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Keeping the world connected

It was not supposed to be like this.

The start of a new decade should be a time for optimism. And that was exactly what many people, including me, felt: excitement at the new wave of technology-enabled healthcare, at the beginning of the 5G era, and at the growing consensus behind the importance of climate action.

All still important. But all overshadowed, at least temporarily, by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the face of the biggest public health emergency for generations, governments, businesses, NGOs, communities and individuals are doing all they can to keep people safe and economies resilient.

Nokia is no exception.

Our engineers have created a new camera that can take the temperature of 20 people every 30 milliseconds, using bespoke software and artificial intelligence to disregard bangs, face masks or other impediments.

AI experts who normally worked in the office of Kristian Pullola, Nokia's Chief Financial Officer, shifted their focus to supply chain optimization. Making sure all our customers had what they needed to keep local households online.

And our 150+ country senior officers, each in charge of Nokia’s operations in a specific country, have built entirely new ways of working from scratch, unique to each nation, in order to keep our staff and our customers safe.

These individual stories of bravery and perseverance are uplifting on their own. But they are also part of a bigger story: the range of people, products and services that is required to keep telecommunications networks online. Particularly when those networks are under a huge strain.

It is safe to say that more people are working from home today than ever before.

Children and young people are taking online classes.

Friends are meeting for drinks over video conferencing software.

Gaming and streaming have never been more popular.

And as usual, hospitals, depots and logistics hubs around the world rely on safe and secure networks in order to do what they do.

As we have shown here, global internet traffic has experienced a year’s worth of growth in the past few weeks. And so far, the networks are holding up.

As we all adapt to a new and hopefully temporary way of life, I am proud that Nokia is playing its part in keeping that connectivity going – proud, too, to work alongside so many dedicated professionals.

I am profoundly grateful to every one of them. Every Nokia employee. Whether they are working from home, from their office or in the field.

In unique circumstances, tougher than anything we have known before, they have kept the world online. And they have done so while still supporting their families, their neighbors and their local communities.

I too am working from home, in Singapore.

The challenges and benefits will be familiar to many of you reading this. No commute, fewer interruptions – all good – versus a feeling that you get fewer of those just-by-chance conversations that so often spark good ideas. 

But connectivity helps. I am at my iPad early each morning for calls with customers and colleagues based in Asia, then those in Europe, followed by the Americas. So for much of the day I am jumping on call after call.

In the intervening moments, I look out of the window and see a quieter city, but still a functioning one. People entering their homes. Mail being delivered. The occasional ambulance.

Normality has never seemed more out of place. But it is reassuring to know that even at the height of a global pandemic, normal things still happen. Lives are still lived.

Why is it reassuring?

Because it reminds us that people are strong. Communities are strong. The human urge to care, to build, to make things better tomorrow than they are today, better for our children than they are for us, is strong.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a tough, tragic time. Of that there is no doubt.

But it also allows us to glimpse a part of the human spirit that can be too often overlooked.

Our resilience.

That is why I remain optimistic.

Stay strong.

Stay safe.

And stay connected.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia using #COVID19, #coronavirus, #TeamNokia, #connectivity, #5G, #healthcare, #4IR, #sustainability, #CSR.

Rajeev Suri

About Rajeev Suri

During his tenure as Nokia CEO, Rajeev transformed Nokia into a leading technology company for a world connected by 5G and shaped by increasing digitalization and automation. Under his leadership, Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent, successfully expanded into enterprise vertical markets, created a standalone software business, and engineered the return of the Nokia brand to mobile phones.

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