IGF 2021 WS #41
Digital technology for univeral access in post-epidemic era

Organizer 1: Jieyao Wang, China Association for Science and Technology
Organizer 2: Mika Klemettinen, Business Finland
Organizer 3: Rui ZHONG, Internet Society of China

Speaker 1: Mika Klemettinen, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: YONG XIAO, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Mikhail Komarov, Civil Society, Eastern European Group
Speaker 4: Elsa Estevez, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 5: Tshamano Makhadi, Private Sector, African Group
Speaker 6: Julie Zhu, Private Sector, Asia-Pacific Group


Mika Klemettinen, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

YONG XIAO, Technical Community, Asia-Pacific Group


Jieyao Wang, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Panel - Auditorium - 90 Min

Policy Question(s)

Defining universal and meaningful access: What are the key elements that constitute universal and meaningful Internet access? How can it be measured? How is the concept evolving in time and what does this evolution mean for policy?
Barriers to universal and meaningful access: What are the main challenges that people face in obtaining and making full use of Internet access? To what extent are these the result of social, economic and cultural factors, and to what extent do they result from aspects of the digital environment? How can we use the responses to these questions to better understand the intersection between digital policies and other policy areas? Can this understanding help us to develop and implement more realistic Internet-related policy goals?

The workshop will focus on digital solutions including the Internet access and the Internet-based services and applications that have the potential to achieve sustainable growth in post-pandemic era. Emerging technologies exploiting the available Internet access for long-term epidemic monitoring and prevention, as well as innovative solutions to break the barriers caused by increased inequality and digital gaps will be discussed. The workshop will also consider business models and investment opportunities that will drive for affordable solutions and Internet access in developing countries to contain pandemic and ensure sustainable growth.


3. Good Health and Well-Being
4. Quality Education
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

Targets: The main objective of this workshop is to promote discussion and collaboration in innovation and application of digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of the human society and also address various challenges introduced by the pandemic including the inequality and digital gap, unfair education caused by unbalanced availability of Internet access, and reopening and sustainable growth of cities and communities in post-pandemic era. Emerging technological solutions and innovations in both software and hardware infrastructure from both academia and industry will be discussed.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been considered as one of the major threats to global public health in the twenty-first century. As an unknown virus, previous and existing measures for containing the COVID-19 are mostly focusing on limiting the human behavior, e.g., city lockdown, enforcing social distancing and mask use in public, which took heavy economic costs and caused widespread social disruption. These measures are less likely to be reinstated in a post-pandemic outbreak. Although the recent introduction of vaccine brings new hope for ending the pandemic, it is commonly believed that the vaccine alone will not end the pandemic. Recent study suggests that pandemic will not be over soon and the possibility for a recurrent outbreak is high. This is likely going to be with us for a long time than expected. Also, the COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic the human society will face. It is therefore of critical importance to promote international discussion and collaboration for possible relaxation and adjusting of existing measures to enable reopening the world without triggering a resurgence of COVID-19 outbreak and jeopardizing the health of the human society.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technologies are playing a crucial role in keeping the human society functional in the time of lockdowns and quarantines. For example, innovative e-server and applications such as e-government and remote delivery have become more important than ever as many people were not able to leave their houses. The pandemic has also forced students and teachers across all levels of education to quickly adapt to online learning. With this sudden shift away from the classroom in many parts of the globe, some are wondering whether the adoption of online learning will continue to persist post-pandemic, and how such a shift would impact the Internet-based learning and education. It has become increasingly clear that online learning will be the future for most education institutions across the globe. Also, the potential of adopting digital contact tracing technology for early detection of virus and slow its spread has also been recognized by governments throughout the world. The recent innovations in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) such as 5G, industrial Internet-of-Things (IoT), robotics and drones have also exhibit huge potential in remote control and monitoring, unmanned factory, as well as healthcare consultation, early detection of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases, health resource distribution assistance and optimization, and others. It is expected that these digital technologies will have a long-lasting impact in the post-pandemic era. The main objective of this workshop is to bring together the efforts in digital technologies that will benefit the reopening and sustainable growth of human society in post-epidemic era.

Expected Outcomes

1. Present innovative digital solutions for long-term epidemic monitoring and prevention in post-epidemic era.
2. Innovation of digital solution in assisting transparent and fair vaccine distribution and medical resource allocation
2. Promote cooperation and communication between multi‐stakeholders, such as educational
institutions, students, and network providers. Develop a consensus on the best practices needed
to reconcile the advantages of the multi‐stakeholders with the fair access of the Internet in post-pandemic era.
3. Reach common understanding on the ways to practice in more efficient and reasonable network resource deployment schemes.
4. Innovation in preventing increased inequality in post-epidemic era.

All experts and audience will make comments and raise questions related to the themes of the speeches, guided by the moderator. The session will consist of a series of discussions.
1) Preliminary survey: Before the workshop, targeting on digital technological innovations for post-pandemic era, we will survey with a series of questions which are designed for discussion during the workshop to support first-hand and data to workshop discussion.
2) Warm-up discussion forum: we will hold a forum on digital technologies for universal access and fair connection in the post-epidemic era with the stakeholders together. During the forum, sub-topics including the various aspects of the main theme of the workshop will be discussed by relevant experts, which will provide professional knowledge and support to the workshop.
3) Story-Telling Session: This special session is designed to allow teacher and students to have a voice in this issue and to take their perspective into full consideration.
4) Question and Open discussion: During the workshop, two rounds of question and open discussion are designed to encourage every participant to share their views and make contributions to the issue.
5) Audio-visual material: Organizers will explore the use of visuals (i.e. videos, PowerPoint slides, images, infographics) not only for presentation, but also throughout the workshop to animate the session and aid those whose native language may not be English.

Online Participation

Usage of IGF Official Tool.