Disaster movie representations of pandemics often feature catastrophic breakdowns of critical infrastructure as high infection rates and preventative quarantine measures trigger systemic collapse. It has been striking how resilient systems have been in the context of the current crisis. The lights have remained on. Our garbage has still been collected. All due to the heroic efforts of key workers. Despite this success, there are areas where new opportunities and needs are emerging – in cyber-security, digital connectivity and asset management and maintenance.
These opportunities have different triggers and we explore them through the three time-horizons we have discussed in previous chapters of this Innovation Brief:
- Right now: the emergency response – The urgent need to contain COVID-19 has stimulated demand for rapid-response solutions and collapsed traditional barriers to the adoption of new approaches. One area with increased demand, driven by the huge upswing in remote working, is cyber-security. How should organisations minimise risks in this area while ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations?
- What next? The transitional restart – Having managed the initial crisis, what might the opportunities be to help the world step cautiously into a post-lockdown, pre-vaccine period? As higher levels of remote working are likely to be sustained, investing in our digital infrastructure is critical – and will open up a range of new possibilities.
- Beyond recovery and into the ‘new normal’ – What can we take from the response and restart phases that create opportunities to answer changes in demand and build back better over the longer term? The impact of COVID-19 reminds us of the importance of accelerating progress to a net-zero world and makes maintenance of some parts of our infrastructure more risky. In both cases, we see the acceleration of technologies which were already being explored.