The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of communication infrastructure in our lives.
Our work, education, entertainment – our physical, social and mental health – have all had to rely increasingly on communication networks while we aimed to slow down the spread of the virus and better understand the characteristics of COVID-19.
These unprecedented circumstances have brought many, often unforeseen, challenges.
To cope with increased traffic and heavy demand for connectivity, information and communication technology (ICT) policymakers and regulators have had to quickly adjust their strategies and prioritize their work to find the best solutions.
They have needed to learn from one another in real time – and the stakes could not be higher.
That’s why ITU hustled to launch the Global Network Resiliency Platform (#REG4COVID) in March, shortly after the declaration of pandemic lockdowns across most parts of the world.
Since then, ICT regulators and policymakers from all regions of the world have gone to the platform to share useful insights, best practices and lessons learned to boost network resiliency in these unprecedented times.
The REG4COVID platform helps them and other stakeholders around the globe by collecting and sharing initiatives and regulatory measures, showcasing examples of regulatory and policy actions. It allows everyone to consult freely the measures taken by others.
Over 400 contributions were received by mid-June, demonstrating a tremendous willingness to collaborate between countries and share information and experiences. This has helped many countries find useful insight and examples of how to best deal with the current crisis.
The platform has received positive endorsements from ITU Member States.
“At the beginning of the crisis, we found guidance and good examples on the REG4COVID platform,” says Inga Rimkevičienė, Head of the International and Public Relations Division of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Lithuania. “Later on, we could share our own good practice with other users of platform. On behalf of the Lithuanian administration, I want to thank ITU for the timely reaction to the crisis caused by pandemic.”
Today, the platform continues to build on its overview of measures taken during the crisis, as well as analyzing the impact of these measures.
A Global Symposium for Regulators discussion paper setting out key initiatives and lessons learned is now available on the platform.
This paper will also serve to help countries better cope with similar increased connectivity demands in the future, and will be discussed at this year’s Global Symposium for Regulators, starting on the 30 June with the leadership debate on “Resilient and secure digital connectivity for all – COVID-19 recovery and lessons learned for better preparedness and response”.
There is much more work to be done, but the number of initiatives and measures gathered on the platform shows how we can come together as a community – and how collaboration can help countries in challenging situations.
We now have a unique opportunity to build on this momentum.
At ITU, we hope that further collaboration can be maintained long after the COVID-19 crisis, and that the sharing of best practices on other key topics will prove just as open and fruitful.
For now, I urge everyone interested in building network resilience during – and after – COVID-19 to visit the REG4COVID platform to share what has worked and how it can be implemented elsewhere.