Is the COVID-19 Pandemic all doom and gloom?

As an optimist I firmly believe there is much to be gained beyond the COVID Pandemic. I have researched numerous articles summarizing what the experts agree are key benefits for the Australian and the world community

Besides economic recovery, we have plenty to look forward to!

We will be more connected (digitally at least)

Thanks to modern technology such as digital applications, Bluetooth and Social media – people are now better equipped to mobilise away from harm’s way albeit virus related or something more sinister.

There is now potential to improve connectivity on multiple levels ultimately assisting all facets of modern life. The last few months have exposed flaws within our internet infrastructure and not just in Australia. It was reported that in the 29th of April, we as a nation experienced the biggest 24 hours of downloading ever reported by the NBN and most telco’s gained invaluable data as to how they needed to improve resources and framework.

Scholars from Monash University have identified within a recently published article, the creation of what has been call ‘third spaces’ Meaning those found in between home and work as online communities. Facilitated through such applications such as WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams, many of us have learnt to connect according to location, interest groups and needs required through isolation. These third spaces will continue to serve specialised communities providing more effective productivity than the traditional channels of communication. This also provides marketing departments brand new target audience.

We will become a more flexible in workforce

Online learning and tele-communicating has now become more widely more accepted and viable for all age groups. Often called ‘telecommuting’ this practice will result in a more flexible workforce and education system as we learn beyond traditional workspaces.

There will be the potential for reducing congestion in road traffic and public transport with more of us prepared to work from home or choosing staggered working hours.

We are embracing new forms of learning and preparing for the jobs of the future. Indeed artists and their audiences will also become more agile through online pathways.

Out of necessity, Colleges and universities are suddenly having to deliver all classes online, and many will ensure the practice remains implemented whilst they keep connected to their students.

We make better home bodies.

Many of us are now better cooks, cleaners, home-schoolers, renovators and gardeners, thanks to lock down and isolation rules.

At the same time we have realised we are highly social creatures and there is every chance we will reclaim the Aussie outdoors, taking it less for granted, so expect more local travel and boosts to the rural economies.

Healthcare will improve.

Obviously we have seen significantly more focus on our health care industry.

Scientists & Health workers have become the new superstars. We have witnessed the rise of telemedicine and telehealth calls, a practice that in its popularity, will lend itself to freeing up more hospital beds and waiting rooms. Indeed it has been speculated that ethics in modern medicine will also change for better becoming more practical and less Hippocratic.

As a community, we are now are being reminded of heath practices which has been lost as only good manners. Not since the Spanish flu, do we now realise the importance of sneezing into ones arm, regular sanitation or thorough hand washing.

With these practices and along with increasing vaccination rates, there is a real chance that there will be fewer souls stuck down with communicable diseases such as the common colds and flu’s.

The tragedies that have befallen the elderly in the past few month’s means that further reform in the Age-Care sector is only a matter of time and we as a society are now more aware of the vulnerable.

We will become more environmentally conscious.

No doubt you have heard that the Ozone layer is rapidly repairing, the air is clearer in many cities worldwide and animal life is slowly reclaiming territory lost.

2020 will see the largest drop in history of Carbon emissions – CO2. According to NASA, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), used as an indicator of changes in human activity such as burning fossil fuels from transportation and electricity generation, is currently at 20 year lows in many major cities.

Reduction in pollution though is just the start. Many of us will now be more focused on improving the environment after witnessing the remarkable climatic changes in the last few months both here and the rest of the world.

Politicians will be seen in a different yet genuine light.

We have arguably seen quality leadership from heads of state in Australia and New Zealand, much needed in a time a crisis. Other Countries have been less fortunate and we hope that their citizens will make the change for the better in helping the global community.

The scholars at Monash University summarized it well when they said “At the very least, these trying days have provided a timely and much-needed reminder that political leadership and government can be instruments for the public good”

Last but not least – we will be better prepared for the next health scare or global catastrophe

Sure we have now grasped the concept of hoarding but has Australia learnt from this pandemic?

From buyers to producers, we will be better prepared to purchase and manufacture in accordance to expected demand. Called the culture of preparedness, this anticipation takes into account both local capacities and networks, including the sense of urgency in maintaining them.

Last year, The Defence Department’s – Director of Preparedness and Mobilisation, Ms Cheryl Durrant, was commissioned to do a landmark review of Defence planning (the first so-called ‘mobilisation review’ since the Cold War) to prepare for what the department concluded was an increasingly likely global crisis. She planned for horror scenarios that would keep most Australians up at night.

Questions were asked; can national supply chains and our national infrastructure support Defence in a war or other crisis? The COVID 19 scare gave her department and us a genuine realisation that we were not and where our weakness lay including a heavy reliance on overseas medicines and fuel supply. Durrant since concluded that as a nation we need to improve and will be stronger for the experience.

In conclusion

Around a 100 years ago, a small town called Bristol Bay in Alaska, escaped the Spanish flu almost unscathed by closing schools, banning public gatherings and shutting off access to the village from the main roads. This is because they listen to their health experts, acted quickly and came together as one united team. Perhaps the world lost some of these lessons since the Spanish Flu but I dare say have now been offered a genuine reminder of our we need to safe guard our nation for the future.

Thanks to the BBC, The Futures platform, ABC, AZ Central, NASA, Lowey Institute, USA today, Monash University and Department of Defence

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