FEE-FI-FO-FUMSunday, September 19, 2021
Andrew Wheatley and Errol Morrison
Wireless broadband is like a roadway which carries radio signals. The connection of the signal from receiver point to receiver point constitutes the Internet. This Internet is used most commonly for e-mail, watching online videos, using social networks and for shopping, banking, making reservations and telephony.
It is the modern day basis for societal living.
After that definition, what does wireless broadband and the Internet really mean to you and how have we been living with it. Better yet, what does connectivity mean to you?
Today it seems almost impossible to live without your TV, mobile phone, computer or any device that enables connectivity.
Yesterday we couldn't live without the car, landline phone, radio, and our secretary/assistant
The day before that we were obsessed with getting to work, school, enjoying holidays by the beach or in the country, going shopping…and more.
Back to now; and all of the above can be achieved by the electronic connectivity called Internet which is facilitated by wireless technology. And wireless technology is made possible by the transistor, the greatest invention in our lifetime.
Indeed, the Internet and wireless broadband access are considered highly important to us today and completely essential to our day to day living.
We just can't take a break from our obsession with access to the online world, whether it be for social contact (from a safe distance), to check our e-mails, to Google information on anything and everything, or for the up to date world news as it happens.
Wireless broadband has changed our changing world
An octogenarian reflects on how he used the slate at primary school then he moved on to lead pencil and exercise books. For him in those days 'online' meant to write on the single-lined paper, having graduated from the double-lined paper which kept your penmanship in check. Today, he says, “these children not only can't write, it looks like they don't need to. With the computer in front of them all they do is type and not even in proper English. They use all kinds of shortcut spellings which is far short of the official international English language which they'll need to get ahead!”
Despite the fact that many of us experienced life before wireless broadband, it has become virtually impossible to imagine our personal and working lives without it. Being connected to the Internet means we can achieve things far quicker and more efficiently than in the past:
Mail: Handwritten letters sent via post have been overtaken by e-mails and texts.
Banking: Lengthy lines in the bank are replaced by online banking.
Library: Trips to the library have been replaced by now instant book. downloads onto a Kindle or iPad. Information can now be accessed via search engines such as Google and Yahoo!.
Shopping: Online stores are more convenient and online payments have been made easy.
Communicating: One of the more notable changes of the post-Internet era is the way people choose to communicate with one another. Those with access to an Internet connection were able to instantly chat or e-mail their family, friends across the globe. International friendships were far easier, online dating is now possible, and people were able to create their own personalised websites to reflect their interests. Notably, many meet their life partners via the Internet.
Data: The Internet also began to function as a historic database, storing mind-boggling amounts of publicly accessible data. This is proving invaluable in crime fighting as Internet connectivity has increased immediate access to camera footage, police records, etc. Police can now use their mobile devices to instantly track criminal records and view sensor networks capable of picking up the location of perpetrators. More recently in some jurisdictions, law enforcement is using aerial drones, microcomputers, and biometric technology.
Wireless broadband and the Internet everywhere
Once the world got a taste of the Internet, there was no slowing down. As more and more people came online, the demand for easier access and an improved service increased and it is now in homes, workplaces, and the public can be facilitated by installation of wireless broadband 'hot spots' or boosters.
Making a better society
As wireless broadband technology continues to develop, the potential to improve ourselves and our society steadily increases.
Social media is also playing a vital role in crime reduction and the improvement of emergency services: police are using social media to engage and inform the public on various issues. With many Jamaicans on social accounts with presumably hundreds of friends/followers/connections social media ( Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) has begun to function as an emergency outlet to inform, alert and seek help.
Health care anywhere, anytime is now available through telemedicine. Local surveys in Kingston and Trelawny reveal that over 90 per cent of persons suffering from non-communicable diseases prefer this mode of care when possible, as they all have smartphones and the telemedicine visit is less costly with reduced waiting times and the long lines for service especially in the public health facilities. The health care delivery team is also very supportive of shifting delivery of care in favour of these distance Internet enabled modalities.
According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, USA, there is already a variety of applications that use and rely on Wi-Fi in the health-care industry, including infusion pumps, oxygen monitoring devices, and smart beds, alongside access to electronic medical records (EMRs) and real-time access to X-rays and MRI scans. They also stated that medical telepresence delivered via Wi-Fi helps scale provision of high-quality health care to remote and underserved areas. With real-time location services, health-care establishments can also monitor the position of staff and the use of resources around a hospital building in order to improve efficiency.
In addition to individual industries, whole cities are now becoming connected. The benefit of creating a wireless broadband solution for an entire geographic location is an attractive proposition for both city managers and citizens. Smart cities that incorporate digital technologies to generate huge amounts of data can use this information to improve various industries and services within the city such as retail, public transport, facilities, airports, hospitals, schools, advertising, and more.
There's no doubt that wireless broadband has changed the world and we must change with it.
The possibilities are truly endless!
Prof Morrison is a consultant physician and a biomedical researcher.
Dr Wheatley is a Member of Parliament, biochemical researcher, and chairman – JSC Committee of Parliament reviewing proposals to establish Portmore as Jamaica's 15th parish