The number of masks required, how many tests have been conducted, ventilators back-ordered, who has been infected, who is immune and who is not, are all part of instrumenting the current pandemic using network performance and cloud data.
The telecommunications sector has always used this but the current situation puts data scientists in their element.
Of course, the pandemic is catastrophic, however all the data that is being gathered will reinforce the current model and help us get closer to the right approach, should the next pandemic or another disaster of such magnitude, strike in the future.
Many are now looking for viable solutions through rigorous online collaborations. It is possible that this will become the only medium for command, control and organization. Undoubtedly, digital tools were important before and application such as Microsoft Teams were growing quickly. But now, it is widely reported that their usage is rapidly increasing and could be part of a critical lasting shift when the pandemic and its precautionary counter-measures, are no more.
An article in Forbes reports that Microsoft has seen a 775% rise in the utilisation of its cloud services in areas where lockdowns, social distances or ‘shelter in place’ orders are in effect. This accounts for much of the US, India, China, Canada, the UK, multiple European countries, and several countries in the Middle East. Other impressive statistics from Microsoft state that there are now 44 million daily Teams subscribers and a massive 900 million online meeting minutes.
Last week, online work communication solutions application, Slack saw 9000 new subscribers and the platform reached its highest rate of 12.5 million connected users.
Opensignal’s analysis of mobile experience from user’s smartphones, detected a week-on week increase in the percentage of time British smartphone users are spending on WiFi in the third week of March. This has risen by 6.4% every week to 68.9% by March 16 and has increased from 64.7% as per the previous week.
There are also other network stats which confirm Opensignal’s numbers. According to a tweet from BT’s head network architect, Neil McRae, “Traffic levels [are] almost routine now – constant 8-10Tb/sec across our fixed network at around midday – well off our peak and then growing in the evening to around the 15Tb/sec mark. All well below our biggest traffic peak. Mobile still slightly down. “
Countries like the UK where stay home rhetoric is in force have revealed that static mobile users are already having an impact on the numbers. This implies that no mobility means people are using their home broadband instead of their mobile phones – largely symptomatic of the current situation.
Another thing about the access network loads is that an increase in load on one network may lighten the load on another. Business users working from home may just be shifting their activity onto another access network, leaving the load on the core network.
The big question is will we see substantial changes in work and employment after massive amounts of the global population have been working from home for several months. How will this experience influence employment and Human Resources Policy?
Like most new concepts people might begin by detesting their enforced isolation and then look back on it with romanticism once it has finished. Perhaps they may even request for home working to be extended and even implemented on a permanent basis. However what is important is at least we will have reliable statistic to help reach the right decision.