GP The Panel 8: Guernsey and Modern Technology

Opinion: what opportunities exist for Guernsey to use modern technology?

2019-03-19 23:43:35
This piece first appeared in the Guernsey Press on 19th March, 2019.

Q: How can Guernsey make better use of modern technology?

Innovation is not the exclusive preserve of technology startups - all it requires is an idea (or problem to solve) and a bit of effort. Primary industries, such as finance, retail or tourism and secondary industries, such as estate agency, recruitment or marketing, can benefit from innovation. 

For example, the new electronic price tags in the Co-Op in St Martins are a good example of an innovation that could, in theory at least, allow them to have dynamic, demand-led pricing as well as improved stock monitoring.

If Guernsey is destined to become the 'innovation island’ of its ambitions, though, it stands to reason that some industries should be leading the way in both the private and public sectors. Like it or not, adoption of new technology in the other island is considerably more advanced. Government there have, for example, embraced IoT to deliver projects such as real-time bus tracking, car park monitoring and air quality monitoring and are rolling out more and more online services, which are not only of meaningful value to the community but have become part and parcel of the sales pitch of the island as a destination.

Guernsey could do more to embrace this. For example, the ‘please don’t sell your car here’ car park signs could be replaced by cheap IoT cameras and some image processing. Machine intelligence could be applied to traffic control to dynamically help with rush-hour congestion and the approach to road closures. The new electronic contracts legislation could be tested by enabling online trading of vehicle number plates.

The States have excellent infrastructure available through the Digital Greenhouse and the Guernsey Innovation Fund to stimulate innovation but has had only limited success to date, due mostly, it would seem, to having unrealistic expectations. 

To lead the way, the States must become more entrepreneurial in its approach to innovation and accept that the chance of success comes bundled with a risk of a failure. In other words, and to quote a famous Guernesiais saying: Bonnet de douche (Rodney.)