Week Ending: 8th Jan - A Roundup in I.T. & Tech News

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Welcome to our first round up of 2021 and happy New Year, albeit not the start to the year we all expected. As we all get used to another national lockdown you may have missed the latest developments in the world of Tech and I.T.

From significant increases in technology use, to concerns about advances in AI, we’ll bring you right up to date.

Broadband use doubles in 2020, claims Openreach

2020 was a year we won’t soon forget, filled with changes such as people working remotely, studying from home, limited socialisation, and the year of the ‘bubble’.

Given that we’ve all been limited to what we can do, it is no surprise that broadband use has skyrocketed. Recent figures from Openreach revealed that broadband use in the UK more than doubled during 2020. Rising from 22,000 petabytes (PB) in 2019 to 50,000 PB in 2020.

The daily record for broadband was broken 15 times during the year, with around 9GB per day being used, that is the equivalent of 2-3 HD films being streamed in every house in the country, every day!

Colin Lees, Chief Technology and Information Officer at Openreach commented

“It’s been a year unlike any other and we believe that’s played a major part in this huge jump in data consumption. We know more businesses asked their employees to work from home throughout most of 2020, so connecting remotely has been and continues to be important for everyone. January and February saw data consumption at around 2,700PB per month – before the pandemic brought about a big increase – with most months at more than 4,000PB – for the rest of the year.”

Boxing Day was the busiest day with a record 210PB consumed across Openreach’s network. With many families separated during Christmas many turned to video conferencing programmes such as Zoom or Skype to stay connected.

Read more here.

Smartphone use increases during lockdown

Mobile phones are to some a lifeline during lockdown, a way to communicate with loved ones, find out what is happening in the world or escape through Netflix. The average adult now spends an extra hour a day on their phone or tablet which may not seem much but compared to pre-lockdown it adds up.

Recent research by First Direct revealed that adults will spend 3 hours and 25 minutes using their phone or tablet per day, compared to 2 hours and 27 minutes pre-lockdown, which is a 39% increase.

44% said that they now use technology more than they did in 2019 to stay connected to loved ones, shop online, stream video games or TV shows and manage their finances. This has caused 45% to now view technology in a more positive light, with 55% saying it helped them feel less restricted by lockdowns.

Chris Pitt, Head of First Direct commented

“Since March, we’ve all had to turn to technology more than ever and it’s encouraging to see people are becoming more comfortable with it and more aware of the benefits it can bring. Staying connected while we’ve been kept apart has been a challenge for many of us, but tech has really helped combat this. It has allowed us all to keep in touch with family and friends, but it’s really important to note that almost a third said it’s also helped with their mental health.”

Not only has technology helped people stay connected socially, but it has also allowed remote workers to stay in touch with managers or team members which ultimately helps with moral and mental health.

Discover more here.

AI: ‘Opportunity as well as threat’?

Technology has rapidly advanced, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. With many people working from home, technology and businesses have needed to shift their way of working to benefit everyone. Whether this be using Zoom for conference calls or using AI to keep an eye on the office whilst empty.

Since March 2020, the use of automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) has grown by 30% according to industry body Technology Connected. This has caused some tension with some people feeling that it could become a threat to lower paid staff’s jobs as well as women, young people, and minority groups.

However, Cardiff University professor Phillip Brown has commented that technology must be used to help shape a better future, he said: “We need to really get a better understanding of how technologies can be used in a way which is positive for the workforce”

Automation company, X-STK has offices in Cardiff which offers products and training in the use of ‘cobots’ or collaborative robots. These can be used in many different industries, including pharmaceuticals, automotive and even universities. This development doesn’t mean employees will be replaced but can allow workers to focus on other roles.

Jessica Watts, X-STK comments:

“Output increases, which means higher demand so those people that typically would have been doing the very repetitive, potentially dangerous jobs - you know with RSI (repetitive strain industry) and other things like that - actually, those people go on and be upskilled, and they’ve got more rewarding jobs, and they’re doing things that have got more value”

Explore more here.

Those were some of this week’s biggest stories in I.T. and tech, but if you want more content, follow us across our four social media channels.