USE OF ICT DURING COVID-19 NUNC VIVERRA IMPERDIET ENIM.
FUSCE EST. VIVAMUS A TELLUS.
PELLENTESQUE HABITANT MORBI
TRISTIQUE SENECTUS ET NETUS.
USE OF ICT DURING COVID-19
In today's global network society, social structure and organizational arrangements are largely made up of information
networks powered by informational and communication technologies (ICTs) (Castells, 2000). ICTs, broadly defined here to
include internet, platforms, networks, phones, apps, and databases, as well as underlying infrastructure, are a pivotal factor in
the existing social order, particularly during the COVID‐19 global pandemic. The importance of ICTs extends beyond
identifying, tracing, understanding, managing, treating, and perceiving pandemics. More fundamentally, ICTs are our best
chance to maintain social order during a pandemic.
Using ICTs during the COVID‐19 pandemic illustrates both the limitations of and opportunities for ICT use. On the negative
side, this global health crisis is seen as an information crisis (2020). There is insufficient information for decision making,
unreliable information for healthy public debate, inaccessible information to meet people's daily information needs, and
spread of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news. At the same time, ICTs allow for faster responses by supporting
large‐scale participation and mass collaborations across state and national boundaries. This includes, for example: involving
new entities in existing humanitarian collaboration network (e.g., volunteer and technical communities who assist during
disasters, including pandemics); facilitating new forms of disaster relief activities (e.g., digital humanitarians, online
self‐support groups); and enabling diverse civic engagement (e.g., digital archives of deleted posts to counter censorship,
efforts to counter disinformation campaigns).
ICTs are more than external tools to accomplish goals, in the deterministic sense. Instead, ICTs are bounded by power
dynamics and are embedded in contexts. Taking a social informatics perspective, we emphasize the importance of the
mutually shaping process between ICTs and society during a global health crisis. Thus, this panel focuses on the use of ICTs by
different stakeholders, including individuals, nonprofit organizations, and governments around the globe
ICT AND PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE CONTEXT OF
The globe is currently gripped by the deadliest and most widespread
pandemic it has faced in over a century. Confronted by accelerating death
tolls and widespread fear, societies around the world have also been forced
to acknowledge points of stress in their economic and social fabrics that had
long gone overlooked. In the midst of this turmoil, ICT has played an
essential role in facilitating the safe relief and treatment of affected
populations. ICT has also shown itself to be essential both to bolstering long-
term resiliency against future pandemics and to resolving the secondary
challenges that emerge within a socially distanced environment. However,
involving ICT in in pandemic relief and prevention carries with it its own set of
challenges involving transparency, accountability, and privacy. Governments
which apply ICT must ensure that far-reaching crisis measures do not
become permanently entrenched in society, and that measures which are
taken are deemed fair, proportional and just.
ICT INITIATIVES IN INDIA TO COMBAT
The great loss of life and economic damage COVID-19 has wrought across
the world has not left India untouched. In these tough times, Information and
Communications Technology (ICT) has emerged as a key means of both
resolving challenges caused by the pandemic and responding to the new
reality of the everyday. Government at the central and state levels has
actively engaged with the private sector to develop ICT solutions, particularly
identification, isolation, contact tracing, and treatment, to deal with the
evolving situation in the country. Of particular benefit have been the growing
number of mobile applications and Artificial Intelligence (AI) based tools
which have emerged during this time. However, the use of ICT involves its
own set of challenges, especially concerning privacy safeguards.
Governments must ensure the use of ICT is fair and proportional not only
during the times of pandemic, but also in the post-COVID19 era. Countries
like South Korea and Hong Kong illustrate emergent best practices for the
use of ICT in such crises.