The world in the year 2020 is under iteration caused by Pandemic, which what I called the "Great Pivot" or "Great Transition." I would treat the coronavirus like a catalyst the will lead us to unprecedented changes in our history. It forced us to rethink and innovate as fast as we can be. We are racing on time because every decision and action will have an impact on people's lives and every nation's faith.
Coronavirus or COVID19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) hardly hit the nation's economy and already reclaimed people's lives as we speak. Its emergence is unexpected. Still, we may seem to think its impossible, but it is inevitable. We knew it would come, but no one knows when and how, and here it is. We are not ready, and definitely, we are not prepared. We have warned that this catastrophic will come.
The virus first emerged in Wuhan, China, in 2019 which is a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), but its destructive force started to hit the nations in 2020. One country after another announced a strick measure to contain the virus spreading by implementing safe or physical distancing, community lockdown, and selective mass testing. The experts are in the race of finding the vaccine by using the best technology and research out there to speed up the vaccine development.
The Pandemic caused a lot of notable pain points and holes in our structure and system. It exposed several issues to how we operate and manage through the Pandemic as a society and a nation.
As a designer, observer, and citizen of the world, I want to share my thoughts, experiences, and observations on how the Pandemic designed us in so many ways:
- HEALTHCARE: Health facilities are at overcapacity. The number of COVID19 patients overwhelmed the country's healthcare ability in handling and managing the viral outbreak. Moreover, the lack of medical supplies and health professionals are common scenarios in both emerging and developed nations. The Pandemic paves the way and exposes our healthcare weakness towards the crisis. How can we prepare for another wave? It seems healthcare is more important than the military, which deserves a big chunk of the nation's budget.
- FRONTLINERS: The Pandemic made this word synonymous all over the world. They are the people who sacrifice themselves to save human lives. Doctors, aides, nurses, janitors, drivers, supermarket cashiers, police, couriers are now considered modern-day heroes because they are the ones who expose to be caught by the virus so that we can sit and relax at home and continue our lives. Despite the attention, they are also one who receives little support from the government. More and more people are starting to see their worth; it's time to rethink how to acknowledge and compensate them over the efforts they are performing. These led some proposals like universal income and paying the blue-collar jobs more. This will be an excellent topic to start in the coming years.
- JOBS: The country's strict measures caused by the Pandemic create an impact on our job generation and security. Some governments who are deeply affected by the crisis implement a lockdown, which forced the companies to perform work-from-home setup, and some forced to layoff employees because of the various factor like low cashflow, canceled projects, and weaker sales. So how will the government help the people who lost their jobs and freelancers who rely on their projects? Stimulus funds to support the economy and individual financial support are the programs that the government is backing up. We want to see how this will is going.
- WORK-FROM-HOME AND DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: In regards to the work-from-home and remote setup, some companies not equipped with the necessary tools, framework, and policies with the new work setup. This confirms which companies are ready to adapt or who have transformed from traditional to digital to support their businesses and modern-day work. Companies are now rushing to upgrade their way of working and embrace the new normal. The question is if the work-from-home will be permanent as a working setup? The companies need to rethink and innovate the future of work, like allowing employees to work-from-home once or twice a week or have options on how and where they want to work. Because I believe this is already long overdue and it just happens, the Pandemic came, then suddenly the world is in the remote and work-from-home dry-run. These recent movements can help the companies to determine and iterate on what work setup works for them that will benefit both companies and employees.
- BUSINESSES: The Pandemic most hardly hits BEACH industries. BEACH consists of Booking, Entertainment & Live Events, Airlines, Cruises & Casinos, Hotels & Resorts. Because of this unexpected event, few industries have emerged and gained some advantage over the crisis, such as:
- FinTech (handsfree transfer, digital payments),
- Logistics (foods and supplies deliveries since the people advised to stay at home),
- Games (to combat the boredom),
- Streaming media (to have a sort of entertainment at home),
- Video sharing (to have fun at home),
- Insurance (more than ever, you need a life and health insurance for the future and security),
- Communications (to keep the work going), and
- Essentials like basic goods and medical supplies like a mask, face shield, and PPE.
- TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION: Since the travel industry is hardly affected, it will change the people's travel plans and how will does the sector adapt with their "low-cost," "saver," and "economy" travel options. Since the physical distancing strictly implemented in transportation, you might not see the cheaper alternatives for the meantime while we are in the crisis; thus, the demand will lesser since most of the travelers are in the lower and middle-class. Aside from the airline industry, mass and public transportation are also severely hit because of government restrictions on movement. This makes more sense to me on why mass transportation must be government-controlled because you are removing the profiteering from the equation. Since the mass transportation is private-owned, generating revenue is a priority. So how will you help this business to strive during the Pandemic? How will transportation owners adapt to physical distancing? One thing for sure, the travel will not be the same as before. Is the economy option will stay or not? No one is sure yet.
- NATIONS: Rich and poor or developed and emerging countries are both affected by the Pandemic. Some of us were surprised that some first world countries experience health emergencies since they have a better healthcare system than the emerging countries, and yet they suffer badly. This only proves that no one country is crisis-proof; anyone can be caught in the middle of the storm, even how strong and wealthy you are. We are now in the level playing field, and each country is doing its best to survive and back to its normal where they are. Can we still go back to normal? That's the biggest question.
- CRISIS MANAGEMENT: Experience is your best teacher. I noticed that the countries that went to a similar crisis are the most prepared in terms of handling and managing the situation. Remember SARS, who hit Asia, well, most of them have established guidelines, frameworks, and policies on how to control and manage the Pandemic. However, I want to give a big credit for those countries who experienced it the first time and able to handle it with flying colors. Sad to say, the nation must suffer first to learn and recover from itself. Since every one of the countries affected by this, are we smart enough to handle for the next one? I think yes, experience matters.
- INFORMATION AND SOCIAL MEDIA: Information is free-flowing on the internet, as well as on social media, which gave way to some people to spread false information and fake news. Some of them are political, and some are just to create confusion and make fun of it. As a result, these triggers the social media companies, cyber authorities, and government to flag content and curate information that helps the users knowing which are reliable and accurate.
- COORDINATION AND COOPERATION: Initiatives are okay, especially for the common good. There's no problem with it. Still, for some, it is evident that each company that is doing an application or product designed for the Pandemic has their self-interest or business gain. I guess the KPIs' and competition is still a thing during dark times. It would be better if the efforts are collective so that the people are not confused about these dozen solutions, which are aiming the same thing. After all, it is not helping, and more barriers created because of the lack of cooperation and coordination among makes and builders. Furthermore, make these applications an official tool for future cases. I hope that the government and the public sector unite in building a robust tool for this crisis. Together, everything can be done better.
- CONSPIRACY AND COVERUPS: As a world observer, we still do not know the truth yet where the virus came and how it happened. If this is true, is it worth killing humankind? This is quite disturbing because if a nation is capable of doing this, so it may happen again, and we do not know yet if we can survive this time. So as a concerned citizen, we demand transparency and accountability.
- MEDICINE AND PROFIT: This might be the fastest vaccine ever been developed if we are lucky; that's all because of the advanced technology and worldwide efforts. Though, I read some articles that creating a vaccine for the human is not profitable and creating a vaccine must still have a business case to pursue; that is why the development of the vaccine for coronavirus for the human use not always been a priority for the pharmaceutical industry. Due to the increasing deaths and crisis severity, the table has turned into a favorable one because countries, companies, and institutions are injecting a lot of money and brain to research and develop a coronavirus vaccine. Sadly, we must come to this uncomfortable situation before we realize it.
- SPACES AND RETAIL: Rethinking open space. Due to the advent of Pandemic, we need to find a way on how we design, educate, and entice the public to practice physical distance. Unfortunately, if you think self-discipline is hard, you are right, but public discipline is harder. Many countries are starting to put marks as visual cues to restrict or follow by the people. Moreover, this is not only limited to public and open space, but it includes private space like offices, food shops, stores, and public transportations. This change signals that retail will not be the same as before.
- CHINA VS. THE WORLD: Some notable countries are blaming China for this catastrophic event. These triggers some nations to walk away from China's manufacturing sector and move to other countries like India, Vietnam, and other South-east Asian countries. After all, this might be a favorable move, and putting all resources in one country is a bad idea, especially when a crisis broke, the flow of goods might interrupt, and the business will suffer in the end. So the remaining question is how Chine will cope with recent moves of some countries since manufacturing is one of their biggest sectors?
