One silver lining of the pandemic is that it may help the world finally get rid of the blasted fax machine.
Many public health systems still relied on the fax machine when the pandemic began. Positive tests were faxed to health officials for reporting and tracing and then a human had to type that information into a database. When positive tests started rolling in like a tidal wave, health officials finally asked themselves, “Why are we still using this monstrosity?”
One Canadian researcher told the BBC, “Fax machines don’t scale. It’s either the line is open or not. There was a complete backlog of busy signals and they just couldn’t handle the capacity that came in through Covid.”
In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Health proposed legislation to permanently ditch the fax machine and DVD discs. Other countries are finally re-thinking the use of pagers to reach on-call doctors. Pagers!
Yet the fax machine still has some allies. It cannot be hacked and recent events have shown us that server-based communication systems can.