The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the virtual Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), from 2 to 17 November 2020. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
>> BARBARA WANNER: -- in so doing create a framework of trust. I'm your remote moderator. I will be watching the chat room and feeding those questions to our moderators and speakers. There have been a few changes in the speaker lineup since we first filed this workshop.
Our moderator will be Chris Boyer who is Vice-President of global security and technology policy at AT&T.
And our speakers today will be Doreen Bogdan-Martin whom many of you know, Director of the ITU Telecommunications Development Bureau; Kathryn Condello, Senior Director for National Security and Emergency Preparedness at Lumen; and Professor Toshiya Jitsuzumi, from Japan.
A very important person who maybe is not on the screen before you now but will be playing an important role is our substantive rapporteur who will be preparing the report of this workshop for the IGF archives and all of posterity. That is Susan Moore, also from Lumen.
As many of you probably have observed and maybe even been recipient of a question, the UN has asked IGF speakers and IGF participants to state their voluntary commitment to carry forward the goals and objectives of the IGF as carried in the Tunis Agenda. I would ask everyone to avail themselves of that opportunity and I will be posting a link for you to do that in the chat.
I will wait for Chris. I invite everybody to have a really stimulating discussion and I look forward to all of your comments. Thank you.
>> BARBARA WANNER: Chris, you should be able to speak. I just promoted you to speaker.
>> CHRIS BOYER: I have to figure out, is my video coming through?
>> BARBARA WANNER: Not yet. On the lower left-hand side you'll see a video camera. Click on that and you should be able to ...
>> CHRIS BOYER: Hold on a second. I've used Zoom a bunch of times. I don't know why -- this is weird. It usually has me in there. Select microphone.
Audio settings. Hmm. Weird.
>> BARBARA WANNER: In terms of the ground rules, everyone, if you would like to make a comment when Chris invites participants to make a comment, just raise your hand. I will acknowledge it and give you an opportunity to make your statement.
just a ground rule I wanted to clarify.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Barbara, are you still there?
>> BARBARA WANNER: I am.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Cool. Just making sure --
>> BARBARA WANNER: You're on mute now.
Chris, why don't you just get started. We can figure out a way to get you up and running. Let's see.
>> CHRIS BOYER: There it goes.
>> BARBARA WANNER: There you go.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Got it, cool.
>> BARBARA WANNER: Great.
>> CHRIS BOYER: All right. Well, welcome, everyone. This morning, this is Chris Boyer from AT&T, moderating today's session.
And Barbara, do you want to do a quick kick off?
>> BARBARA WANNER: Actually, I did already. I went through the ground rules. The speakers will have the floor when you indicate they are trying to -- their turn to speak. For people participating as attendees, I will watch the chat and if they use the raise hand function I will give them an opportunity to pose their question or they can pose their question in the chat. Back to you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: We have three great panelists today. We have Mr. -- I'm going to make sure I get the name right, correct me. Toshiya-san from Japan. Doreen Bogdan-Martin from the UN, ITU. We have Kathryn Condello from Lumen joining us today.
And really, the topic that we are going to talk about today is focused on three core areas. One is an overview of the problems created by the COVID crisis and the role of the Internet.
Another one is on stakeholder collaboration an mitigation strategies and the last, best practices to inform future crisis response. Those are three core topics we are going to cover. I will ask even of the panelists a few questions in each of those categories. After we work our way through that we'll open it up for audience questions. I think as Barbara mentioned, please use the chat function to send any questions in. Then I'll make sure I direct them to the appropriate panelist.
Jumping into the very first question on the overview of the problems created by the COVID crisis and the role of the Internet, Doreen, I wanted to start with you and ask the question of Doreen, during the COVID crisis, obviously digital connectivity has ascended to the top of every nation's list: What is the position of the ITU to meet demand on one hand and how does it approach the challenges to connect the unconnected on the other?
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you so much, Chris and good afternoon from Geneva. Thank you, Barbara, for the invitation.
Of course, when we were all together last year in Berlin, it was certainly a different world. Weapon were trying to make the case for connectivity and little did we know that the COVID-19 pandemic would come and make that case very clear for all of us.
As we struggle to maintain our connections to the world in this new landscape of socializisation, I think digital has been called the hidden hero. Digital connectivity kept us going, kept our societies going, it kept us working from home, studying from home, socializing from home, shopping from home, everything from home. And it just became our new life, right?
This, of course, resulted in network surges, demand spikes. And I think we should kind of take a pause and actually commend the Valiant efforts of the digital community to keep us all, everyone connected.
As is the case with the whole economy, the pandemic also had a big impact on the will financial performance of digital infrastructure companies. Some experts are predicting an annual negative revenue impact on telecommunications operators that could be up to 10 percent with some services requiring 18 to 24 months to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. It is important to note that economic impact because that will likely have impacts on efforts to get to the unconnected. In our efforts to extend connectivity to everyone, as operators' ability to invest will become constrained.
