By Jori Hamilton
To many of us, the number of incredible advances in technology over the past couple of decades has been incredible. Tech has brought about significant changes in our lives such as greater access to information through the internet, immediate communication through cell phones, and vast safety advances in our homes, cars, and workplaces. Honestly, it is almost impossible to disentangle the many strands of technology in our lives.
One way tech has changed lives is within the hearts of our communities. Believe it or not, tech has played a profound role there as well. In fact, technological advancements can be attributed to greater safety and organization in many locales. Likewise, tech is right at the center of many community revivals that bring and knit together our society.
Making a Community Function
Although many of them go unnoticed, there are plenty of ways technology has touched our communities. For example, many streetlights and other traffic signals are coordinated through advances in tech. Today, sensors at certain stoplights can identify a build-up in traffic and coordinate with other stoplights to help move traffic through an area. These technologies ultimately add up to greater efficiencies throughout cities and reduce pollution created from idling cars stuck in stop-and-go traffic conditions.
Another advancement in technology throughout many towns and cities is changing in security and surveillance. This is especially prevalent in larger cities. One instance of this is the sheer number of police security cameras that exist on street corners. These cameras can be used to passively identify criminal activity happening on the street and bring those who would do wrong to justice. Many police forces are starting to incorporate other bits of technology such as wearable cameras, drone traffic violation recording, and facial recognition technology.
Many enthusiasts see a world where tech can work to make all of our lives better through an interconnected and self-sustaining system that is largely built into the core of our cities and our communities. The idea is ultimately the development of a truly smart city. In the smart cities of the future, not only will tech regulate traffic, but it will also help public servants analyze and understand where there are maintenance needs. Big data will be used to determine where irregularities occur, and crews can be sent out directly to address issues.
Bringing a Community Together
Technology is also playing a huge role in bringing people together within a community. For instance, nearly every community event is now advertised on some form of social media. Technology is a huge component of building community interest and engagement in a particular project. Tech can be used to disseminate information about a project, fundraise, and overcome barriers to community involvement.
Many even believe the technology has helped to address issues of diversity and equal representation. For instance, advances in technology have made it much easier to share news and ideas across communities. Things such as streaming services can allow nearly everyone to access information and entertainment from diverse voices and producers on a variety of topics including issues surrounding diversity itself.
In the daunting past year of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown, technology even helped keep communities together. For instance, face-to-face video services allowed for people to telework, complete online school, attend church services, and even remain in regular contact with friends and neighbors — all without ever leaving home. Many would argue that technology is part of what kept them sane during these trying times, and some community organizations came out stronger and more determined to make an impact than ever before.
It may not always seem like it, but technology is having a real and significant positive impact on our communities. Tech is working to make our neighborhoods safer, greener, and more efficient. But at the same time, it is also helping us stay connected, learn about community projects, and find things to do in our local areas.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in topics related to politics, urban living, society, and health. If you’d like to learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.