Boris Johnson made history on Tuesday, chairing the first ever Cabinet meeting to be held virtually.
20 ministers dialled in via the Zoom software, with only the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Matt Hancock present in the room.
While millions of people are using Windows 10 to effectively work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, its significance to those in power has perhaps been underestimated. Tuesday’s meeting saw an important update from the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty, making it crucial in the attempts to beat the virus and save lives.
With strict restrictions on close contact with anyone outside your household currently in place, the regular setup in a small room at 10 Downing Street is simply impossible.
While there are many great tools for remote working, the Government appears to have chosen Zoom, which allows up to 100 participants even with the free version.
Of course, this poses questions over security. While Zoom meetings are end-to-end encrypted, you often only need to enter a meeting ID to join the call. The leaking of this information could be damaging to the Government’s long-term strategy.
However, the same argument could be applied to WhatsApp, which many ministers already use. Despite a number of past security breaches, similar encryption standards mean it is considered among the most secure messaging platforms.
Nonetheless, the fact that technology can now be harnessed to maintain the workings of government is commendable. In reality, the slim chance of a security breach pales in comparison to the national emergency facing the UK at the moment.
Of course, much of the current activity online doesn’t come with the same high stakes, but it can still offer a vital lifeline to those in need.
With over 2.5 million over-75s are thought to have internet access in the UK, it can be a remarkable tool for good in these trying times. Loneliness was already a serious problem without the immediate threat of a global pandemic, so it’s important to reach out and offer your support where possible.
Face-to-face contact is off the agenda for the time being, but using technology to stay in contact can be critical to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people. For over-75s without internet access, a simple call can go a long way.