THANKS to modern communications technology, we can access the World Wide Web, online news and social media and interact, send and receive messages and even engage in some trade despite the global pandemic that resulted from the spread of Covid-19. I’m glad that my daughter who is in a lockdown situation in Manila can still order her meals via the motorcycle-riding entrepreneur called Foodpanda.
A lot of observers are saying that what we are now experiencing is worse than any recorded natural disaster and this is perhaps because it is unseen by the naked eye, spreads through human contacts and unlike flu and smallpox, vaccines and medical remedies are still being tried and tested thus social distancing and quarantine are said to be the best way to mitigate and lessen the impact of the death-causing virus.
As I write this column, members of the Baguio-based inter-agency task force of the Cordillera are now utilizing online forums for teleconferencing using net-based platforms such as those tapped by television networks where one can be seen lecturing and demonstrating to subscribers. An online forum was also initiated by the Philippine Information Agency-CAR last week as an alternative to the usual face-to-face Kapihan sa Baguio to lessen physical contacts between covering reporters and front-line service providers from Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development and hospital heads including the Baguio health department. This is now the scheme being done by some policymakers, national and regional line agencies and service providers including the government’s communication arms.
Accordingly, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), in coordination with DOH and other government agencies, is looking into the Singapore-based app “TraceTogether” as one of the potential tools in addressing the Covid-19 health crisis in the country. TraceTogether is said to be a community-driven contact tracing app launched on March 20, 2020, and it works by exchanging short-distance Bluetooth signals between phones to detect other app users who are within about two to five-meter proximity.
With the massive online circulation of people’s opinion, conjectures and sharing of posts from unverified sources, the International Journalists Network came out with a pool or lists of media resources for practicing journalists who also need to be updated on the global perspective and medical updates as well as impact to socio-economic situation worldwide.
In the case of the circulation of fake news in the country, the DICT has linked up with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to form “Task Force Covid Kontra Peke” tasked to prevent and report fake news and address the problematic spread of misinformation as the country grapples with the pandemic. The DICT’s Cybersecurity Bureau (CSB) through its Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-PH) will provide technical assistance on information sharing and analysis for law enforcement agencies, including the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The Criminal Investigation and Protection Group (CIDG) is also helping out in the investigation of online sellers selling the much-needed hygienic items such as face-masks, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers.
With the enhanced community quarantine or pandemic period most likely to extend beyond April, the educational sector from the primary level up to the graduate school are resorting to online lessons similar to open university classes and as this may eventually be the new normal of learning, all teachers or educators must likewise be adaptive to such eventuality.
Now that most of us are practically home-based netizens looking at the outside world using our gadgets, smartphones and personal computers, we also need to further educate ourselves and learn not only netiquettes and how to install program applications to our systems but we also need to discern which is useful and what is not as there are apps like spyware and malware that can be damaging instead of being helpful.