I was recently e-conversing with a colleague on using social networking (SN) tools during a pandemic. How would you get information out? How would citizens know that it is valid information? There is deep concern about security, spoofing and false information on SN sites. I thought about this for a long time and really came up with the conclusion that I don’t think there is a clear answer, nor am I an expert. I can certainly give you my opinion.
If a pandemic were to occur, there more than likely should be many avenues that the information is pushed out.
As I have been teaching computer basics classes to Senior Citizens, the awareness that not everyone has a computer and could not depend on that for information dissemination, is a vast reality. Many Seniors depend on computers at the library or community centers, as other do too. We cannot expect them to go buy a computer just to receive information. I have some students that have never used a mouse or keyboard. Mousing and keyboard are the hardest for them to learn, especially when your arthritis is acting up.
So this goes back to how to get information out, as elderly are more prone to catch the flu, they would not be interested in going out to a community center in risk of catching the flu. So it’s back to the TV, radio and phone. Have information on the TV right after the Price Is Right! Or maybe twitter via WebTV.
The digital divide still exists even though the window is slowing closing. Senior Citizens are just a part of the population.
One of the issues employers might have to address is that some positions that normally wouldn’t be able to work at home, would have to be allowed to. Does that put a burden on the employer to have to supply computers and internet access for all employees that have to stay home. What about positions that share equipment? Some jobs still have restrictions on telecommuting, so would they have to open up their policies to allow more employees to telecommute or work 100% from home. Many employers and government agencies are sticklers for their policies and procedures. However, telecommuting in a pandemic will ultimately fail unless very precise expectations are set early on and the infrastructure is funded.
So the quick answer – go back to the non-electronic way and have multiple ways of dispersing information.