Top 3 2022 Tech Trends: Will Your Community be Left Behind?
Nearly two years ago, measures put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic underscored how important technology, and the ability to access that technology via a high-speed internet connection, is to our daily lives. Remote work, distance education, eCommerce, and telemedicine became vital. It was relatively easy for many Canadians to technologically adapt to this new reality, as 87.4% of Canadians have internet access. Trends that started during the pandemic are here to stay and new technology is emerging that will improve lives and make businesses more profitable, making a high-speed internet connection more important than ever.
Meanwhile, only 46.6% of those in rural Canada have access to the internet. This means that over half of those living in rural Canada are unable to access the technology that most of us take for granted. Without access to high-speed internet, rural communities will fall even further behind. Unless they act now, these communities risk losing existing residents, won’t be able to attract new ones, and won’t be able to compete in an increasingly digitized economy.
In this blog, we’ll look at how three of the top tech trends in 2022 could improve your community, but only if you can access them. Then, we will look at community broadband networks, rural Canada’s best hope to thrive in 2022 and beyond.
The Internet of things (IoT) is a network of physical objects that can communicate with the internet without human intervention. IoT has been around for years, but it is becoming more sophisticated. New applications are developing that can make many aspects of day-to-day life easier. With state-of-the-art IoT technology on the rise, a community that can’t provide an internet connection may become less attractive to residents and businesses.
The demand for smart home features from potential home buyers and renters is growing. Smart security systems are integrating the management of access control, lighting, alarms, and cameras in one interface. Domestic robots are going beyond vacuums. New products are emerging, that can provide security, help with chores, or just provide some company. 81% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase a new home that has smart technology, so without access to the internet, your community’s population could dwindle.
IoT in healthcare can improve health outcomes, and in communities already struggling with telemedicine, your residents’ access to health care is at risk. It is estimated that 5 million Canadians do not have access to a family doctor. It’s especially hard to access healthcare in rural communities as they are only served by 8% of physicians in the country. Telemedicine is a huge benefit in communities where hospitals and clinics are sparse. Remote IoT devices that can monitor, collect and analyze patient data in real-time can improve the effectiveness of telemedicine appointments and reduce the need for in-person follow-up visits. Your community’s health care institutions can also benefit from IoT. Automation can streamline many clinical and administrative tasks, helping to ease the burden on rural healthcare centres that may already be dealing with a lack of resources.
Coming to the forefront, after Facebook changed its name to Meta, the metaverse is essentially a virtual world that uses augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to allow people to interact in a virtual space. The metaverse, at least in the way you might imagine it in a sci-fi movie, won’t come to fruition in 2022, but demand for AR and VR technology will likely increase and access to high-speed internet will be vital.
Thanks to AR and VR, distance learning and remote work will be more immersive, with new technologies that allow users to create avatars and interact with classmates and colleagues in a virtual space. In 2022, Microsoft is expected to roll out a beta release of a virtual meeting room feature for its ubiquitous Teams app. Facebook is working on a similar product called Horizon Workroom.
The metaverse has the potential to remove physical barriers to commerce, making it easier to operate an eCommerce business and improve customer experience. It’s expected that many fashion retailers will implement virtual try-on technology, allowing customers to see how the clothing will look on them before they purchase. Those looking to buy large items like furniture can virtually place an item in their home to see how it would look before making a purchase. Businesses need access to high-speed internet to stay on the cutting edge of this trend.
Work from Anywhere
Remote work is more than just a fad brought on by the pandemic. A 2020 poll by Buffer poll found that a whopping 98% of remote workers would like to continue working remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their careers. Business Insider points to a disconnect between potential employees who want the flexibility to work from home, and employers who want 100% in-office workers as a contributing factor to labour shortages. Canadian eCommerce giant Shopify sold its head office and implemented a work from anywhere model, and more companies may follow suit.
Rural communities long witnessed their residents leave small towns in favour of more economic opportunities in urban areas, but the work-from-anywhere model could reverse this trend. A report from the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship found that a “rural boom” is happening in Canada as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ontario, BC, and Atlantic Canada have seen the biggest influx of urban dwellers seeking out the lower cost of living and relaxed pace of rural communities.
Remote workers not only need high-speed internet to complete the most basic tasks, but they also need access to the most up-to-date tools. As we discussed above, AR and VR can change the way remote workers interact with their colleagues. Twenty twenty-two will see companies becoming more proactive about cyber security, and your community needs internet access to retain and attract business.
Get Connected with a Community Broadband Network
Without high-speed internet, your community will be unable to keep up with a rapidly digitized world. You’ll be unable to retain existing residents and businesses or attract new ones, which will deepen the technological and economic divide between rural and urban Canada.
For decades, rural Canadians have waited for large telcos to solve this problem. Time and time again, large telcos have failed rural Canada. There just isn’t a business case, so rural communities have suffered from low speeds, or no access at all.
But there is a new way. Community broadband networks allow municipalities to take charge of their own future. It’s a carrier-neutral solution that uses fibre broadband technology to create long-term value for any community.
Community broadband networks provide the following benefits that large telcos just can’t deliver:
- Universal Access: The network ensures every member of the community can access high-speed internet and the benefits it provides.
- Future-proof Technology: The network provides a fast, reliable connection with plenty of bandwidth to serve the community well into the future as technology continues to develop.
- A Customized Solution: There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for rural Canada. Ideally, community broadband networks should work within the framework of the community’s unique strengths and opportunities to keep costs down.
- Profitable Business Plan: The broadband network keeps revenue in the community rather than funneling it to large urban centres where large telcos are headquartered, benefiting the local economy.
While fibre broadband networks are an ideal solution, there are situations where it’s just not possible to build the necessary infrastructure. For example, there are remote areas in the far north covered in large ice sheets that make it difficult to lay fibre cable. But that doesn’t mean these communities can’t be connected to the internet. Next-generation satellite technology can provide fast, reliable internet to remote locations.
Your rural community doesn’t have to be left behind. ROCK Networks provides an end-to-end solution to help your municipality design, build, and implement a community broadband network. We also understand that fibre is not always viable, so we also offer complete satellite connectivity and terminal solutions. Get in touch with us, so your community can adopt exciting new technologies that help retain and attract residents.