January 31 2017
Carrie L. Lukas
Innovation is coming whether we like it or not, as Patrice Onwuka wrote recently. But while change can be scary, and I've written about the struggle to keep technology in its place (not ruling our lives) there is certainly going to be a lot to like from ongoing technological innovation.
Consider some of the findings from this paper from the consulting firm, Deloitte. For example, as this report explains, the growth of wireless technology has the potential to continue to dramatically improve health outcomes, particularly related to emergencies, and deter crime. One study of Salt Lake City's emergency services found that a one-minute decrease in response time reduced mortality by 8 percent. As wireless technologies help better coordinate requests for help with the nearest response team, people are getting the help they need faster—and lives are being saved as a result.
And of course, these technologies are resulting in tremendous cost savings. The use of wireless-enabled smart grids have the potential to save American families hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs, which translates into an economic boom for the economy of an estimated $1.8 trillion per year.
Innovation in transportation has already been life-changing in many urban areas, with new companies like Uber and Lyft cutting costs for riders substantially, making it easier for people to get around and discouraging dangerous behaviors such as drunk driving. And this may just be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The Deloitte paper concludes that wireless powered, self-driving cars could ultimately create $447 billion per year in savings – that means that we will face lower costs for just about all consumer goods. But just as importantly, they will also dramatically reduce emissions (by an estimated 40-90%), reduce traffic, and save thousands of lives each year by taking people off the road.
Mostly, when we think of the upsides of technologies like wireless we think of the phones in our pockets and the pictures we are sharing with friends. But that's really a very small part of what these technologies do: They are also making our lives richer and safer in ways that are easy to miss, but are just as real.