Published: 24th March 2020
UN launches new global platform to keep information networks 'safer, stronger' during COVID-19 pandemic
Telecommunication networks have never before been as vital to "our health and safety, and to keep our economy and society working" as they are during the current crisis
The United Nations' telecom body has launched a new platform to help global networks remain safer, stronger and more connected during the current coronavirus crisis, where millions are being encouraged to stay put at home, according to the specialised agency's chief.
"The new platform will assist governments and the private sector in ensuring that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all," the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said.
Telecommunication networks have never before been as vital to "our health and safety, and to keep our economy and society working" as they are during the current crisis, where millions are being encouraged to stay put at home, the ITU chief maintained.
He has asked instructed his team to "leverage without any delay" the new platform in aid of existing networks to help countries and industry cope with the increasing stress being put on global networks."
"At stake is our ability, as one human family, to give health workers everywhere, the tools they need to carry out their duties, to allow all those that can to work from home, to trade online, to ensure that hundreds of millions of children and young people keep up with their studies, and to keep in touch with loved ones, wherever they are," he said.
The Global Network Resiliency Platform will also share best practices and initiatives that have been put in place during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that telecommunication services are available to the maximum extent possible.
Moreover, the portal will collect relevant information and expertise on actions that telecommunication policymakers and others in the regulatory community can use to ensure that their networks serve their country's needs.
"This new ITU platform will provide countries struggling to find appropriate solutions to ensure their networks' resiliency with relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on how to cope with the stresses faced by their infrastructure," the agency chief said.
"And because time is of the essence, it will give those countries that still have time to prepare an opportunity to learn from what is being done elsewhere from emergency spectrum reassignments to guidelines for consumers on responsible use."
Serving initially as an informative tool, the portal will soon be expanded to provide an interactive and engaging platform for continuous sharing throughout the pandemic and beyond.
"The crisis we are in today calls for solidarity," he spelled out. "In these uncertain times, we should not forget all those around the world who still lack access to the Internet." The ITU has long promoted universal, reliable and affordable connectivity, and will continue to push on all these fronts and advocate until everyone is connected.
"I call on all ITU members, from the public and private sector alike, to come together to build the best platform we can so that information and communication technology can help defeat COVID-19 and make us safer, stronger and more connected," Zhao said.