West Sussex Broadband – getting better connected

English: Broadwater, Worthing, West Sussex, En...

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Well, you would expect me to support a campaign for improved connectivity, wouldn’t you? If you’re here, then the chances are you feel the same so just hit the link – West Sussex -Better connected – and register. No need to read any further.

But what if you stumbled here, lured by a twitter announcement, or a subscription to the blog, or a search for information about Alex Polizzi’s legs (yes, really)? Read on:

West Sussex is a very rural community, more reliant on personal transport and telecommunications for its business and social activities than urban areas. By 2016, it will have a population of over 800,000, of which most will be in education, employment, delivering or receiving services, making or consuming goods, and taking advantage of the expanding worldwide community of resources available via the internet. Nearly 19,000 will be over 60 years of age – a group that is increasingly using digital media and communications to keep in contact with families living or travelling away from the locality. This development is unlikely to slow down as the Baby Boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – hit retirement and bring their experimental, exploratory, ‘never-say-die’ approach and disposable income into this new phase of their lives.

Businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on internet access for their publicity and service delivery. And that’s not just the small outlets, seeking expanding markets for their local products, it’s much larger concerns such as health Trusts whose re-thinking of care and use of resources is likely to rely on connectivity for their mobile clinicians, and who will be looking to employ assistive technologies in people’s homes to maximise independence and dignity. If you think Twitter is for the facile, chattering masses, take a look at Time to Change (@timetochange), Bowel Cancer UK (@Bowel_Cancer_UK), or Age UK (@age_uk) to see what messages they’re putting out to their followers. Sussex Partnership’s chief executive, Lisa Rodrigues, (@lisasaysthis) tweets regularly on mental health (and Brighton & Hove Albion and sometimes cats!), understanding the importance of conversation and accessibility in today’s service delivery model.

Connectivity will be essential to all of us in the future.

  • Keeping business in contact with customers and resources,
  • Keeping services in touch with their populations and enabling a faster and more targeted delivery,
  • Keeping older people in social contact with friends and family, helping those house bound by caring duties or disabilities to work, have a social outlet, gain qualifications if they want them,
  • Giving us all the opportunity to access world-wide resources for our entertainment, development, and even survival.

As other parts of the UK gear up to faster broadband, downloading films in minutes instead of hours, or zipping along with Skype while playing music and sharing pictures, we will be falling behind if we do not take this step. Remember dial-up? Remember going off to make dinner and eat it while your anti-virus definitions were downloaded? This next upgrade will make today’s speeds look like that other world. Go and register to support better broadband in the interests of health, security, combating of social isolation, business competitiveness, and just plain old getting your shopping delivered.

Need more? Did you know that:

  • Twitter was the key communication method during the Sri Lankan tsunami of 2004, and that you can access bulletins about tsunamis via @tsunamiwatch – a direct feed from the Pacific Coast Tsunami Warning Centre?
  • Over 800 million people use Face Book worldwide?
  • Over 23 million people have accounts in the virtual world, Second Life, and around 43,000 are logged in at any one time? Virtual Ability is a specialist resource in Second Life for people with disabilities.
  • Amazon reports that, for the first time, their sales of eBooks are outstripping sales of print books. Now you can carry your whole library in your hand wherever you go. Just don’t read in the bath, is all.
  • You can watch innovative talks by top scientists, artists, musicians, philosophers via TEDtalks (@tedtalks) as well as loopy videos featuring cats
  • And you can report holes in your road, chase up your MP (Nick Herbert is on Facebook), find out what the heck the police helicopter (@SEASU_copters) is doing hanging over your garden, and send appeasing emoticons 🙂 to your neighbour in advance of grovelling in person about your dog chewing up their fence.

Register. Now. Do it.

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