Original post by Monash University
- Researchers at Monash Business School have created a Global Internet Pressure map that measures the strain COVID-19 is putting on internet infrastructure.
- Pressure on internet infrastructure is being felt in Malaysia, Italy, Iran, Spain and Sweden.
Jakarta, 31 March 2020 – As COVID-19 and associated self-isolation measures transform working practices internationally, new data from a commercial spin-off from Monash University reveals internet infrastructure is being put under significant pressure as rolling lockdowns begin to bite.
Dr Klaus Ackerman, Associate Professor Simon Angus, and Associate Professor Paul Raschky, economists at Monash University and co-founders of KASPR DataHaus, a Melbourne-based alternative data company, conducted research on how enormous volumes of global internet activity data can be used to infer human social and economic behaviour.
As part of KASPR DataHaus, they have developed technology that collects and processes, on a daily basis, billions of internet activity and quality measurements for any location in the world.
The team has produced a Global Internet Pressure map that is publicly available and is being updated regularly via the KASPR Datahaus website. Users can explore the global observations in a dashboard, and download the data for specific countries.
Using data from Thursday to Friday, 13-14 Feb 2020 as a baseline, they were able to observe changes in internet latency patterns that emerged during Thursday to Friday, 12-13 Mar 2020, as many countries entered major lock-downs on travel, work, and business.
Associate Professor Paul Raschky explains: “We call this difference measure, between the first days of the lock-down period, and the baseline period in early February, ‘Internet Pressure’, since if it is greater than zero, it exposes latency, or speed, issues, starting to affect millions of internet users across these regions.
“While the values may seem relatively small, such as 3 per cent or 7 per cent, such a difference is far from normal, and indicates that many users are probably experiencing bandwidth congestion. More people at home means more people online – with big bandwidth appetites.
“The situation is not dissimilar to a family trying to make their way through a crowded subway tunnel. Your streaming video or video upload during teleconferencing is made up of thousands of small packets of information; these packets need to find their way down copper and fibre-optic cables across vast distances. The more streaming packets trying to make the journey at once, the more congested the pathway, and the slower the arrival time.”
By focusing on regions within countries having at least 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday 13 March, the researchers were able to examine how well each nation’s internet was performing given the rapid escalation in home-based entertainment, video-conferencing, and communication taking place online.
The findings of Monash University researchers at least provide an interesting view of what is now a global reality. When the government is faced with the option to quarantine an area, the pressure on internet infrastructure cannot be avoided.
“In most OECD countries affected by COVID-19, the internet quality is still relatively stable. Although regions throughout Italy, Spain and somewhat surprisingly, Sweden, are showing signs of strain,” Dr Raschky said.
At the time of the study, researchers say Malaysia appeared as something of an anomaly. Despite having a relatively small number of confirmed cases on 13 March, the day they accessed the latest figures, the country’s internet pressure readings were far more outsized, sitting above China, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Japan – all countries with confirmed caseloads several times larger.
What about Indonesia? Considering the increasing number of positive confirmation cases of COVID-19 which continues to grow every day is not considered able to encourage the slowing of the spread of the coronavirus in Indonesia. According to Indonesian President Spokesman Fajrul Rachman on Monday (30/3), the government is currently considering the option “scale social restrictions with civil emergency or take social restrictions with legal discipline”.
Two weeks ago, the surge in the number of online game players such as “Mobile Legends” and “Fortnite” was noted to increase dramatically when the government announced an appeal to study at home for students, not to mention when government agencies and offices began to impose work-at-home policies for their employees. In addition, based on the monitoring of several Indonesian cellular operators, there was a surge in data traffic of 7-15%.
This certainly provides an additional task for Indonesian cellular operators to continue to provide the best service after the surge in internet use after work and school recommendations from home, as stated by the General Chair of the Indonesian Information Technology Federation (FTII), Andi Budimansyah.
That leaves us with one question, is Indonesia’s internet infrastructure ready to experience Covid-19 pressure?
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