For example, if we look in Africa, for example, the top five African operators spent between five and a half to $6 billion last year in infrastructure investment. That has been estimated to drop toll four and a half to 5 billion this year due to the impacts of the crisis.
COVID-19 has exposed significant inequalities in terms of connectivity. I would say while overall telecommunications networks have exhibited consistent resilience in the face of the changes in traffic, countries with the largest deployments of accessible ultra broadband exhibited less flow-down in latency and download speeds. More generally while in Developed Countries 87 percent of individuals use the Internet in 2019, in the Least Developed Countries, only 19 percent did.
And I think it is really important when we focus on the divide that it is even starker when we look at the underlying infrastructure. For example, a user in an LDC has access to nine times less international Internet bandwidth available than one in a developed country. I think it is also important to note that over 12 percent of the global unconnected population lives in rural and remote locations where traditional networks are not easily accessible. Most of them are living in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia. And the connectivity gap is also exacerbated by other factors like the gender digital gap which stands at something around 17 percent. That gap is still there and it is not shrinking.
These digital gaps will have a strong impact on our response and our ability to recover from this pandemic. Leading economic experts gathered a couple months ago at the ITU and suggested that in the medium term countries with top connectivity infrastructure could mitigate up to half of its negative economic impact. Also countries with higher digitisation of their economy tend to be associated with a smaller downturn GDP adjustment in 2021 as IMF has forecasted.
The COVID-19 experience also brings, I would say, new urgency in our efforts to make sure that no one is left behind and that also means no one is left offline.
If I can come to the second part of your question, how has that changed our approaches? I think it made us realise that business as usual is not an option. And 35 years ago since Sir Donald Maitland issued the famous missing link report and made the case for University connectivity as the foundation for economic and social prosperity, 2015 came along where we had our SDG 9C calling for affordable access to the Internet in Least Developed Countries by 2020. And yet here we are at the end of 2020, nine years away from when the SDG should be achieved in 2030, and we have one in five people connected in LDCs.
So it is time for urgent action. We really need to pull together to connect the unconnected. To do that we need to deal with some critical barriers, the key barriers to connectivity that include affordability. We know that broadband commission set that 2 percent monthly GNI. We know in some countries affordability can be 40 percent of monthly income. We know that skills is another barrier. Less than half of the world's population have the needed basic skills for computer-based activities. Less than 30 percent of the world's population is proficient in standard ICT skills.
We also have a challenge with access to devices. For example, 9.5 percent of households in LDCs have access to a computer. Whereas in the developed country 82 percent do. This has had a big impact when we look at school closures and the number of kids who are out of school.
Also getting the policy and regulatory framework right is an essential prerequisite. That will help us to address these kinds of barriers that I just mentioned. Decisive actions are needed by policymakers and regulators. This needs to be supported by broad collaboration from all stakeholders.
And I think I'll conclude here, but COVID-19 has demonstrated the urgency for every country to put digital inclusion at the top of their agendas. This urgency will not go away when COVID leaves us. On the encouraging front I would say international financial institutions and national governments are recognizing the importance of broadband in their economic recovery plans with billions of dollars allocated to digital infrastructure investments. Those amounts may not be sufficient, but I'm optimistic, it's a start.
I'll stop there, Chris, thank you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Thank you very much, Doreen. I really appreciate it. Certainly everything I have been hearing is that broadband will continue to be a priority, I know in the U.S. and other countries, coming off of the pandemic.
Professor Jitsuzumi-san, I would like to turn it over to you with the perspective from Japan. From your standpoint, how do you evaluate the effectiveness of Japan's soft approach which relies on instructions as opposed to other countries that adopted a harder approach in response to the COVID-19.
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: Hello, my name is Jitsuzumi-san from Japan, where it is 1 in the morning. It is my honour to be invited to this session and have the opportunity to extend my views as a expert with.
According to the announcement from my government, from the outset Japanese has a two-prong approach -- maintaining social activities as much as possible while fighting the disease. The first several weeks the Japanese -- focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19. After that it focused more strategically to promoting economic recovery right now.
Anyway, the 28th of January 2020 is a day when the first domestic transmission of COVID-19 was confirmed in Japan and the day when the government passed cabinet orders that enforces compulsory hospitalization of the patient and inspection of the people entering our country. Meaning that this is day one of the Japanese anti-COVID measures.
After that on 7th of April, the government declared a State of emergency requesting people to restrain from going out. For schools to close for two weeks and business sectors to stop holding large events and shorten their business hours.
