Canada Continues to be a Global Leader on Connectedness

OTTAWA, August 8, 2002 — More Canadians are browsing, interacting, learning, and buying over the Internet every year, according to the annual Connectedness Index from The Conference Board of Canada.

Canada is a global leader in the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) — second only to the U.S. Four sectors in particular benefit from Canada’s strength in connectedness — health, education and learning, business, and government.

“Canada is clearly connected, for example, we ranked first in the index for on-line banking, government on-line services, and broadband penetration, ” said Brian Guthrie, Director, Innovation and Knowledge Management at the Conference Board. “Each year Canadians are becoming more comfortable with computers, the Internet, and their applications, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Other countries are making connectedness a priority and are progressing quickly.”

People are turning to the Internet for health information and access to health experts — this is one of the most common on-line activities. Meanwhile, 32 per cent of Canadian households use the Internet from home for formal education and learning. Businesses use ICTs to become more productive — taking advantage of technology’s ability to lower transaction costs and increase customer interaction — and the effect has been extraordinary. Statistical data shows that e-business activity is steadily increasing over time.

The report points to three key opportunities for improvement — broadband services, content, and wireless. Focusing on these areas will offer Canada the most opportunity to strengthen its position as a leader in connectedness, and improve its overall socio-economic performance. Broadband — high-speed connections — allows for new applications involving video, sound, and large data files.

Content will become key if the Internet becomes the dominant communications medium — Canadian content will have to compete with foreign content, presenting opportunities and risks.

Improving our wireless performance can boost our overall connectedness by serving areas where it is too expensive to lay wire, cable, or fibre. It also creates opportunities for new products and services — such as permitting an employee in the field to obtain information right away from wherever the job may take them, or a wireless pacemaker that can continually monitor a patient’s vital statistics.

The Conference Board’s Connectedness Index is the third in an annual series that compares Canada with nine other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations — the other G7 countries, plus Australia, Finland, and Sweden — on the availability and use of ICTs.

About the Conference Board of Canada

The Conference Board of Canada is the foremost independent, not-for-profit applied research organization in Canada. We help build leadership capacity for a better Canada by creating and sharing insights on economic trends, public policy issues, and organizational performance. We forge relationships and deliver knowledge through our learning events, networks, research products, and customized information services. Customers include a broad range of Canadian organizations from the public and private sectors. The Conference Board of Canada was formed in 1954, and is affiliated with The Conference Board, Inc. that serves some 3,000 companies in 67 nations.

Every year the Conference Board hosts more than 250 meetings and conferences, holds over 80 leadership programs, publishes 150 research documents and investigates more than 4500 requests for information from members.

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