Unlocking Digital Values: A Path To Recovery and Beyond


Join The Economist’s executive and diplomatic editor, Daniel Franklin, for an in-depth discussion about how we can leverage the current crisis to reset, evolve and reorganise for the better through digital connectivity.


Discussion Theme:

During lockdowns around the world, digital connections sustained personal and professional life. Adapting immediately to this new normality became the only option for governments, businesses and organisations.

Institutions which embraced the digital transformations of their offerings, and which invested accordingly, have enjoyed impressive benefits. Take Estonia, the citizens of which all own a digital identity linked to their bank accounts and to the tax system. As a consequence, working out which Estonians were receiving needed government support was relatively simple.

Meanwhile firms which deliver goods and services through digital platforms, such as those involved with online learning or digital healthcare, saw demand surge during the pandemic. Zoom’s count of daily active users jumped twentyfold to 200m in the three months to March 2020. Amazon wants to hire some 100,000 workers to meet demand during the crisis.

The pandemic exposed digital inadequacy quickly. At the end of March, the website of the INPS, the Italian social-security office, received 300,000 applications for welfare in a single day. It crashed. In several countries, including Spain, mobile operators have asked users to reduce their data consumption owing to the network overload.

How can institutions change to meet digital needs going forward? How can they deploy an appropriate strategy in months–not years? How can they pay for the transformation? And what about privacy concerns? 

The costs need balancing against the possible benefits. Digital infrastructure can facilitate recovery in the wake of covid-19. What remains open for discussion is both how it can improve social equity and inclusiveness, and how technology can ensure cities and countries build more cohesive communities for the future.

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM GMT / 11:00 AM – 12:00PM EST

Location: Virtual

Date: Thursday, October 29, 2020