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"Other unsung heroes"
We share the article of Enrique Reina on the occasion of World Informatics Day.
"For months we have been receiving testimonies from submission of staff health, law enforcement, cleaning services, those who work to maintain the supply chains of essential goods and services, even from anonymous citizens who lend their financial aid to those who, because of their status staff cannot fend for themselves. People who, in some cases, have suffered illness and even death while helping others through their work or solidarity. There are also testimonies of teachers who, at all stages, have had to reinvent themselves to try to keep millions of students in school.
I would like to mention today, with a few examples, the work of IT and telecommunications professionals in this pandemic. I think it is right to highlight this work in the background, as it goes beyond the technical support of the health and scientific activity deployed in recent months.
First came the closure of schools, professional training centers and universities. Almost immediately, e-learning, a minority in the regulated educational levels, became the axis of the teaching activity, when the closure of face-to-face training was ordered. For this, the staff that provides computer support in the centers had to select and implement in record time tools for on-line classes and the massive management of deliveries and grades, and make them available to teachers, whom they had to train and assist, as well as to students, and not infrequently, to their parents.
A few days later, the Government decreed a state of alarm, and three days later, it approved the decree of urgent measures to deal with Covid-19, in which, "in order to implement the containment measures envisaged, while guaranteeing the continuity of business activity and labor relations, priority will be given to organizational systems that allow activity to be maintained by alternative mechanisms, particularly by means of remote work" .
In this way, teleworking, until now reserved to some areas of the company - such as sales and marketing, attention to Username and, frequently, IT Services-, also became the nerve center of many businesses. During "the longest day", from the time the decree was announced until the end of the following workshop , IT staff had to modify applications and resize equipment and communications networks, trying to maintain the security standards of systems that had not been designed for mass access from the Internet. Under the enormous pressure of putting them into production as soon as possible, so that the staff of the companies and of the public administration could work from their homes, minimizing losses, with the same functionality and identical levels of security and availability that they would have in the work centers.
Teletraining, teleworking and... confinement, which brought with it an intensive consumption of on-line leisure. There was also an increase in mobile communications, both for professional and personal relationships, where videoconferencing often helped to mitigate the anguish of families. A sudden increase in network traffic, which engineers had to deal with on the fly by adjusting protocols and putting new infrastructures into service, sometimes with truly innovative solutions.
Do de pecho, too, of these thousands of men and women, always silent, always hidden, always at the service of others from behind their screens".
Enrique Reina is a professor of the master's degree in Telecommunications Engineering at Tecnun and Deputy Director of the IT Services of the University of Navarra.