The Wonders of 2020

In a year like 2020 it can be easy to miss the wonder in so much around us, including the amazing innovations happening even during the adversity we have faced. However, without the proper public policy much of the advancement would have been slower at least, lost at worst, and would have made 2020 even more challenging than it has been.

In just the last several days news about a vaccine by Pfizer and others should inspire us. This pandemic could, in a matter of a couple months, come to a close, and barely more than a year after this virus was first spread around the world. At the same time expert distribution companies such as UPS and FedEx are preparing for rapid and massive distribution, outfitting their trucks and airplanes to transport a vaccine that requires storage at extremely low temperatures.

Keeping people connected has also been a real challenge this year. As little as a couple years ago people were anticipating the coming of 5G, the next generation of wireless. Now that next generation is the current generation as Gg is being deployed. Speedy wireless access will be everywhere bringing more of everything valued in wireless broadband and enabling new applications such as remote surgery and automated transportation.

Speaking of transportation, connected vehicles should get a boost as FCC Chairman Pai has proposed that the 5.9 spectrum band finally be freed. Spectrum is the invisible band of airwaves, similar to a rainbow’s band of colors if each color was a different frequency, over which communications of all sorts carry bits of information. This proposal immediately makes available a slice of the 5.9 band for indoor wi-fi and also portions off another slice for a more market driven vehicle safety technical standard that already has broad industry support. The FCC would make available more wi-fi and greater safety in the same vote.

Safety has been on the minds of many Americans this year. As part of emergency response in Washington state, low-earth satellites have been deployed particularly to help in areas devasted by earlier forest fires. One company’s plan is to have about 12,000 satellites flying much closer to Earth than traditional broadband satellites, which means faster speeds and better service.

Not many years ago so many were quick to complain that there was not enough competition in internet service provision and broadband. Largely this was a flailing attempt by some to justify a great role for government internet service provision or other areas. They were wrong then and they are still wrong now as the newest technology entrant makes its debut. Yet now the argument continues in a different form, rationalizing big government to go after social media or other innovative industries.

Let’s take a moment to give thanks that we live in a country that has historically allowed innovation to flourish. A society where risk was rewarded, or at least not punished. Where adventure trumped fear. That approach has led to the vast innovation riches we enjoy today.

We must remember what got us here and not act to interrupt success with heavy-handed government machinations but rather allow the market and the people to direct our continuing innovation future.  Breaking up industries, suffocating regulations, and replacing smart market driven risks with government safeguards from mistakes is a one-way ticket to the next pandemic and economic upheaval being markedly worse than what we have confronted in 2020.

In Depth: Innovation

Whether improving processes, creating products or developing new ideas, the application of technology can enable real changes in how state government works, both in quality of services delivered to constituents, cost savings and quality of life. States have the opportunity in our national balance of government power, to address policy…

+ Innovation In Depth