Important thing to mention here is that since Japanese government does not have a legal tools that allows to order compulsory doctrine on our society, all of these treatment also have to be based on voluntary contributions. Based on this process, in order to motivate the whole society to cooperate, building trust in the government's anti-COVID measures has become a goal. The US, communication is one of the most important keys. This is where I believe that broadband Internet creates an critical role. For example, the Ministry of Health provided necessary information through its website and opened special pages for COVID-19. Also many local governments did the same thing too.
And for avoiding unintentional spreading of the virus, contact information, COCOA, was developed by the Ministry with the help of civil engineers. This lets people know if they were in close proximity to infected people in the last 14 days and more than 16 million people voluntarily installed this application on the smartphone and they are using the power of this mobile broadband without receiving any meaningful compensation.
The answer to that as Doreen mentioned, the Internet played and important role in maintaining minimal -- activity during this period. Various processes that previously involved physical movements or direct physical contact are now conducted virtual over the Internet. Important examples are teleworking. In my case all of my classes in 2020 in the University are conducted over Zoom or Webex.
The result of this voluntary based soft approach is I think which is a surprising enough to the press of the world, this voluntary approach scored a huge success. According to locational behavior, the degree of behavior in Japan was stronger than other countries that did not adopt a soft approach such as Sweden and others.
Our effect was smaller compared to that of other decentralized country where the government did not introduce voluntary lock down. Based on the number of victims, I have to give Japan a fair amount of credit for the response against COVID so far. It is true that not a small number of people expressed their dissatisfaction with the government approach or voluntary lock down without providing any compensation, but thanks to the mutual trust that is cultivated throughout the whole process, their voices is not able in the large scale demonstration like we saw in many other countries. Then on May 25, the Prime Minister Abe declared the end of the emergency saying that Japan has been able to achieve the number of infections and by far less than other Developed Countries. But I have to point out that all of these are activities in Japan are not at all free from problems. But I will cover this point later.
That's all I want to point out in this beginning part. I will stop here. Thank you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Thank you, Professor Jitsuzumi-san. I appreciate your remarks on the experience in Japan.
Now I turn it over to Kathryn who can provide the industry perspective from the U.S. side. Kathryn, can you talk a little bit about the U.S. industry perspective on key digital and Internet develops that stemmed from the COVID-19 crisis?
>> KATHRYN CONDELLO: Certainly, thank you. Thank you very much for inviting me to participate in this panel.
Lumen is a global Tier 1 ISP. We are in your countries. We have been working this since day one. But I would comment when we stand back and sort of look at this, you know, from the perspective of the ICT industry, the global scale, the nationwide scale, presented its own unique and somewhat unprecedented challenges.
So the ICT sector's response sort of focused on two key areas. One, we had to keep provisioning additional capacities and capabilities for our customers, whether the business customers or our consumer customers, who were also sort of scaling their own systems so that they could work and learn and shop from home.
But at the same time we also had to be managing sort of globally the very rapidly changing volumes and the usage patterns of traffic globally.
So despite these challenges, you know, reliable and distributed connectivity was maintained certainly across the United States and across the globe. There were some important lessons learned around proving both how we coordinate our response to incidents at this scale and potentially what we will be looking at going forward.
The degree to which certainly the U.S. and globally was able to learn the ICT ecosystem to support our respective economies while in physical isolation certainly reflects the progress that globally we have achieved towards becoming a more digital economy. And both of my fellow panelists have spoken to this.
However, in speaking to the operational process, it was also coupled with the efforts that the nations took to recognize and expand the understanding of certainly essential worker functions. The people who needed to continue to work during this isolation environment. This is where nationally and globally we really started to demonstrate both economic and societal resilience at a macro level.
So this event certainly highlights how the continuity of the digital economy is not only the unspoken hero as Doreen said, but also a major factor in supporting the country's national and economic security posture. Our societal behaviors stemming from this event will not be changing. There will be, I think, significant changes in how we continue to work from home, learn from home, do medicine from home, how we are going to embrace the economy.
And we also are now going to be facing potentially some economic impacts globally. So we will need to reassess again not only how we address the security implications of all these changes, but also how we are going to continue to address access to this digital economy.
Back to you, Chris.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Thanks, Kathryn. I agree with that. There are issues that this pandemic shined a light on that have been out there for a while. Doreen talked about how broadband has. It brings those problems to the forefront. That will be critical going forward.
The next agenda was to talk about stakeholder collaboration and how we can work together on mitigation strategies.
So on this particular question, Professor Jitsuzumi-san I would like to start with you. How has the Japan niece government east declaration of a State of emergency changed the behavior of the Japanese people?
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: Thank you, Chris. And as I said before, we achieved the policy target of controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. We have to have compliance among stakeholders. Japanese government does not have any legal tool to order lockdown to the society as a whole. In response to the government's requests, in order to mitigate the possible pandemic, we need to reduce the physical contact by 80 percent. People are asked to change their daily behavior without any amount of compensation. And many people did actually change their daily pattern.
