranged. It’s sad to note that, whilst we are all capable of being united and supportive of one another, why has it taken this pandemic to truly bring us together?

Another lesson learned.

Until next time…

And lastly, the process of social distancing and self-isolation is nothing more than a test of our close relationships. Many of us have partners and children, and there’s a need to continually entertain the kids as well as each other – it’s so incredibly difficult. It might indeed be testing for us individually, however, this pandemic will test leaderships across the world – they need to get it right, as we witness a frightening increase in the number of people who have sadly passed.

The world is watching and waiting!

In the meantime, I wish everyone to stay safe, stay at home and ultimately to save lives.

So, this is where a ‘still happily married despite isolation’ Dr G, signs off.


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a technology influencer, analyst & futurist 

I dispel the rumours, gossip and hype surrounding new technology

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