Technology Will Lead to De-Urbanization

Since the industrial revolution, humanity has flocked to the cities, where jobs are plentiful and centralized services make inhabitants' lives easier. However, technology is gradually beginning to reverse this trend. People who have always dreamed of escaping the city for the country life, but who have been held back by a lack of employment opportunities in rural areas, are starting to find that the transition is possible due to recent advances in technology.

Continuing improvements in communications technologies are making physical location less important when it comes to conducting business. Businesses now operate on a global playing field; for example, a head office in New York can easily communicate with employees in remote locations by using online communication solutions. Modern cloud computing platforms allow documents to be hosted in an online workspace, where they can be edited by a team of employees from anywhere in the world. Colleagues can also hold meetings online using web conferencing software. With the demand for this kind of technology growing all the time, online workspaces are likely to become increasingly easy to use and better at encouraging communication and teamwork.

Traditionally, businesses in America and Europe have outsourced work to Asia to save costs. However, a new phrase has emerged in recent years: rural sourcing. Businesses are taking advantage of the lower living costs in small and medium-sized American towns by having staff based in these areas. Rural workers are able to accept lower pay packages than employees based in the city, and overheads are also lower as employees can either work from home or in local offices that are far cheaper to rent than urban office space.

One company that is making a name for itself by facilitating rural sourcing is Rural Sourcing. Businesses can cheaply outsource their IT tasks to Rural Sourcing's team of IT professionals based in the small town of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The company is setting up further small bases of staff in small towns where employment is otherwise hard to come by. The idea is to recruit students graduating from local colleges and universities, stopping the traditional brain drain from rural America to the big cities.

A study by researchers at the University of Kansas shows that de-urbanization is gaining momentum. An analysis of data provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) showed that people are moving from big cities of more than 4 million people to smaller cities with populations of 1 or 2 million. The study, which was published in 2009, looked at data collected during the last decade.

One of the bonuses of living in a city used to be proximity to shops and services. However, now that consumers can buy almost everything they need online and have it delivered to their doors, do they still need to congregate in cities? As improvements in infrastructure make rural living more convenient, people are likely to decide that the benefits of living in the country - clean air, peace and quiet, and wide open spaces - outweigh the attraction of the bright city lights.

Thanks to technology, it will soon be possible to earn a living from anywhere in the world, so long as there is access to the Internet. With information travelling at the speed of light, physical distances shrink into insignificance. As virtual workspaces develop further, a colleague on the opposite side of the country will feel no more distant than the worker in the next cubicle. Combined with the many attractions of rural environments, these technological breakthroughs could soon lead to a mass exodus of people from the world's major cities. De-urbanization looks set to be an important demographic trend in the 21st century.


Guest post contributed by Charles Dearing, on behalf of Whoishostingthis.com - a webmaster tool that lets you discover which web hosting company any site is hosted with. Find out more here.

Reference

Press release about the research carried out at the University of Kansas: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-09/uok-su091609.php

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: the rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less