And according to Google, while there were changes in the use of use of pharmacies, a significant decrease in the number of people in the train and subway stations were observed.
I would like to share some slides. Let me share the slides right here.
>> CHRIS BOYER: I may need to give you -- I can share the slides too, Professor. I have them on as well. You have it.
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: Yes. This is a very popular place for everybody, Shibuva. Foreign tourists and students are gathered here and Japanese culture, and Japanese good food.
This is actually before the COVID-19 crisis. People are gathered day and night and especially for the festivals like New Year's festival or Halloween. Lots of people are gathered here.
And this data is a number of people who gathered in the Shibuva areas. This information is provided by the a group, the name of the company Agoop. This is based on mobile phone applications. They utilize this data to generate the number of people who gathered in this particular area. This is the Shibuva area.
During the State of emergency, from April 7 to May 21st, the number of people observed in this area was decreased by 75 percent. It is amazing. You know, in the usual case we get a lot of area in the Shibuva area. But during this emergency period there is nobody.
And interestingly, after the state of emergency period, the number of people is still about half of the pre-pandemic period. I think this represents good cooperation or collaboration from the society to the government of policies.
And a similar situation was observed in other areas of Japan too. People are now, do not go outside and are spending their work and daily time at home. Broadband usage from home is increasing dramatically. This is the traffic data provided by NT East that provided fixed line to the east part of Japan. The blue line represents the traffic pattern before the pandemic, before the state of emergency. And during the period of emergency in the weekday, daytime, the traffic increased by 66 percent. And in the nighttime it increased by 14 percent and weekend traffic increased also to 18 percent and 12 percent.
And this has a huge impact to the network companies, whether they could manage this huge increase of traffic.
I think that this result, lots of people follow the request from the government, are the products of the government's efforts which tried to provide necessary information to each and every member of society and make them understand the reason and the necessity of the proposed measures and cultivate the public trust for the broad cooperation.
And this is where the Japanese state of information infrastructure worked extremely well, I believe. The ubiquitous availability of broadband across the country as well as the widespread adoption of high broadband smartphones by people -- the information was enjoyed by society and achieving consensus. By taking full advantage of this, I believe our Ministry of Health, all local governments have done a good job in this regard.
That's my comment. Thank you. Back to you, Chris.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Thank you, Professor. I really appreciate that. That is interesting information and data around how the State of emergency impacted especially the traffic flows. It's interesting information. Appreciate you sharing that with the audience.
Let's see. So next I would like to turn to Kathryn to give a similar discussion around how the pandemic has impacted the private sector. So Kathryn, can you talk a little bit about how the high level concepts discussed in the UN and ITU meetings have discussed at an operational level and how U.S. carriers have partnered with some of the major platforms during the first four to eight weeks of the COVID crisis?
>> KATHRYN CONDELLO: Certainly. I think it might sort of swap the order around slightly.
The social distancing techniques that were used to mitigate COVID, as articulated, did create a significant shift in the global Internet traffic pattern certainly in the first six months of 2020 driving increased demand for both connectivity and bandwidth.
Now, the ICT entities that supported this shift largely the network ISPs, the cloud providers, content providers, collaboration providers, were the major enablers of that capability. We each have very strong kind of bilateral customer provider partner relationships with each other and regularly engage over the course of day-to-day business for the collective good of our customers.
But during this time, the dynamic shift and the dynamic nature of all these global traffic shifts actually led to not only increased collaboration but multilateral information sharing and operational coordination. Along the large multinational providers so that we could anticipate the shifts and adapt and balance our respective networks to make these changing demands.
Within the U.S. specifically the largest eight ISPs as well as the major cloud content collaboration providers that were supporting the work from home, learn from home and live from home environment got together on a regular basis in addition to the bilateral relationships that we had, to sort of do a level setting about how things were going, what was coming up.
I would like to remind everyone that during the same time that we were dealing with COVID we also had major, major sort of media releases, game releases and the addition of sort of new media platforms during this time which were all being accommodated during this time.
This coordination between the ISPs and these major content providers allowed us to do a quick check. We think everything is okay. Is everything working the way we think? Are we prepared to go? That we had not experienced at this scale in the past.
Now, we have certainly worked with these same providers in a cyber environment. But still once again not at a global scale that we experienced here. So at least domestically we leveraged this multilateral coordination mechanism. It was industry alone. We leveraged this to not only inform government of our operational status but also to communicate important industry priorities such as the need for personal protective equipment, masks. We worked with government decision makers to mitigate those concerns so that we could continue to work.
Now, while the global traffic and union patterns significantly increased due to the pandemic, at least domestic we and our industry peers were prepared for this increase which did lead as has been stated to a largely seamless experience for our customers.
