The pandemic has been a technology accelerator
This time last year, most of us were hunkered down in our homes under stay-in-place restrictions. Little did we know it would become a global pandemic that would bring about broad-sweeping change in so many facets of life — technology included. The pandemic has been a technology accelerator for businesses, municipalities, schools, healthcare and homes. As such, those who provide internet, telephone, security and video services to thousands of Arizona small and regional businesses and more than three million connectivity products within homes across the state have seen a few interesting technology trends that we believe will continue through the rest of 2021. It feels good to be cautiously emerging from the pandemic, and the technology trends that have come to the forefront will continue throughout 2021 — and long after as well.
Provider Adoption and Investment in Telehealth Grows
Finding ways to connect virtually with one’s doctor is getting easier, too. According to a Cox Business survey, only 28% of respondents said that their healthcare service provider offered telehealth before COVID-19. Providers, too, gave telehealth a thumbs up, with 57% viewing it more favorably than before the pandemic and 64% feeling more comfortable using the technology.
Smart Communities Keep Getting Smarter
Smart communities are increasingly becoming a priority nationwide and worldwide. The pandemic has accelerated smart city tech, and citizens are more open to smart community tech than ever. Going smart enables municipalities to make more effective data-driven decisions, decreases inefficiencies and streamlines and automates processes. It also enhances citizen and government engagement, improves infrastructure and provides new economic development opportunities. And the trend toward just-about-everything-smart is taking place inside the home as well. According to Statista, North America in 2023 is expected to have 40% of the worldwide market of consumer spending on smart home systems like smart assistants, smart speakers and smart door locks and light switches.
The Cloud Moves Closer to the Edge
Greater demands on bandwidth and latency issues have placed a greater spotlight on edge computing. Analysts last year forecasted that edge computing would experience significant growth, especially since cloud vendors deployed more edge servers in local markets while telecom providers moved forward with 5G deployments. Before COVID-19, Forrester predicted that the edge cloud service market would increase by a minimum of 50%. Worldwide IT predictions for this year include that the pandemic’s impact on workforce and operational practices will be the driving force behind most edge-driven investments and business model changes — well beyond 2021.
School and Work Will Continue to be Different
Work and school are back in different forms, making broadband connectivity essential. Many employees who were forced to work from home this past year may continue to do so permanently. Although working from home might have had a rocky start, employees have mastered using real-time chat and video conferencing to stay connected. Whether teaching or learning from home or in the classroom, data-driven insights improve the classroom experience. Apps empower teachers to digitally administer homework, quizzes and tests and have one-on-one face time with students and parents. And through artificial intelligence and machine learning, automated technology allows teachers to monitor and evaluate the progress students are making and better understand their strengths and weaknesses.
More Content Means More Bandwidth and Navigation Help
The entire world has been streaming more than ever. Internet service providers like Cox have experienced the equivalent of two years of traffic growth in the first few months of the pandemic and it has remained constant at those new levels. And high-intensity applications, aka “bandwidth hogs” like video streaming platforms that make online work and school possible, are essential yet difficult to attain without the appropriate bandwidth. Therefore, ISPs have answered this increasingly streaming boom by offering affordable internet packages that take care of all streaming needs — voice, video or otherwise.
Visit www.aztechcouncil.org/tech-events to view all of the Council’s upcoming virtual tech networking opportunities, engaging virtual tech events and in-person tech events.