Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Innovating to Zero COVID19

By Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez

April 29 2020 — Monterey, CA

(Image source: Medium)

How to innovate our way out of Coronavirus hell by doing the right things in the right order

[Editor’s note: Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez is a professor at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He describes himself as a futurist, geopolitician, and sociotechnologist at the intersection of policy innovation and security entrepreneurship.]

In good system thinking practices, sequencing matters as much as the acts that are being sequenced. With COVID19, getting the sequencing right is more important than ever as millions of lives are at stake.

Entrepreneurs have perfected the sequencing of business deployments down to a science. Recent examples are Elon Musk’s “master plan” to chain-link technological steps towards a solar economy by removing, one by one, the hurdles that had stalled electric car adoption and Bill Gates’ famous Innovating to Zero plan to fight global warming, structured around research and development to respond to all the barriers that make CO2 reduction so difficult.

Both interventions share something in common. They spend an uncanny amount of time thinking about how things fail to only then decide where you can actually intervene and in which order you should do it.

In a recent story, I described how the healthcare system’s capacity to fight COVID19 is not a fixed value and why it matters to innovate to make sure that this value increases faster than the spread of the virus.

Here, I explain in which order those innovations need to be deployed to get out of COVID19 hell in a successful way. In subsequent posts, I will explore, one by one, the potential innovations needed, and how the government can play a central role in accelerating the development and adoption of those innovations.

Think of each of these first three steps as a stepping stone to the next one, until we reach the fourth one: global deployment of a vaccine.

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