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Start Information Sharing for Recovery Now

By Pete O’Dell, Swan Island Networks:

Restarting the world economy after that COVID-19 crisis starts to ebb is going to be hard. We’ve never turned the world off for everything other than essential services (and kudos to every health care, power, public safety, security, truck driver, and anyone else who can’t be sheltering at home because we’re all relying on you!).

An almost forgotten lesson from 9/11 is the need to share information (connect the dots), and the world is still bad at it – it seems we can’t define what a COVID-19 death is, so even the numbers we’re likely all watching are in question. If everyone goes a different way during the economic restart, we’re going to add months to getting it done, and collectively spend billions of pick your favorite currency on things where a little sharing and coordination up front might have helped everyone.

One example shared with me was food workers and whether they should be tested and certified either recovered or virus-free before they start working again. Sounds relatively benign until you think about the uncountable number of government and private sector decision makers who have to deal with this. If you have 2,000 restaurants in 17 countries, its likely going to be a very complicated period. Repeat that scenario with 10,000 other problems and you start to get a sense of the complexity we’re all going to face getting back to the normal we all took for granted a couple of months ago. (Disclaimer: I know nothing about the restaurant industry except for two very impactful years working for McDonalds in the 70s – but I’m not going back into anyone’s restaurant as a consumer until this gets figured out).

Information sharing on a broad scale started now could help sort out some of these issues. Industry can collaborate with each other, governments at the local, regional and national levels could coordinate, and there could be communications between all the parties before we need to start making random decisions because nobody thought to do it ahead of time.

The NYC Metropolitan Resilience Network was started with this goal in mind; one of the action items after Superstorm Sandy was the inability to share multiple channels of situational awareness information widely across jurisdictions. Over 400 organizations have been credentialed to use the automated situational awareness dashboards that can be augmented with analysts in the event of a crisis.

You don’t have to do all the work, there are many people out there that will have kickass solutions to many of the problems we’re going to face. The key is communicating and sharing all the best ideas and information ahead of time. You don’t have to share your proprietary data, you can monitor other’s efforts, and gain some time while saving some money. Collectively, it could mean a lot to the world at large.

This is something you can do from the couch, home office or wherever you are sheltering in place. Imagine if everyone helped solve one small issue – we might impact the economic restart the way Wikipedia has impacted historical knowledge.


About the Author: Pete O’Dell is the CEO of Swan Island Networks (www.swanislandnetworks.com) and the author of Silver Bullets: How Interoperable data will revolutionize Information Sharing. He wrote it in 2010, and says the concept has never more needed than right now. He can reached via LinkedIn.

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