Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Fast internet drives 'Rural Renaissance'.

 In 2003 TUANZ led a National Broadband Applications Project where cross sector forums were set up regionally to discuss the potential of broadband and come up with some scenarios about what life would be like beyond dial-up. This was during the days of the roll out of Project Probe. We are now well onto the second wave of superfast internet with the roll out of fibre, 4 G networks and improved satellite service.
Those scenarios discussed in 2003 forums were published in "Survival of the Fastest"
I love the education scenario of "A Third Way at Blacksmith's Elbow" (Chapter 4) which describes a small rural community connected to broadband:
  • Broadband brings everybody access to whatever resources they need;
  • The community grows, instead of shrinks;
  • People find it easier to be life-long learners;
  • People are collaborate;
  • The school is the hub of the community.
“Rural New Zealand” by Sarah Stewart is licensed under CC BY 2.0

And "A Renaissance in our Heartland" (Chapter 4)
"But perhaps among the most important were social applications. Broadband is ultimately about empowerment and decision-making. It's about access to information. It's about a change in the rural environment. No longer is it just farmers and craftspeople plying their trade in relative isolation. Give them a broadband link and any entrepreneur worth their salt can live and work anywhere. We're already seeing software design becoming a rural industry. With a video-conferencing link, people can have a virtual presence from almost anywhere.
Broadband access means the whole distribution of the population will be different as the city moves to the country. Why? Because they want to, because they can, and all because of broadband.
And if one person moves, it's likely that the family will, too. They will go to the schools, buy from the shops, use the services, and generally contribute to the community. In turn, they will create jobs, opportunities and lead to a rural renaissance."
These future focused scenarios were envisioned 14 years ago. So where are we now? How far down the track are we heading towards scenarios described here? Or are the paths we are walking different than we had earlier imagined and will they lead us to different destinations? 

Adams, G., & Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand. (2003). Survival of the fastest: a guide to how New Zealand can use broadband to lead the world, from the TUANZ National Broadband Applications Project. Auckland, N.Z.: Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand.

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