Wireless Internet Technology Will Change Our Economy

My day job puts me in a world, which has a long history. Putting food in our mouths is about as old as it gets. Yes, “now a days” it is full of new technology and modern methods to make me more efficient and to put more and more food on the table. Still though, it’s all about producing food. Mankind has been doing that seemingly forever.

So even if you don’t take advantage of some of the newer technologies, an argument can be made farmers still produce food just like their forebears. That’s not so in a big part of our Canadian economy. If you look at the information technology sector of our economy, large parts of that didn’t even exist a few years ago. It’s like so new and changing so fast, it’s even hard to write about it. Where would we be without Internet access today?

Unfortunately in that case, you wouldn’t be reading cktimes.ca. If you were it wouldn’t be in cyberspace. Here at cktimes.ca we continue to pioneer the media, one bit at a time. Over the last three years many of us have gotten on-line to file stories from all over the world. Dr. A.K. Enamul Haque is probably the king of that. He has filed East West from Dubai, Holland, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sir Lanka and high up in the air over Asia. Find a wireless Internet hot spot and cktimes.ca columnists can publish from almost anywhere.

Anywhere might become a little more common in the future. What you say? I say that because some major cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco and New Orleans are planning new low cost, broadband wireless services in the next year. Just last week Toronto Hydro Corp. announced plans to turn Toronto into one great big wireless hot spot. So anywhere you go in Toronto, you’ll be able to go “on-line” with a click of a mouse.

There will be a fee for that little service. Who knows what it might be. However, it is likely to be cost effective. Right now in Canada the wireless market in Canada amounts to $8 billion a year. Mostly the major mobile phone carriers take this up. Big utilities like Toronto hydro want part of that action.

You might ask why we need this? You might ask why these big city folk would want to blanket Wi-Fi network across a whole city region? Well, aside from the obvious web surfing opportunities, there is a whole new world of business opportunities just waiting to be tapped.

How about a return of photo radar hooked up to wireless Internet? This would take pictures of offending motorists; upload the pictures to a computer server, which would send an electronic summons over email, all in real time. How about hydro smart meters and parking meters hooked up by Wi-Fi, which would automatically take readings and charge consumers? The list is endless. It’s a great business opportunity.

Some of you including publisher John Gardiner might think of this akin to “1984”. That’s the year some futurists used to say “big brother” would be looking over us watching our every move. Clearly, there are some “privacy issues” here, which will surely see their day in court. The bottom line is at some point this will have to be worked out. Everybody likes the Internet but using it to oversee the “babbling masses” isn’t good for anybody.

Not everybody is on this bandwagon. Like it or not there are “issues” with wireless technology. Is it a health hazard? Are those wireless electronic waves causing health problems as they bombard us from all angles? Is it the health hazard nobody wants to talk about, including all levels of government? Is all this health talk piffle?

I don’t know. However, I do know that Lakehead University in Thunder Bay decided against a total wireless campus environment earlier this year. Health issues were a concern as well as a few other issues. I know I was surprised to hear this. Maybe those wireless hot spots are frying our brains.

Nobody really knows. It’s just like spraying agricultural pesticides. Many farmers know that’s not real good, but with consumer’s penchant for cheap food they don’t have a choice. Nobody is going to stop doing that, just like nobody is going to stop wireless Internet. It’s new, here to stay and that’s about all that can be said about it.

So it’s in Toronto, Philadelphia and other urban points, how about Chatham-Kent? Some form of wireless Internet service already serves large parts of Chatham-Kent. It is what it is, but still there are many people who don’t have the technology, many people still behind the digital divide. It’s no longer the information dirt road, but there is a cost for the convenience. Finding a way for everyone to get a board is a continuing challenge.