MILLENNIALS are the natives of the digital infrastructure. They have the privilege of having been born in a time when everything is within reach through the click of a button. Having worked in Dubai in the 1970s, I learned that there are three kinds of infrastructure: progressive, hard, and soft. Progressive infrastructure refers to the international airports and the seaports. The hard infrastructure are the roads, highways and the like. Lastly, the soft infrastructure refers to the ease of doing business. Back in the day, the Sheikh of Dubai would mention, what is good for business is good for Dubai. Later, I added two more; these are sustainable and institutional infrastructure. Even if you have the best plans in the world, without the right institutions to implement these, these plans would not come to fruition. Lastly, infrastructure should be sustainable in order to last for generations. With the advancement of technology, this is the Age of Digital Infrastructure.
With the rapid technology development, the digital infrastructure has turned from a luxury into a necessity. The digital infrastructure has contributed greatly towards today’s globalization—people are able to conveniently obtain data from far-off places in a matter of minutes. Significant news and happenings are being broadcast through the entire globe as they happen. It has also provided humankind with great comfort and convenience, allowing people of different abilities to be able to contribute as well. The technology advancement has also contributed in prolonging humankind’s life. Digital technology has helped people monitor their health better. World-class hospitals have successfully integrated digital technology into their daily hospital operations, providing better services for the patients.
Social media has also taken flight – more than 100 hours of videos are uploaded in YouTube per minute; there are over 500 million tweets a day in Twitter, and there are over 150 billion friend connections made through Facebook. Many businesses have already taken advantage of this ability to reach out and advertise to such a vast amount of people. This also opened a new business field—selling online services and products. For businesses now, if you are not in the digital age, you are out of the game. Digital infrastructure has not only helped businesses market themselves to all, but it has also helped them efficiently monitor their employees, inventories, and sales. With the aid of technology, profits, risks and losses can be easily projected, helping businessmen with decision-making.
Similarly, this digital infrastructure has paved way for international collaborations. National projects may now be done by a team of international individuals working in their own countries, allowing for greater synergy of thoughts and an exchange of cultures. Data are being transferred via cloud storage; the team can access these data no matter where they are. In our office, projects and reference materials are stored in a database so our offices in Cebu and Davao can access these data as well, allowing for easier exchange of information across the country. With cloud storage as well, projects can be readily produced, archived, and retrieved, allowing our teams more time for enhancing the projects, providing better output for our clients. Our office has been moving towards digital database so our administration can better monitor our employees’ performance, and our employees can easily do transactions. This also allows for less use of paper, which is more environment-friendly. Our library also makes use of the digital infrastructure through creating a portal to easily find and retrieve reference materials.
Likewise, other businesses, and even government agencies, have started to create their database. This would better provide private stakeholders the information they would need about the area, allowing for more investments. Storing information on a cloud database would likewise help the local government handle their data and monitor their different offices easily and efficiently. Most importantly, the presence of online payment systems could hinder corrupt practices.
With artificial intelligence (AI), approximately 50 percent of the present jobs will be lost and replaced. New skillsets will be needed to cope with the advancing digital infrastructure. Take the supermarkets in Canada for example; cashiers are all operated by machines. Even the toll and parking are all automatic. In the near future, most of the cars would be self-driven as well.
To be globally competitive, the Philippines has a lot of catching up to do in terms of digital infrastructure, starting with faster and more affordable internet connection. Accessibility of information and communication technology (ICT) throughout the country should also be looked into. A strong digital infrastructure paves the way for the creation of truly ‘smart’ cities in the Philippines – cities that are better connected, efficient, and integrating technology and innovation. Imagine being able to measure the performance of our cities towards smart mobility, smart environment, smart economy, smart governance, smart living and smart people.