What is ITS?
ITS works as both an online and offline community where academic, business, and government researchers, industry practitioners, policy makers, and international bodies can consolidate, trade, and discuss specific research and information as they develop.
The main way we achieve that goal is by providing live forums, the biggest of which are our biennial international conferences, where we respond to specific needs as they develop. Beyond that, we also have a membership journal, newsletter, and this website.
Covid-19 smartphone-based contact tracking and tracing: an international perspective
Bronwyn Howell, October 2020
Last month, the International Telecommunications Society, a forum for leading practitioners, academics and policy-makers to meet and share ideas, hosted a webinar involving participants from 27 countries (and according to ITS Chair Stephen Schmidt, “from every continent other than Antarctica”) on technology-based Covid-19 tracking and tracing apps.
Message from the Chair
ITS Chair Stephen Schmidt
Dear ITS Colleagues:
(ITS Chair’s Opening Remarks from the ITS Online Conference, 21-23 June 2021)
Good morning from Canada! Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, depending where you are joining from.
It is really nice to have the ITS family together again, to hear your voices, to see your smiles, and to have the opportunity to share ideas, together, across the world.
One of the really wonderful features of our larger ITS events – our conferences — is that we create them, together, as a community.
The organizers and local host provide a framework or platform, but in a very real and fundamental sense, it is all of you that populate it with content and bring it to life – as paper presenters, as panelists, as discussants and participants.
And all of you have done a really magnificent job, this year, of creating our conference.
I would like to leave you with a challenge:
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the fundamental importance of telecommunications networks to keeping societies connected and functioning. In many countries, these networks have enabled the substantial continuation of work, school, shopping, socializing, worship, and access to healthcare, despite lockdown measures. Moreover, digital communications have been essential for sharing scientific and public health information between researchers, companies, governments, and the public.
The pandemic has also revealed — and even magnified — inequalities of race, gender, income, and opportunity. This is true both within nations and across nations. Within nations, there are classes of work – particularly high-paid, professional work – that are more amenable to online work. Likewise, across nations, advanced service economies are, overall, more amenable to a shift to online work than economies dependent of primary sectors (like agriculture) or secondary sectors (like manufacturing) – developing economies will have a much more limited ability to shift to remote work during pandemic restrictions. (See Dingel & Neiman, How Many Jobs Can Be Done at Home, June 2020:
This difference, in the character of national economies and the degree to which they are amenable to online work, leads to very stark differences in outcomes for across entire populations, particularly in developing countries.
Against this backdrop, inequality itself can be seen as another form of global pandemic, and tackling it should become a global priority, including for telecom researchers, regulators, and operators. I encourage you to reflect on what insights, from this period of lockdown, can be surfaced, continued and incorporated into your scholarship to drive new directions, new insights and new urgency to close digital, social and economic divides.
In short, I am asking you to reflect on how you can make the world better and more just.
As a community, you are doing very important work. Please keep going. And thank you for sharing your research through ITS.