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Put to the test: Iceland's crisis management and what this means to data centre prospects

"...when there is a crisis, we are better than any other nation in the world.” - Kari Stefansson, CEO of DeCode Genetics

3 Min Read
Put to the test: Iceland's crisis management and what this means to data centre prospects

During spring 2020 we have observed various coping strategies balancing between complete lockdown and freedom under the responsibility to cope with COVID-19. We have also seen the importance of functioning IT – some claim that their business’ digital transformation was ultimately brought about by the pandemic.
We have also seen how prepared countries are, how people and governments cooperate - or not - and strategies to contain and eradicate an invisible enemy.

Little Iceland diagnosed the first case in March and faced the same challenge as others - highly infectious disease and limited resources - even so, Iceland has received extensive praise for excellent containment of the pandemic and priceless scientific insights.

What put Iceland in such a favorable situation? Everything but favorable circumstances - needing to be independent in many aspects alongside managing rough natural conditions, Iceland has a vivid history of catastrophes. Additionally, small economies tend to be difficult to keep alive as crises do not take proportionality into account. Having been exposed to both natural and economic challenges, Iceland has fostered a preventative culture where there is always a plan B with agility and motivation of population and state.

The key to coronavirus spread- and behavior insights was the screening and extensive research, which Kari Stefansson, CEO of DeCode Genetics, implemented cooperating with the Directorate of Health when only three cases were confirmed. At this point, no emergency state was declared in the US and the UK was considered a low-risk area. On April 21st, over 12% of the population had been tested.

Early on, authorities hired developers to create a tracking app – ahead of Europe. During the highest peak, Europe faced a shortage of testing materials - something Icelandic companies immediately created functional alternatives to. When respirators began to become short for the darkest forecast, private entities and businesses donated machines to keep up the readiness level. When remote patients needed to be transported in helicopters, ÖSSUR created a virus-proof stretcher in weeks.

Like any other country, however, the Icelandic economy has taken a hit, especially due to the dependence on tourism. The Icelandic state, however, promptly demonstrated one of the strongest support packages in history as well as initiatives to tackle the damage.

Meanwhile, the data centre industry has been undisrupted - technicians have served clients in facilities and remotely – made possible by being the world’s best internet-connected country. At Opin Kerfi, no client experienced downtime or service compromise since the outbreak. A quick Google search will reveal that this is not the case in Europe, where several facilities had to be temporarily shut down and disconnected, alongside lockdown problems applying to subcontractors servicing data centers – even those who run IT operations for healthcare facilities.

Iceland is one of the first countries to successfully and extensively lift restrictions – yet these questions are often asked:

Is the nation too small to handle a disaster?
Is Iceland too remote for high-tech environments?
Is the network connection adequate for mission-critical setups?

The Icelandic IT sector has once again proven clients that they can have complete peace of mind and focus on what is next. In this case, due to the diligent planning and precaution, businesses hosting with us did not waste resources on putting out fires where they could be prevented.

While no nation or economy has been untouched, the one-of-a-kind, successful approach in a nation, system, economy, and culture has been reinforced by the extensive experience of the calamities which are so often a concern to investors. Once again, there seems to be proof that what is often seen as a disadvantage has demonstrated itself as the opposite.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the clients in our 3 service locations has experienced downtime or maintenance challenges despite the limitations and tight regulations in regards to workplace operations.
Besides, Iceland is one of the first countries in the world to entirely eradicate the virus within the country borders and resume life and business to normal standards.

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