As June begins, the world is still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. The toll of human lives lost and families forever changed continues to climb. The Internet has helped our societies stay connected and continue to function as we limit physical interactions to prevent further spread of novel coronavirus. It has also facilitated the spread of a shocking video illustrating the continued proliferation of another deadly disease in America: racism and systemic indifference to black suffering. At this writing, the streets of U.S. cities are literally aflame and platforms amplify cries for justice and peace.
The world ahead will likely be very different from the one of just a few months ago. Unemployment numbers are staggering and many jobs will disappear or be very different in the months and years ahead — from an acceleration of automation to a new acceptance of remote interactions.
Internet connectivity is essential to equality of opportunity in our increasingly virtual society. Nowhere is the need, or the disparity more clear than on tribal lands — which have experienced some of the highest rates of coronavirus contagion — where Internet connectivity is still lacking. PCI has supported efforts to increase tribal connectivity since its founding through the “Project Eagle Feather” initiative, led by Matthew Rantanan. Matt was recently honored by Internet2 with the Rose-Werle Award. We congratulate Matt for this well-deserved honor.
Another trend accelerated by COVID-19 is a recognition that the international organizations of the 20th century will have to evolve to meet the challenges of our time. This month, our Digital Cooperation and Diplomacy fellow Kristin Little describes her vision for PCI’s DCD Initiative and some of the work already underway to connect key players and reimagine how these organizations interact with each other and the people of the world. This includes a recent design thinking project “kickoff” event with Hasso Plattner Institute, working with the Digital Diplomacy Initiative of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IEEE Standards Association.
As the Internet takes on an even greater role in our institutions, our workplaces, and our society, the mission of putting humanity at its center has never been more important. I thank you for being a part of this community dedicated to that aim and wish you well in these challenging times.