US Senator John Thune spoke this week in Sioux Falls at the South Dakota Technology Showcase.
One of the priority topics was technology in rural South Dakota. He discussed the importance of technology advancements in all parts of the state, not just urban areas.
Thune said healthcare systems in South Dakota are using technology to deliver healthcare services to people who live outside of the metro regions.
“I visited a rural hospital last week and we looked at the technology and what a difference it can make,” said Thune. “And how it can save people from having to drive, particularly seniors, long distances across South Dakota to where they can get treated.”
He said even though clear progress is being made, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
In March, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, a committee which Thune is chairman, passed the MOBILE NOW (Making Opportunities Broadband Investment and Limiting Excessive and Needless Obstacles to Wireless) Act.
Thune said this legislation would help connect all South Dakota, including the rural areas, to internet-broadband by laying the groundwork for a 5G network.
“Expanding wireless broadband so more things in our day-to-day life can become Internet connected would making completing routine tasks easier and more efficient,” explained Thune. “But more importantly, could help save lives too.”
That MOBILE NOW Act is currently awaiting discussion on the US Senate floor.
One challenge with technology is predicting where it goes next.
Currently, there are roughly 16-billion wireless devices being used in the world today. According to Senator Thune, by 2020 analysts are predicting there to be 50-200 billion wireless devices in use.
"So that might be something like your thermostat, your refrigerator, you’ll be able to control your heat from remote locations,” said Thune. “Those are all things that I think are going to amazingly impact peoples lives, and they’re going to have tremendous commercial and industrial impacts for South Dakota that I think will be very beneficial to our economy.”
Thune said he plans to continue his travels around the state to learn how different companies, organizations, and industries are using technology to benefit day-to-day tasks.