Creeping into the future

Two stories in the Aug. 30 Chronicle call attention to troubling developments in San Francisco’s planning for the future. One is the announcement that Earthlink is backing out of the proposed contract to develop a wireless network that would enable San Franciscans to get on the Internet no matter where they were in the city. The contract has been argued about and delayed by the Board of Supervisors and others who had ideas for “better” solutions. Earthlink’s financial problems sounded the death knell. No matter what the cause, this is a loss for the city. Meanwhile, the Chronicle reports that Japan is providing fast broadband connections throughout the country, providing more data at lower cost than anywhere else. Urban doctors can provide assistance to rural patients through this system which allows medical test results to be sent quickly across the country. It is worth reading about how a combination of government regulation and private enterprise has built this system and made it work. The United States is falling behind not only Japan, but also Europe in technological development. San Francisco is often thought to be a leader among tech age cities, but we had better keep our eyes on what others are doing before we lose our edge and become a backwater.

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