During this deadly pandemic, many countries have released different versions of mobile applications leveraging GPS in order to identify the COVID-19 patients and help control the spread of virus. Most of these applications are downloadable for free using individuals’ mobile numbers. Once launched, it will categorize the users as safe or unsafe using different criterions such as existence of virus symptoms, or international travel history.

According to the Pew Research Center, about 69 percent of Americans access social media, with Facebook being the most popular tool. Crisis management teams for state and local governments can leverage these social media platforms to provide alerts, news and other important information to their communities. Nancy is a joint MBA/MPP candidate at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, focused on applying emerging technologies to public sector challenges within the areas of mobility, infrastructure and urban development. Previously, she spent five years working in the technology space conducting research and designing solutions for how communities access information, transportation and income.

A second role for which government institutions are well-suited is providing the public goods that form the infrastructure of a community. In disasters, public goods may include such activities as search-and-rescue operations and evacuation coordination. The challenge for government in disaster response and relief is determining when it should take a “hands-on” role and become actively involved, and when the goal of recovery is best-served by stepping back in favor of other institutions better suited to the task. Part 1 identifies disaster-related activities in which the benefits of government action clearly do outweigh the costs. Part 2 uses economic analysis to explain the obstacles to success in the disaster-relief activities where government frequently falters.

In a free market, firms can gain monopoly power to charge high prices to consumers and monopsony power to pay lower wages to workers. Government intervention to limit mergers and monopoly power can lead to increased when driving in rain the road becomes the most slippery: economic welfare. At the other extreme, Marxist economists argue that the government should intervene in all areas of the economy to ensure the most efficient and equitable distribution of resources.

For example, if automobile prices reflected all the environmental costs of tailpipe emissions, auto makers would have stronger incentives to use new pollution control technologies in new car models. The revolution in information technology promises economic changes almost as great as those of the industrial revolution itself. Digital data storage, manipulation, and communication may not appear to have environmental implications, but some examples suggest otherwise.

THE NEW CORONAVIRUS has spread rapidly across the world, reaching more than 150 countries in just over two months, infecting more than 250,000 people. From lockdowns in Italy and China and California to disruptions in international travel and trade to school closings across America, unprecedented public challenges are requiring public leaders to consider unprecedented measures. What can governments do to contain this pandemic and manage the severe disruption it is causing? We asked experts at Harvard Kennedy School to identify public problems and public solutions. Not surprisingly, given its long-term potential, a number of countries have identified information technology as a crucial infrastructure need for national development.