Cell phones save lives

CBC Radio OneEarlier this week, I did an interview with Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio One that played Wednesday morning on her Sounds Like Canada programme, on the subject of cell phone towers.

I have written previously of the growing NIMBY sentiment that could impede community economic development. I was surprised that the head of a community business association in Chilliwack, BC has been campaigning against cell phone towers.

Perhaps I would be more sympathetic if her concerns were that cell phone towers are generally inconsistent with aesthetics in a heritage or even residential community. But here she was, the head of her community business association, arguing against any cell phone towers anywhere.

It wasn’t good enough for her that Health Canada is comfortable with its studies – she cited asbestos as a precedent for the government getting it wrong.

I won’t dispute anyone’s right to believe in the potential for still undiscovered environmental impact from anything. For my part, I keep hoping scientists will confirm my belief in the therapeutic value of matjes herring. I was just surprised to see a leader of a business association promoting less advanced community infrastructure, in effect, a return to dark ages.

It isn’t going to happen. Why?

Because cell phones save lives.

That is the sound bite that Canada’s wireless industry needs to be getting out in front of the public, telling stories of mobile 911 calls; families being reassured; helping hands. Four simple words: cell phones save lives.

We want our doctors, our police, our families, our friends to be available when we call. Service providers compete to provide the best quality network – that kind of competition, complemented by frequent co-opetition (such as the Bell/TELUS network sharing), leads to better customer service. That means service providers need places to put base stations.

Still, I sense there is a palpable sentiment building up across the country, concerned about the aesthetics of towers and as yet unsubstantiated environmental health risks associated with wireless waves. With more service providers, more subscribers, more RFID-enabled devices, it is hard to imagine turning back the clock. But, there seems to be an emerging counter-movement, perhaps energized by other environmental sentiments.

That is why the wireless industry needs to get the message out front – cell phones save lives.

Municipalities are in competition with each other for jobs and tourist dollars. Which cities will prove to be the most creative and progressive in mediating concerns, while encouraging placement of wireless infrastructure, thereby improving their own competitive position?

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