The Challenge of the New Age
Edited by David H. McIntyre and William I. Hancock
Chapter 10: Telework in the Face of a Pandemic
Paul B. Kurtz If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . (from the poem ‘If ’, by Rudyard Kipling) INTRODUCTION This chapter focuses on one of the key goals of the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy to battle and contain a pandemic influenza assembled by the White House: sustaining the infrastructure and mitigating the impact of a pandemic on the economy and functioning of society. OVERVIEW: TECHNOLOGY AND CONTINUITY OF OPERATIONS In the early twentieth century, more than 20 million people around the world perished in the outbreak of Spanish influenza. During this epidemic, technology played a key role in continuity of operations. An advertisement placed by Bell Canada in the autumn of 1918 urged quarantined citizens to use the phone – which was relatively new at the time for the general public – for emergencies only: ‘You will thus be helping to keep the service intact to meet the urgent needs of the community in the present emergency.’1 In the face of a flu pandemic today, information technology (IT) should not be for emergency use only, because IT is integral to our daily lives and business operations. IT sustains and fuels the economy, and in a crisis situation it would not only help keep the public informed, but also enable us to continue working, remaining productive. Recent years have demonstrated the wide range of bad things that can and will happen to the United States: terrorists will strike; hurricanes and earthquakes will flood and flatten...
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