Again a phase of economic depression. After war, now it is SARS. Unfortunately it has
primarily struck the dragons and tigers – the South East Asian tigers. Another wave of recession is beginning to creep in and have its effects. A recession, which started more as a mental blockage (to visit or be there), than direct economic repercussions.
If globalisation has been perceived by many as a boon to this world, this can be interestingly termed as one of its associated fallouts. A fascinating aspect of the SARS episode is connectivity and its spread. The manner in which it originated in a province of China and remained in hibernation (for the rest of the world’s information) till it got blown out of proportion and beyond control is worth noticing. Questions about the unfathomable ‘communicable’ infrastructure of information technology does take shape where information of such nature didn’t flow for the good of many. The nature of flow of the menace has been unique too. Unlike AIDS, this hasn’t stretched its tentacles in areas like Africa or South Americas comparatively as it has done to Europe and North Americas. Why countries in South East Asia became the hub of the disease and ‘lesser-equipped’ or ‘lesser-developed’ countries of South Asia remain by and large free? Is travel from Hong Kong to Canada is more than the travel from Sri Lanka and India to Singapore?
Soon followed an interesting pattern of implications of the SARS episode. To start with – the bombardment of information in the public domain including mapping. Particularly for India, the media and the government created so much panic about SARS that WHO had to intervene to declare the country SARS free. What remains largely unnoticed is the parallel restructuring and re-organisation of business strategies; asset and resource management and re-writing of targets for many organizations in these critically affected areas. Strategic and locational mapping of its employees, their movement and circulation done by some industries, even though may be more of risk management in its initiation, but can leave back enduring cases of enterprise GIS.
Do we restrict ourselves to just masking and quarantining? Or we need to rethink, of perhaps the many underlying issues, of information and communication, of spread and international trade patterns, of risk and logistics management, of mapping and analyzing, and many more.
SARS is all about information diseased. Isn’t it?