Offline connections still needed in a digital world


People looking at their mobile phones.
People looking at their mobile phones.PHOTO: ST FILE

Despite the pervasive use of digital devices, from smartphones to tablets, there doesn't seem to be a proportionate decrease in the activities that can be done without the Internet.

In fact, the current trend is towards greater mobility in an increasingly digitalised world.

But why do we need to travel so much in this age of advancing information communication technology?

Surely, many things can be done without physically going anywhere. These include:

- Working in offices and other workplaces. Some of the work can be done from home or anywhere with wireless Internet connection;

- Participating in meetings, forums, conferences and other events. These can be done remotely with a computer-webcam setup;

- Attending school and other learning places. E-learning is available online 24/7;

- Visiting family, friends and business associates. We can Skype to stay in touch;

- Eating in food outlets. We can order food and have it delivered to our home or office;

- Buying things in shops, supermarkets and other retail outlets. Online shopping is easy and convenient;

- Visiting the library to read or borrow books. This can be done online;

- Watching movies in cinemas. Pay-per-view or pay-by-subscription videos are available online; and

- Visiting local and overseas tourist attractions. We can experience places with a virtual reality headset.

The answer is simple.

We live in a real world, where we need to interact with real people, and where our five senses are fundamental to our being and sense of well-being.

It is no wonder the Land Transport Authority announced plans to improve public land transport infrastructure and services (LTA issues grant calls for transport studies; Jan 4).

Nevertheless, the Government could also strive to reduce the demand for public transport services.

This can be done by facilitating or supporting the development (by technology enterprises) and adoption (by commuters) of technology solutions that provide alternative ways to work, learn, socialise, shop and take part in leisure activities, as an integral part of the Smart Nation vision.

Joachim Sim