Now, so how does this relate? Well, as one of the largest Internet backbone providers in the world Lumen has an interest investment in an open and secure Internet, especially in the time of crises. Whether we are responding whether or not from COVID-19 or cyber threats, allowing for multistakeholder partners is essential. We saw that manifested and highly successful during this time frame. Consistent with the theme of trust for this year's IGF and certainly in support of the Tunis Agenda to foster sustainability, robustness, security, stability in the development of the Internet, Lumen certainly affirms its commitment to continue to engage in meaningful, multilateral information sharing and operational coordination, certainly among the multinational providers and our government partners to further develop this responsible response.
Back to you, Chris.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Thanks, Kathryn. I think I can speak from an AT&T perspective. Kathryn is the cord 98er. That and others have worked closely with the U.S. government and other industry segments outside of communications and I actually think the pandemic response has been a big success story in terms of how we have been able to keep everything up and running even when challenged by fairly significant issue with the pandemic. It doesn't mean that everything is perfect an we'll take lessons learned from this, but it shows that the process of collaboration actually does work. And it doesn't mean we won't be challenged and won't have to address the digital divide as Doreen mentioned. But AT&T is seeing a similar thing in this area in agreeing to make the process work.
Doreen, on the last subject, turning to you. Given the comments of Professor Jitsuzumi-san and Kathryn, digitalisation has become more issue than others. What kind of initiatives has the ITU taken to foster collaboration, for the COVID-19 or future initiatives, whether cybersecurity or otherwise.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you, Chris; and thank you, Kathryn. I fully agree with your points. Professor, great to understand more about how Japan has been tackling their approach.
So I would say as I mentioned before, collaboration definitely is key. Has been and will continue to be as we navigate and recover hopefully soon from this crisis. For many years we have highlighted the vital importance of digital networks, the development of our societies and our economies, including through our annual symposium for regulator series where we have been advocating for collaborative regulatory approaches.
But I guess COVID comes and makes us question everything. It makes us question our approaches to connectivity that are they fit for purpose, agile, forward-looking and are we ready to tackle another pandemic should it come in.
COVID has really been an inflection point for our sector as a whole because connectivity is now understood not as a nice to have but as essential. It is an essential digital lifeline.
Our response to the pandemic, I would say right from the very start, has been multi-stakeholder. One of the very first initiatives that we took at the ITU to help countries to cope was to set up the global network resilience forum called Reg for COVID. Through them we have been collecting experiences, ongoing initiatives, innovative regulatory and policy measures to especially ensure that communities remain connected and that connectivity gets extended to those who don't have it.
Our reg for COVID platform brings hundreds and hundreds of practices from all over the world and really shows ways that countries, communities, have taken steps, things like ways they have increased Internet speeds, abolishing consumption caps and charges, cutting roaming rates, introducing spectrum innovations and also ways that educational resources have been made available.
We also convened a Special Session of the UN Broadband Commission to address the pandemic and we prepared our action plan for faster and better recovery. We joined forces with the World Bank, GSMA, with WEF and came up with a digital development action plan which called for new urgency to address digital inclusion. And to ensure that we are promoting network resilience, looking at affordability issues and access issues.
We convened together with the UN 75th Global Governance Forum a partnership dialogue for connectivity and that dialogue laid out concrete actions to accelerate digital connectivity in the wake of COVID.
We did a series of digital cooperation dialogues. I think on Thursday there is a Special Session of the IGF on the UN SG digital cooperation, high level panel and subsequent roadmap. So we joined forces with the UN SG's under secretary and did a series of multi-stakeholder dialogue link to COVID and impact on digital cooperation.
The other point I wanted to mention is that we stepped up our efforts with UNICEF and many other partners on school connectivity. We have an initiative called GIGA which is about connecting every school in the world to the Internet and with 1.6 billion learners out of school that initiative took on new importance and a new level of excitement. And we are pleased to be advancing that as we move forward.
I would simply conclude by saying all of these tools and partnerships really I think underscore how important collaboration and cooperation is. It is key at the global level, at the regional and national level, not just for this pandemic but for future crises, health-related or otherwise.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Great. Thank you. Thanks for the comments, Doreen.
All right. So that takes us through the first two topics. The last topic is on best practices that could be used to help inform a response to a future crisis. So best practices, lessons learned from the COVID response.
I guess I will start with Kathryn from the industry side. Kathryn, you recently worked on a variety of things in the U.S. including an NSTAC response to the President and it raised similar issues we talked about here on the panel this morning. Can you talk about ways to address the issue? And what have we seen in terms of lessons learned and the possibility of best practices to cross-sectoral responses, both in COVID and that could be useful for the future?
>> KATHRYN CONDELLO: Yes, certainly. Thank you.
