Annual Report 2019-2020

COVID-19 related activities/responses

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has plunged the world into an unprecedented crisis, with billions confined to their homes worldwide, now relying on information and communication technology (ICT) for continued access to education, healthcare, work and essential goods and services. From teleworking and e-commerce to telemedicine and remote learning, COVID-19 is the first pandemic in human history where ICT and social media are being used on a massive scale, driving the global collective response to the disease and digital transformation across the world.

The COVID-19 crisis we are in today highlights the fundamental importance of ICT to economies and societies everywhere. It also calls for solidarity, as too many people around the word are still unconnected, left to fend for themselves in these very difficult and uncertain times. In response, ITU has called on the global ICT community and others to rise to the challenge and strengthen the multilateral, collective digital response to COVID-19.

Some examples of ITU’s work on this subject are:

Equipping policy-makers and regulators: ITU has launched the Global Network Resiliency Platform (REG4COVID) Igniting global action: ITU was instrumental in the adoption of the Broadband Commission Agenda for Action Collaborating for a united response: ITU and the office of the UN Under Secretary-General Fabrizio Hochschild have been co-organizing a series of webinars on "Digital Cooperation during COVID19 and beyond." Preparing emergency telecommunications: ITU has launched new guidelines to assist countries in developing national emergency telecommunication plans Supporting health solutions: ITU, WHO and UNICEF are working with telecommunication companies to text people directly on their mobile phones with vital health messaging to help protect them from COVID-19. WHO and ITU are also reviewing how frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data can be leveraged to diagnose, contain, and predict future outbreaks.

Harnessing artificial intelligence: The first few episodes of the new AI for Good Webinar Series focus on global pandemic response and how AI and ICT can be used to combat COVID-19. Exploring responses by smart cities: Cities house over half of the world’s population and risk amplifying the COVID-19 pandemic. The United for Smart Sustainable Cities (U4SSC), a UN initiative coordinated by ITU, UNECE and UN-Habitat, has created a new workstream exploring the solutions and best practices used by cities to address COVID-19. Protecting children online: Together with a range of partners, ITU has released a technical note to help governments, ICT companies, educators and parents protect children in lockdown Enabling learning and education: ITU has joined the COVID-19 Global Education Coalition led by UNESCO to ensure that learning continues for the more than 1.5 billion students and youth across the planet affected by school and university closures. Virtual WSIS TalkX and WSIS Stocktaking COVID-19 Response – ICT Case Repository: The Virtual WSIS TalkX focus on content generated by WSIS Stakeholders highlighting their response to COVID-19 using ICTs. The WSIS Stocktaking ICT Case Repository is collecting projects and activities on how ICTs are assisting stakeholders in their everyday life, work, and in combating challenges caused by COVID-19.