OTTAWA, April 27, 2004 — For the fourth consecutive year, Canada ranks second behind the United States in the Conference Board’s annual Connectedness Index. But Canada’s traditional advantages in information and communication technologies (ICTs) are shrinking. Canada now shares second place with Sweden and other countries such as Finland, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany are also closing the gap.
“Canada has made a quantum leap into the information economy in the past decade, but simply being well-connected is no longer sufficient to maintain our competitiveness with other leading countries,” said Brian Guthrie, Director, Innovation and Knowledge Management. “The key is to improve applications and content that can drive the use of ICTs. Content producers need to go beyond simply posting information to developing content that fosters transactions, interactions and on-line services to attract and retain users — and ultimately create value for organizations.”
The Index results are published in the Conference Board briefing, Cashing in on Canadian Connectedness: The Move to Demonstrating Value. The Index ranks 10 countries in four subcategories — availability of ICTs, price, reach and use. Canada leads in one subcategory, price, because Canadian charges for Internet access, phone connections, local and long-distance calls are low. In use, Canada has fallen behind the United States, which is ahead in e-business indicators such as Internet purchases and business-to-business e-commerce. The United States also leads in availability of ICTs and Sweden is the new leader in reach indicators.
Canada continues to achieve excellent results in e-government and e-learning services. But there are opportunities for greater connectivity in the health care system. The Canadian health care system leads the United States in using ICTs for internal processes like inventory management, but lags in external communications and transactions with other health institutions such as laboratories and pharmacies.
Canada’s performance on various Internet access indicators has dropped relative to other countries in the Index and a digital divide persists in favour of younger, better-educated and urbanized Canadians. For example, 72 per cent of Canadian communities, mostly in rural and remote regions, do not have access to broadband (high-speed transmission).
The briefing, which is made possible through a partnership with Industry Canada, is publicly available at www.conferenceboard.ca/boardwise.
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