As the pandemic spring has turned into the pandemic summer—and with no sign of abating once fall arrives—Americans are beginning to grapple with how the disease will change daily life forever. Across the country, empty streets and empty office towers don’t just mean a change in how we work—entire communities have relocated to new places.
“Reopen the economy” has entered the pantheon of American political catchphrases. And while white collar workers may reap the benefits of a post-COVID world—one in which employers recognize that—with a powerful enough internet connection, anyone can work from home—blue collar workers won’t see those benefits.
But it’s not just in the workplace. Medicine and education are also being rethought in real time. Come September, school will look radically different than it did a year ago—but who are the students that stand to gain from at-home learning? How can we ensure that all students—regardless of race and family wealth—can thrive while learning digitally? And how do we make sure that doctor’s appointments conducted over the internet are accessible to everyone who needs care?
One day the pandemic will end. But before that happens, we need to make sure that the world it leaves in its wake is a just and equitable one. Finding the answers to these questions is the first step.
In this episode of the TechTank podcast, CTI Senior Fellow Darrell West hosts a conversation with Annelies Goger, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program, and Makada Henry-Nickie, a fellow in Governance Studies. The three discuss how COVID-19 is impacting employment, healthcare, and education during pandemic-related shutdowns and how its effects may be felt in these areas long after the virus subsides.
TechTank is a bi-weekly podcast from Lawfare and The Brookings Institution exploring the most consequential technology issues of our time. From racial bias in algorithms to the future of work, TechTank takes big ideas and makes them accessible. In a series of roundtable discussions and interviews with technology experts and policymakers, moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West unpack tech policy debates and highlight new data, ideas, and policy solutions. Future episodes will explore the role of technology in election interference, disinformation campaigns, school reopening and broadband access, the digital divide and more. Sign up to receive the TechTank newsletter for more research and analysis from the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings.
On digital vaccine passports: "'We need to be gathering data on what this means for people who lack access to digital resources,' Turner Lee says. At the same time, we can’t necessarily eliminate this technology altogether: 'We’re stuck. We need to do it because of the health consequences.'"