The need to ‘connect’ sits within us all. It’s essential to every aspect of our lives and wellbeing – a vital human, social and economic requirement.
In an ‘always on’ world where instant access and real-time communication are fast becoming the norm, Connectivity can be the difference between fulfilled lives, healthy communities and a successful economy – or not.
So it shouldn’t surprise that Connectivity is one of the four strategic goals of Cardiff Capital Region – and in this latest series, we ask ‘what’s happening?’ to make CCR a place that connects people to opportunities, in a region being reshaped around the vision of cohesive communities and integrated infrastructure.
To begin, let’s look at how the wider world is ‘coming together’ for the better …
Connecting through Digital
To many people, ‘Connectivity’ means ‘Digital’: the incredible way in which the internet can bring people together, transferring ideas and knowledge through gigabytes of data, in an instant.
As the most recent World Bank Report in April 2022 showed, digital connectivity and all that it brings has undoubtedly revolutionised the way most of us communicate and interact, driving social and economic development in many different ways – from improving the productivity of organisations and people, to increasing growth through access to new markets, information, products and services.
Digital technologies such as the Internet, 5G and Artificial Intelligence have accelerated the way industries (and even whole countries) can develop and work with each other – fueling just about any collaboration and innovation that you can think of, now and in the future.
And the connective benefits of digital go much further than just economic development. The pandemic showed how digital can shape new ways of delivering the essentials of life – from food to healthcare – as well as providing a secure ‘channel’ for people to interact.
Indeed, digital’s biggest value may reside in that last point – human interaction. Digital exclusion has rightly been highlighted as a danger to a healthy society and productive economy. But in a digital world where engagement and ‘making the connection’ can be measured, digital connectivity also offers the best hope for an inclusive world that makes sure everyone’s voice is heard and non-one gets left behind.
As we enter this new industrial age, Digital will be absolutely core to the way we live, interact, become skilled, choose to work and get to play.
But the inherent benefits of digital communications, e-commerce and automated efficiency are just part of the story.
The physical infrastructure that brings connectivity to communities, countries and whole continents is just as important, as a driver of prosperity and wellbeing for individuals, enterprises and society at large.
Connecting through Infrastructure
An integrated transport infrastructure, connecting people and places in an affordable and accessible way, is simply essential if communities are to thrive, economies are to grow – and people are to broaden their horizons.
The World Bank notes that an integrated transport system is a key driver of sustainable growth and prosperity in countries as diverse as China and Estonia. It offers passengers the opportunity to use different forms of transport (bus, train, metro) in the most comfortable, reliable, safer and affordable way – bringing both cost and time-efficiency, as well as reducing the carbon footprint for everyone involved.
Once in place, an integrated transport system has been shown to bring immediate benefits – to people, economies and the environment.
More people choose to travel, to meet friends, explore new places and discover new opportunities. More business is done between communities, to the advantage of local economies. And there’s greater access to wider opportunities, opening up eyes and minds about what’s possible in life.
Network integration means that it’s easier for companies to locate to a place that may have been seen previously as remote – bringing a welcome boost to local employment and GVA. Inward investment to that region becomes a much more attractive proposition. And that general raising of physical connectivity creates a competitive advantage that feeds an ongoing confidence: nothing and no one is too far away; making more visions a practical reality, for individuals, communities, businesses and governments.
Connecting through Opportunity
Connecting people with the opportunities to fulfil their potential completes the triple helix of Connectivity.
The digital and physical infrastructure mentioned above makes it more possible to learn skills and find rewarding employment, of course – but this third strand of the connectivity helix is about connecting people to their true life potential.
The CBI in 2022 estimated that skill shortages are costing the UK between £30 billion and £39 billion per annum, but the true cost of unfulfilled potential is immeasurable on a human scale.
Motivating people to pursue their ambitions – unlocking their natural competencies and empowering them to skill and re-skill – brings benefits that are priceless to the individual and community they live in.
Cardiff Capital Region understands this – and is doing a great deal about it. As an investor in world-class digital communications, creator of cutting edge integrated transport infrastructure and connector of people to opportunities, we represent Connectivity in Action – and in our next feature, we’ll be detailing just how these actions are building a South East Wales that’s connected for sustainable success.