For those that don't know, NSTAC is the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, a long-standing committee, over five years, and generally comprised of the CEOs of arguably up to 30 as the largest ICT companies in the United States. Their focus is very much at a strategic level and ultimately focused on being able to advise the Presidents throughout all administrations, what does the government need to be thinking about so that we can better assure the security and the resiliency of the ICT environment.
So I did have the opportunity to work on one recent very fast turn around discussing the ICT resiliency during COVID. We already discussed the fact that in general we were resilient, but it did bring up a number of points. I want to talk a little bit about three of them. We already touched on the first one, which is that access to broadband in underserved areas or rural areas in particular is a prerequisite to fully leveraging the digital economy. It will support the national resilience goals association with economic continuity.
So we've already touched on that a great deal. Since we haven't touched on the other two points I think I will spend some of my time there.
The other thing we discovered or we thought was worthy of further thought and kind of touched on here a little bit is that things are going to continue. Things that we do differently, work from home, learn from home, whatever. I think that's going to remain. I think we have had enough time to create a new pattern societally. Yes, access to that capability is clearly important. But there were a couple other things that bubbled up.
One, when you transition enterprise workloads to residential and remote settings, we have now potentially created an environment that is vulnerable to certainly cyber threats. As such, the strengthening the cybersecurity readiness or preparedness of this remote workforce becomes now critical to ensuring again the security and resiliency of both critical infrastructure but also the digital economy, which is in our case the U.S. economy.
Given the speed of transition to this work from home environment, it is not clear that all enterprises have fully thought out what does it mean to work from home. And how does one treat the remote location or your home location as being a digital end point in your corporate enterprise.
So we think as a government we need to be, as a nation and globally we need to be rethinking what does it mean to protect the corporate enterprise when the workers are sitting at home. I think this is going to unpack a lot of issues that we will need to think about, address and potentially mitigate certainly in the years to come.
The third point that I want to touch on because again there has been a the love discussion about the access to broadband issue. We did have an opportunity to work jointly as industry and government on our disaster response and coordination protocols.
Now we have substantive experience. You know, working with certainly the U.S. government and other governments when it's a natural disaster, a hurricane, a tornado, a fire. But this was a whole of nation response. And what we came to unpack is that the disaster response coordination and alignment, that's the emphasis word, alignment across at least in the U.S. federal, state, local, tribal, territorial partners needed to be reassessed so we could better assure not only unity of messaging and unity of do we know where we are going, how we are going, how we are going to do it. But also be able to ensure unity of effort for whole of nation events.
Generally and historically disasters are managed at the lowest level possible. If it's a town, it gets managed in the town, if it's large, it's managed at the county, larger, it gets managed at the state. We started lowest because it's good best practice.
Nonetheless at a time and size and scale as the one we experienced with COVID, I think there's an opportunity to relook at some of those to be able to assure ourselves that will any distinctions at lower levels of government, say at the federal level are at least aligned and reconciled so it's better understood.
If this this not been -- this was an environment where there was no impact to infrastructure. There was no devastation. There were no disasters. There were no floods. There was no impact to infrastructure.
So in that respect for us to take this opportunity to reassess the alignment of once again federal, state, local, tribal, territorial or for that matter nation to nation or region to region alignment under this sort of circumstances provides a good opportunity for future thought. Back to you, Chris.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Great. Thanks, Kathryn. I really appreciate that. So Professor Jitsuzumi-san, building off the initial question about being prepared for future crises, do you think Japan is going to be able to respond effectively to the next outbreak?
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: It's a really tough question. The first world I would like to stress that is that it is very clear that digital transmission does make it much easier for everybody but based on the record in mitigating COVID-19 in Japan even our country has a lot of problems regarding the digital infrastructure. For example, the standard that many schools lack network capacity to accommodate the demand of the distant learning of students, and laws and regulation still require paperworks. And it also came as a great surprise to discover that the communication link between some public institutions is still dependent on the fax machines of the previous century. How to deal with these missing links are the challenges that our society has to deal with right now. This is why the digital transformation of the government is at the top of the list of our current administration. So assuming that the current efforts of our government everybody successful in transforming the government to be a fully digital ready, I think that by next summer we will have our amount of preparation in place. But if the outbreak occurs before then, Japan will have a very difficult time because the data prepared is not perfect. That is the short answer I can give right now.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Thank you. I really appreciate your feedback.
All right. So the last question here an then we'll turn it over to the audience, Doreen, you get to bring in the last question here. So on the same topic area of best practices for future response, we have had many lessons learned in the crisis. Obviously there is bound to be quite a few more. In the context of harnessing best practices for future responses are there any plans, toolkits and approaches that the ITU can advise on as we anticipate the recovery phase of COVID and can you further reflect on the ITU's recovery plans in this context?
