Rural Technologies founders have backgrounds in technology and its application to real world problems. This stretches back to the 1980’s and the launch of the analogue and laptop computing. Since then, the world as moved ever faster and become increasingly digital. Now anyone can communicate by voice, text and email from almost anywhere. Or can they?
The Digital Danger
While the human world is caught up in the next digital trend, there are at the same time significant advances in technology, which improve our basic lives. Those improvements raise society’s expectations. Some will significantly change the presumptions of modern living such as transport.
Car ownership has declined in areas that account for 31% of England’s population and particularly amongst the affluent young. But the danger of such changes is that the poorer and non-urban sections of society begin to lose out. If a robust public transport network does not exist and there is no access to a car, how does an individual get to work, study or play?
Already there is the creation of a two-tiered society resulting from strong urban presumptions in digital development. Everywhere is covered in cities and most towns for mobile and broadband services at ever-higher speeds. Yet there are whitespots all over rural areas for these services and some won’t be covered until the mid-2020’s.
The Rural-based Opportunity
Much is talked about Industry4.0 and changes in work-life balance accelerated by Covid, yet what is overlooked is that parts of the countryside are already there. 90% of respondents to a rural household survey already used their broadband for business purposes in 2019. 2020 sent the proportion of use higher but not the numbers using it. 12% of rural populations are employed in manufacturing businesses v 8% of urban. Conceptions of rural economies are entirely false: it is not just food and tourism.
In a net-zero carbon world, a fundamental challenge for the rural economy will be transport. This affects how society works, lives, plays, studies and ages. The digital concept of mobility as a service does not cover rural areas yet underpins future transport use. If transport of people and of goods does not flow then markets cease and just-in-time efficiency practices break down.