Wireless innovations driving BC economy

By Contributor
January 17th, 2012

We are fortunate in our lifetimes to have seen technology’s amazing ability to “amplify human potential,” as Microsoft founder Bill Gates said so aptly.

In the last century, we saw how the automobile, the airplane, the telephone, and electricity transformed our society.  In the 21st century, the wireless revolution is transforming our economy and quality of life in ways that we never would have thought of a decade ago.  And while every new technology has its detractors, the benefits of wireless communications are having a big positive impact for all of us.

In communities throughout our province, local governments are improving public services and lowering costs through wireless innovations.  Public libraries in communities like Greater Victoria, Kamloops, Merritt and Prince George are offering free wireless access.  Victoria is offering a free wi-fi network in partnership with local businesses.  Communities like Trail, Nelson and Nanaimo offer wireless to citizens at a variety of municipal facilities. Our police, fire and paramedics also rely on wireless as the backbone of our public safety network.

Wireless smart meters will also make vast improvements to how we use precious commodities such as water and electricity.  By providing real-time measurements of the amount of electricity each customer uses, BC Hydro and Fortis will be able to reduce waste and keep rates low. Similarly, wireless water meters are helping a number of BC communities reduce their water use.  Wireless systems can pinpoint electricity outages or water leaks instantaneously – speeding the repair process and saving ratepayers a bundle.  BC Hydro smart meters will help residential and business customers manage their own electricity use better and lower their costs.

Recently there has been a lot of misinformation spread about wireless technology. Claims of adverse health effects from wireless radio-frequency waves have reached bombastic proportion.  It is regrettable that some local politicians pander to this baseless and irresponsible fear-mongering. The medical professionals in charge of our public health – from our local health authorities to our provincial health officer to Health Canada – all firmly attest to the safety of radio-frequency emitted by wireless technology. 

And BC’s wireless industry is a big job creator, employing over 5,000 people.   BC’s information and communications technology industry employs some 66,000 people in over 6,000 businesses.  Our universities and technical schools are producing 1,000 graduates annually, giving our province a deep talent pool for well-paying, home-grown jobs.  That’s the exactly the human potential Bill Gates was talking about.

John Winter is the president of the BC Chamber of Commerce.

Categories: BusinessGeneral

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