Tech Solutions in COVID-19

#LetsContinYU Series

By William Griffiths

How has COVID-19 changed our relationship with technology?

Technology has been at the forefront of the fight to flatten the curve on the novel Coronavirus and help find a vaccine.

This fight has taken on many forms – from helping physicians better manage the equipment they require, better triage the patients, better understand who is more ill than others to trying new approaches to finding vaccines or to combat the virus, all the way through to helping people with 3D printers print out protective face shields for the healthcare community.

“The change has been dramatic. We’ve been moving slow and steady towards a new way of working, a new way of learning, a new way of interacting with one another. And this has really jolted I think everybody,” says John Weigelt, National Technology Officer with Microsoft Canada and Program Advisory Council member for both the York University Cyber Security and Cloud Computing programs.

Now we are saying things like “e-commerce” and “e-learning” but as these technological tools become part of our lives, we may just consider them commerce and learning.

What will the future look like in 2021?

Come January or February 2021, it will be interesting to see how many of these work styles, lifestyles, social styles and other changes in technology will remain. Will we learn to embrace these changes as part of our new normal, or, will we say: “The time for that is over. It’s time to go back to these types of activities.”?

“When I talk to people across the country, I do have a very strong emphasis on how technology changes our lives, but it’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s technology from a personal lens, or a people lens. We always have to remember that there are people that use the technology, and that people are growing through the use of technology,” says Weigelt.

This crisis has really first and foremost reminded us of how human we are. And how fragile we are. And how technology can help us reconnect on the human level, reconnect between who we are as people, and our communities as well.

How can businesses ramp up their technology in COVID-19?

During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses and organizations have had to deploy a lot of technology in a rapid fashion in order to maintain continuity. The situation is similar to how a community responds to a flood. When the flood comes in, you place the sandbags down to protect what you have. When the flood recedes, you remove those sandbags. In the same way, once the pandemic is over, companies may want to retire some of the technologies that were necessary during the pandemic, but may not be after.

Adopting these new trends for the future workplace

The world has fundamentally changed with this crisis in a short amount of time. Trying to predict what the world will look like a year from now is very difficult. But there are also big trends that we see happening and many businesses are adjusting to this new way of operating in a technology-based world. Not too long ago, it was unimaginable for some organizations to see their employees work from home, but now many are considering making this a permanent policy. It will be interesting to see what other temporary technology-based solutions that were implemented during the pandemic will become a part of our new normal in the years to come.

How can people get over their fear of technology in COVID-19?

People feel uneasy about technology when they don’t fully understand it. Because of COVID-19, technologies have been implemented quickly and in new and different ways, which can cause some to feel uneasy. The best way for people to get over their fear of technology is to try and understand it. This can be achieved in a number of ways – researching the technology, talking about it with knowledgeable people, and trying to actually use the technology to see how it functions. In the new normal the pandemic has created, we will become more reliant on technology, not less. It’s important to use these tools in a concrete way to better understand them and overcome our concerns.

For additional information on how technology is changes our lives, check out John’s YouTube series, Canada: Innovation Nation. You can also read two articles written by John on LinkedIn about re-framing data and data sharing.

Jon Weigelt

Jon Weigelt is a Program Advisory Council member for both the York University Cyber Security and Cloud Computing programs. He is also the National Technology Officer for Microsoft Canada and is responsible for driving Microsoft Canada’s strategic technology efforts. In this role, Mr. Weigelt helps business and governments innovate with technology while avoiding the unintended consequences that might arise. Mr. Weigelt’s 25 plus years of experience in cyber security, and his pioneering work in protocols, practices, policies, programs and partnerships to increase cyber assurance, provides him with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities associated with overcoming the inertia often associated with initiatives to increase trust and confidence in the digital world.

The York University School of Continuing Studies offers program in several emerging, in-demand technical fields, such as our Cyber Security Programs and Certificate in Cloud Computing Strategy. Learn more about our program offerings to see how you can start a career in one of these fields.