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Supporting the transition to a New Normal: living with a pandemic

As the global community works tirelessly to deal with the impact of Covid-19, much attention has rightly been focused on the healthcare sector and governmental response to the immense challenges posed by the pandemic. While the frontline battle continues, there is of course work behind the scenes to do, to enable the global community to continue life as normal as people around the world stay at home. The stay at home policy, instructed by most governments means billions of people are now faced with turning their homes into offices, conference rooms and in some cases schools for their children.

In Milan, I’ve witnessed first-hand the transformation of daily life. As with other companies in Italy, our team is adhering to the instructions of the government and we’ve quickly put in place policies to help colleagues work from home and support them to strike the work life balance, which as we all know can be incredibly challenging. 

One of the most crucial components of enabling this to happen is the continuation of fast and reliable telecommunication networks. In the space of a few weeks, the world has gone from relying on networks on public transport, commuting routes and in open spaces to network availability in homes. Moreover, given the travel we are used to on our way to work or on weekends to see friends and family, we’d normally need millions of daily handovers between different parts of the network.

The new normal of working remotely or ‘statically’ from home, means that having network capacity on commuting routes and the ability to conduct network handovers is very much a secondary priority to ensuring there is network capacity when people stay at home for the entirety of the day. In some European countries, network operators are seeing as much as 100% increase in static traffic and a 30% reduction in handovers – a stark illustration of the new normal. What’s more, the demand on networks is now constant, the age of ‘spikes’ in the morning and evenings is over, for the foreseeable future. 

However, it’s not as simple as waving a magic wand and seeing the network transform overnight; there are some key factors that must be considered and crucial actions that must be implemented to support the transformation of our lives around the world. We are working around the clock to help operators mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on networks, by advocating the following steps:

  1. Proactive approach: Given the unprecedented pressure on networks, it’s crucial that operators pay more attention than ever to warning signs and closely study the ‘volume drivers’ to understand the new capacity requirements. Predictive analysis and modelling of capacity requirements will enable operators to keep networks running and secure performance for critical services. 
  1. Automation: The ability to “future proof” where issues may arise is crucial, but if operators cannot swiftly move to act and fix problems, then the predictive work and modelling becomes redundant. Automation and Artificial Intelligence is key here, it enables operators to implement solutions far more quickly and efficiently, particularly with 5G networks. In some parts of the world, we’ve seen automation and AI leveraged effectively to ensure new pressures do not overwhelm networks and this is to be commended.
  1. Transformation of time frames: Operators would usually model and predict traffic trends over a twelve-month period or more. In the space of a few weeks, that feels like a lifetime ago. Now operators are modelling traffic trends in 24-hour period – what will the network have to deal with tomorrow? The short-term view and ability to be agile to meet demand underpins the world’s ability to stay and work at home.


Understanding the New Normal for movement patterns

It’s not to say that networks should now only cater for people as they stay at home. People are of course still travelling, although much less frequently. Essential workers still need to travel to hospitals, shops and pharmacies and we see in some parts of the world that people are exercising outdoors. It’s important that people can use the network while they continue to travel, but it is also important for governments to understand movement patterns to know if people are adhering to policies that will save lives. Data can be aggregated, anonymized and securely encrypted to ensure full compliance with GDPR or other data privacy regulations. With robust data protection policies in place, analyzing movement patterns can help inform government policy for movement and travel restrictions – enabled by optimized networks, so that people can continue to work or learn from home.

Our mission statement to “create technology to connect the world” is more relevant than ever. Operators are turning to us as the world has undergone a seismic transformation in the way people work, live and consume technology. We are committed to supporting operators, governments and key public services – all of whom are at the forefront of this once-in-a-generation battle against Covid-19.
We are ready to step up to the plate and look forward to playing our part.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia using #COVID19, #coronavirus, #TeamNokia, #connectivity, #AI.

Dennis Lorenzin

About Dennis Lorenzin

Dennis leads the Network Cognitive Services unit. As executive sponsor for the Global Services Analytics strategic initiative, he led the creation of the AVA cognitive platform and is now focusing on the launch of a cloud-based analytics model for services. Watch for Dennis on the speaker circuit, where he enjoys lecturing on the supply chain, industrial trends, and strategy topics.

Tweet me @DennisLorenzin

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