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you, Chris. As today's crisis has shown, the fundamental importance of digital connectivity and we cannot continue to do business as usual. As I mentioned in the beginning, we must seize this moment and really review our strategy and our business models based on the lessons that we've learned from COVID to speed up the development of the digital society and to accelerate progress towards bridging the digital divide.
Yesterday as some of you may have heard, as the IGF was officially opening, we were launching our Road to Addis, which is kicking off our preparatory process for our world telecommunications conference next year. We are working to build momentum to ensure that this world conference really charts a new path forward for digital development for all.
So coming to connect to recover, so with the kind support of Japan and also support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia we recently launched a new initiative called connect to recover. It is a global initiative that aims to reinforce the digital infrastructure and ecosystems of less connected countries. So we are first targeting Africa so that they are able to better cope with COVID and to reinforce their recovery efforts and better prepare for the new normal.
Under the connect to recover initiative we will be developing a methodology for identifying gaps and bottlenecks in the use of digital networks and technologies at the country level. We will be assisting countries in assessing their digital infrastructures and developing robust strategies to address any shortcomings.
We are also going fob implementing pilot projects to test expect solutions that will help strengthen and expand digital infrastructure.
Connect to recover really seeks to, what I would say galvanize or re-galvanize action for affordable and reliable connectivity. As part of COVID-19 recovery strategies. And we are very encouraged by the positive response that we have received from so many stakeholders around the world. They have been reaching out to us with the aim of working together to make sure that everyone has access to reliable and affordable digital technologies exactly when they need them most.
Connect to recover is building on other solid actions including the GIGA effort that I mention that we have with UNICEF. I mentioned our reg for COVID platform as well and I wanted to mention as Kathryn pointed out we are also looking at this as an opportunity to reinforce our support in the space of national emergency telecommunications plan. So we assist countries to better manage disaster response and when COVID hit we made sure that we were able to include tailored contingency plans and essential requirements to articulate a national strategy using ICTs when disaster strikes, such as an em dem I can.
We also leveraged our be healthy be mobile collaborative effort with WHO. This time we teamed up and we brought UNICEF into the MIC. We were able to work with mobile operators and get text messaging out to the Mass to those that didn't have access to the Internet.
We have also stepped up efforts in the face of cybersecurity. We launched our CYB-CIB for COVID to help countries, industries an citizens to be respond to amplified and new threats in the space during COVID. We updated our online child protection guidelines. As everyone knows, many children came on to the Internet earlier than perhaps their parents would have anticipated. We launched our new guidelines to help children, parents, educators and industry and policymakers to make sure that we could help make cyberspace as safe and empowering as possible.
We've also paid special attention to building digital skills. Skills such as remote teaching has become a key focus for us in our digital transformation centres initiative that we developed together with NORAD and Cisco. We also developed a digital skills assessment toolkit which I think has been very useful to a lot of countries. And I also wanted to again stress getting that right policy mix that is something that when we think about lessons and look forward to the future regulators and policymakers need to focus on driving inclusive and cross sectoral approaches and collaboration. So that really all players can have their voice in decision making on current and future efforts.
Our GSR guidelines I also mentioned. I think that's a critical component. We have in terms of other tools our digital regulation handbook and online platform that is also the fruit of another collaborative effort that we have done with the World Bank as well as our recent connecting humanity study that we did together with Saudi Arabia, with insights on the impact of COVID-19 on the digital economy, as well as the role of digital infrastructure in mitigating the consequences as well as the recovery from the pandemic.
Thank you, Chris. I'll stop there.
>> CHRIS BOYER: All right. Thank you, Doreen. I really appreciate it. That takes me to the end of our prepared questions. We have about maybe ten minutes left here. So I wanted to turn it over to the audience to see if we have any questions. I do see that we had at least one question came in. This was directed, Doreen, to you. So the question is: Has the ITU participated or contributed in any way to ongoing discussions at the OEWG or UNGGE on building digital trust?
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Yes. Okay, thank you, Chris. Thank you for the question.
So of course, the group of government experts is a group that is comprised of governments. We have followed and contribute as appropriate to the open ended Working Groups.
What we do essentially as many of you know, is that we facilitate multi-stakeholder discussions and dialogue. We do that largely through our facilitation group at C5. We've spoken a lot about the Tunis Agenda. We bring all of the stakeholders together under the action line C5 and of course through our annual convening of the WSIS Forum which, of course, was also held virtually this year. Much, much our efforts in building trust and confidence in the ITU focused largely on capacity-building. We have just run two months of a cyber drill online which was lots of fun. We helped countries in setting up their certs and we do have global, we have the cybersecurity strategy guidelines that we have also contributed together with our Member States through our Study Groups. I hope that's helpful. Thank you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Great. Thank you.
