Vital services depend on internet
The latest annual publication by BuddeComm titled: Global Digital Economy – E-Government, E-Heath and E-Education provides key global insights and statistics for these increasingly important sectors which are becoming vital in society.
After some five years of public debate on the national broadband network it is heartening to see that more and more people are getting the message that the network means more than just fast internet access. Increasingly key decision-makers in business and government are reaching an understanding of the transformation that is underway in the economy and the importance of developments in e-health, e-government and e-education to society.
Progress in e-education is moving at an enormous pace and already some schools are limiting the number of printed text books – some are going totally e-book. With over a million children now with laptops it is only a matter of time before the education system switches over. The savings in books and other printed material alone will pay for this digital revolution. South Korean schools will be entirely e-book-based by 2015.
Changes in e-health are following the same path, with electronic patient records slowly being introduced and health insurance schemes starting to refund e-health services. This will be a user-driven development as it is more likely that the users will be able to adapt to e-health much faster than the healthcare system can deliver it.
This will clear the way for a whole new e-health industry, worth billions of dollars. One only has to look at some of the e-heath systems linked to the high-end private hospitals in the USA to see what is in store. They use their e-health facilities as a major marketing tool to attract customers, not just to the actual hospital, but to all of the other facilities around it. The add-on revenues are significant.
Many e-government services on offer around the world already provide citizens with relatively sophisticated services and the establishment of a fibre-based broadband network may see governments improve and broaden the range of web services even further. In addition, mobile services are being incorporated in service offerings and cloud computing is becoming integrated. The Internet of Things (IoT) and M2M will also impact upon this sector.
Those who are still talking about broadband as an end in itself; do not understand the situation. Broadband is simply the tool that will further enable and advance the digital economy.
It is also important that governance of the Internet is carefully considered and net neutrality maintained. The debate about the control of the internet is intensifying, with interesting discussions in December 2012 in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) organised by the ITU, which BuddeComm has provided analyses on in this annual publication.
The exciting developments occurring in the video-based and television broadcasting sector as well as tele-presence will also impact upon these important emerging social services. This report aims to capture the key trends occurring in e-health, e-government and e-education on a global level and also provides valuable insights into the regional developments.
In 2012 the Internet Economy was worth around $2.5 trillion across the G-20 economies;
In June 2011 the OECD highlighted that the strength and dynamism of the Internet depends on its ease of access to high speed networks, openness, and on user confidence;
It is becoming recognised that the importance of internet infrastructure goes far beyond trivial entertainment purposes and it is actually a national utility that delivers important social and economic benefits beyond telco profits;
Maintaining net neutrality is important to the progress and innovation of these valuable social services;
The education sector is shaping up as a leader in the rapidly evolving digital society. Large numbers of schools and institutions have embarked on tele-education extensions to their curriculum. Some are perhaps not particularly high-tech but, in general, great beginnings have been made;
E-health and m-health in particular is an example of how broadband is important for social reasons beyond Internet access, especially in the developing markets of the world;
The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region as a whole shows a large variety of e-health initiatives, particularly in the area of long-distance medicine, to promote health care in remote areas;
The Internet holds the potential to bring vast improvements in key areas where Africa lags behind most of the rest of the world: government, health and education;
South Korea has consistently ranked in the top ten of the United Nations Global E-Government Survey;
Access to e-services in the Middle East is improving due to improved broadband access in terms of speeds, cost and availability. Much of the growth in recent years has been underpinned by mobile broadband;
The Australian Government is a leader in strategic trans-sector thinking, linking e-health developments to the National Broadband Network;
European governments have put in place various mechanisms to exploit the region’s fixed-line and mobile broadband infrastructure to enable citizens to interact with a number of government agencies.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
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