- WEALTH INEQUALITY: We may agree that the Pandemic placed the nations in the level playing field. However, the rich people in each country are less vulnerable than those of having nothing because they still have more resources to spare. This has been a century-old problem with how the government helps the unprivileged population by freeing them from poverty. The government needs to think a way on how to improve people's lives and convert more people to a middle-class population. I admit this is no simple task for the government but worth trying.
- MENTAL STATE: When you are stuck at home, admittedly that not all people are used to this stay at home lifestyle. When this suddenly happens, you are making much self-adjustment. Aside from this, you are maybe a breadwinner, or you lost a job and many sorts of things mumbling in your head; eventually, it will take on toll to you if you have a weaker mental state. It is right to assume that not all people are the same in dealing, coping, and managing stress and anxiety while there is Pandemic, and it's reasonable to behave like this way. Besides, working from home under a normal condition is different from trying to work from home under the Pandemic. However, there are so many ways to cope during the crisis. Games and streaming videos are the best way to fight boredom. Chatting with friends is the best way to beat loneliness while at home. How can you keep up this way? That is an interesting question. We are born as a social being, and it is our human instinct to interact with the same species.
- MASK: I believe the Pandemic will bring change in the fashion industry. Wearing a mask, face shields, and PPE became synonymous and strictly enforced by the government. The question is, how will these things integrate into our daily wear? Will the mask stay for good?
- URBAN PLANNING AND SMART CITY: it's become more evident nowadays that proper urban planning is crucial for a stronger country. If the government has thought about this, many things will be easier. The bicycle would be a good option for traveling than facing the problem with public transportation's safe distancing. Proper urban planning also includes stable internet connection, integration of technology in public and common services, adequate housing for all, public safety, and security. Another government initiative has resurfaced now and then, which is implementing a national ID system. Generally, people are okay with it, but there are some concerns as to why some people are skeptical about it. The reason may be the fear of government abuse of power and putting your data to more security risk. The government must assure the public that the data will be secured and will not be used for the government advantage. So the government will use and manage the data of its citizen to fight the Pandemic? And how will the government respond to the increasing call for proper urban planning? It's not too late for urban planning, and this will be a worthwhile investment for the future.
- GOVERNANCE AND GOVERNMENT: For a striving nation during these times, people are relying heavily on government support. If the government declares a lockdown or restriction on movement, it is a responsibility to support its people's basic needs; otherwise, they might not survive the crisis, and it will lead to a bigger problem. The government must assume that not all people will still have work during the crisis because businesses might also be affected, and some people work in a "no work, no pay" scheme - it is a domino effect. However, to be fair enough, it is right to think that not all governments are the same in terms of capacity, like providing financial or food support. This is where we asked the private sectors and international organizations to solicit monetary, food support, and assistance in building the capability to fight the disease. Also, the government has to create a plan and execute strategies by building a team of experts that will help them hand in hand. The Pandemic forced the government to design strategies, develop frameworks, and device policies that it can use in a future outbreak. When the Pandemic happens again, the government is more prepared.
- NEW NORMAL: Undeniably, the normal we used to be will not be the same as before. Pandemic affects us in so many ways, from how we live to how we work. Things must have changed for us to survive as a species. Humanity has a good tracking record in dealing with catastrophe events. Will the new normal will stay for good? How will the world change? These are the open question until we ended the crisis.
Indeed, Pandemic is a big test for our resiliency, crisis management, government programs, health infrastructure, and solutions making. Honestly, I never expected that this event would happen in our lifetime. I thought this happens only in science fiction movies or just a piece of record in our history. Nevertheless, no one wants this Pandemic to happen. We cannot go back in time to fix things, so the only way is to move forward, helping each other and survive this crisis together - nothing will be left behind. Because of this crisis, we realized so many things, and this pushed us to our limits.
People are now labeling this troubled time as a NEW NORMAL. So how this new normal works, and how can we operate as a nation by having these constraints? That is what we wanted to know. Everything is still working in progress. Hopefully, a safe and working vaccine will shed some light to end this all.
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