Let's see. Looking for any other questions. One other question that we did receive, I'm not sure if this is rhetorical or not, but what would the world have been like without the Internet during COVID?
Done not very well, I think is the short answer to that question. If anyone else wants to comment?
>> CHRIS BOYER: Clearly our reliance on the Internet has been demonstrated over the past few weeks.
>> KATHRYN CONDELLO: Can I take a quick stab at that? Within my family, my grandmother was a nurse during the 1918 pandemic. And so there's a lot of family stories about how did they get through the 1918 pandemic to the point that my grandmother when she would get back from the hospital with her mask she would stay in the front room and everybody else in the house came in through the back door.
So it was kind of a family folklore.
But snapping forward, I mean even ten, 12 years ago the sector was planning for pandemic. It was a different variation on a theme, but still we were planning for a pandemic. At that point we were still kind of at a different stage in terms of our adoption of the digital economy.
So certainly we had Internet ten years ago. Did we have Internet that we were using for shopping, for schooling, for collaboration? No, it was very pick up the phone and talk.
Even at that stage, even with Internet, the plans were made to assure that the resiliency of being able to pick up the phone and talk and communicate and to be able to coordinate activities was in place.
So all to say that I think that the impact of this COVID environment would have certainly had been more devastating in terms of the health of our citizens. I'm not trying to dismiss that.
In terms of the ICT space, I think we would have simply adjusted for where we were at that time. The plans were in place and we have continued to build on those plans with each roughly five years of iteration and hopefully with this experience we will be planning for how we will address something like this eight to ten years out. Back to you, Chris.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Chris, could I jump in on that one too?
>> CHRIS BOYER: Go for it.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: I also wanted to highlight -- of course, it would have been very difficult without the Internet. I think we are fortunate, those of us who are connected. But half the world not, right?
But I think what is interesting we have seen some really creative approaches. There's been lots of innovation to respond to the entire COVID crisis. And one thing that is striking is that many countries, developed and developing, have used radio and television to help mitigate the impact of the crisis. I was in a session last week where a Minister was talking about how they have used television for education. So they are holding classrooms using different TV stations to gather pupils in local communities and get the education out there because those kids or those communities don't have access to the Internet.
So simply to say let's not forget about the role of television and radio. Thank you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Great. Thank you.
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: May I?
>> CHRIS BOYER: Yes, go ahead!
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: You know, ten years ago Japan had a huge tsunami and at that time there was no smartphones. But we had Internet.
The big difference is that in the constitution we have tools to connect and browse information from the Internet. Ten years ago we had just mobile phones and personal computers. Personal computers because of the lack of's electricity.
The only thing we get about the situation of the tsunami that they are broadcasting and the announcement of the government was from the local police.
But in this times of COVID, people can search for the information they need. They can ask for help through the Internet and to call for help to the other side of the globe in some cases. So that the Internet is okay, but the big difference that we have are small computers named smartphone in our hand. It really helps the mitigation of the pandemic. That is my impression. Thank you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Great. Thanks, everyone, for your comment on the question.
I don't see any other questions. So let me ask the audience if there are any other questions. Barbara, have you seen anything?
>> BARBARA WANNER: I haven't seen any other questions in the chat or this Q&A function. For some reason it isn't working. If you do have a question, please use the chat.
Just a very quick question for Doreen, because I know you mentioned the Addis conference next year, 2021, WTDC.
That seems to be, yes, just in terms of taking the theme of trust and trust in your ICTs, trust in your strength and resiliency of your network, will of have panels that enable stakeholders to come together and talk about that? A more broad, different country audience.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you so much for that question, Barbara. We are trying to have a different kind of conference. We have understood that it can't just be all talk. It's really got to be about actions. It has to be solutions-oriented. So we are in the process of inventing a very inclusive preparatory process. In our Road to Addis we will be having a series of at least eight events that will be opened to all stakeholders. We hope to engage all of you. We are planning a special partnership track in the beginning of the WTDC. There is certainly space for all of us to come together for that conference. Thank you.
>> CHRIS BOYER: Great. I think that takes us to the end of our allotted time. I really want to thank everyone for joining us today. And to all the speakers, I think it was a good discussion about the impacts of COVID. I hope at the next IGF we will not becoming off of a worldwide pandemic. It is good to be prepared. So there are a lot of lessons we can take from this experience as we move forward. Thank you for joining us. I hope everyone has a great morning or afternoon. I know, Jitsuzumi-san, what is it, 1 in the morning now? Maybe 2 now? Thanks for joining us so early in the day.
>> KATHRYN CONDELLO: Thanks.
>> DOREEN BOGDAN-MARTIN: Thank you very much.
>> TOSHIYA JITSUZUMI: Thank you, goodbye.
>> BARBARA WANNER: Thank you.