I live in the Milan area, Italy since 2002 and recently after the Italian Government took radical precautions to stop spreading contamination with Coronavirus, I have received hundreds of messages and calls from all different countries, sometimes from colleagues or friends with whom I was not in contact for years. They were asking me about the real situation here.
Today, 11 March 2020, according to Angelo Borrelli, head of the civil protection agency, the number of deaths from Coronavirus in Italy rose to 631. The total number of cases is over 10,000 and of those originally infected, 1004 had fully recovered. A total of 877 people are in intensive care.
The Italian Government asked all the people to „stay at home” following the China experience, where numbers of infections are now decreasing. Under the new decree, people will only be able to travel between cities for emergency reasons and can face fines and up to three months in jail for breaking quarantine rules. All public events are now banned, cinemas, theatres, gyms, discos and pubs closed, and funerals, weddings, and sporting events canceled – including Serie A matches. All schools and universities will remain closed until 3 April 2020.
For the past two weeks, my children are at home and my son’s school immediately started to follow the timetable of lessons and teachers are delivering lectures online. Teachers are also planning interrogation of the students.
The school of my daughter which, I admit, is the Art High School in Milan, they have some difficulty to organize learning online. For the last two weeks, my daughter had only a few lessons, but I see now the big effort to change this situation and make sure all the lessons are regularly delivered.
The situation is serious and all the precautions are very wise, I believe however that this forced „stay at home” will bring some positive change: the way Italy is operating.
I recall back in 2000 I was responsible for e-learning in IBM and we were offering various solutions for distance learning. Already in 2002, I was working from home.
Until today, although we had all the tools available and were connected nearly everywhere, still, the majority of Italian service and technology companies have preferred to have people in the office, not measuring the actual effectiveness of their work.
As of today, many service companies are obliged to organize themselves in a smart working model allowing their employees to deliver their job from home.
In many countries such as the USA and UK, it is already a normal way of working, but for Italy, the current situation will create a Quantum Leap into a wider smart working. The same change will affect also schools where the distance learning model is being implemented due to the current situation.
I hope that even when the things will go back to normal, which I am sure they will, many offices and schools will not go back to traditional working or studying mode.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said last night "We need to change our lifestyle. We need to change it now".
Let us use this experience to move our world into the real future which is today!