According to the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Unit (ITU) in 2019, only 38% of homes in rural areas had access to the internet. Growers and distributors’ operations are more often located in areas that can be considered rural or remote – frequently meaning that there’s less reliable (if not non-existent) internet connectivity access for workers and local residents.

Limited access to internet speeds comparable to urban spaces have produced a digital divide, with potential approaches to the solution stoking division as well. One way or another, broadband and wireless connectivity infrastructure must be built out for all outside of densely populated regions. In the meantime, there are stopgap measures software developers can implement in their products, like Croptracker’s offline mode for farm management.

Pathways to greater internet access

In the United States, different federal level initiatives have been implemented, through different fund distributions, to try and improve broadband access to underserved areas. At the end of 2020 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) awarded SpaceX (via its Starlink project), Charter Communications, LTD Broadband, and Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium, and other providers a combined $9.2 billion for improvements. The 2019 Farm Bill prioritizes funding for broadband related projects that will offer $350 million for high-speed internet access projects for rural and underserved areas. These include Middle Mile Infrastructure Grants, Loans, and Loan Guarantees; Innovative Broadband Advancement Grants and Loans; and the Community Connect Grant Program.

Though federal funds regularly head to the private sector to enact infrastructural improvements, academics like Harvard Professor Susan Crawford assert that companies like Comcast have no incentive to expand service infrastructure on their own accord, because they’re able to cater to existing networks in urban and affluent regions where markets allow for pricer internet service packages to be tolerated, with less capital expenditures needed to fulfill said services. This can be validated by supporting documentation that indeed CapEx spending for telecommunications has been in decline year over year. There is no shortage of news however, reflecting ongoing political opposition in the US to community-centred broadband, in favor of further empowering telecom giants. In spite of this, many municipalities across the country are moving forward with Fiber cable installation, non-profit models for city-managed service, and hybrid approaches of public and private partnerships.

Croptracker’s Offline Mode for when you need it

Croptracker's offline modules allow growers in areas without adequate connectivity to create records and capture HQV scans. Records are temporarily stored locally within the app, so when the device connects to Wi-Fi, the gathered data uploads to Croptracker’s cloud storage. The benefits of expanding broadband access to growers will be reaped by those in urban areas, too. Increased traceability - from accurate, detailed record-keeping systems and RFID implementation - means better food safety for all, and better post-harvest management means more, higher-quality food ends up on everyone's tables.

We're built on the belief that growers - no matter the size of their operation - should have access to quality software solutions that help them grow more safely, efficiently, and profitably. Designed with fresh market producers and distributors in mind, every tool we create is based on direct industry feedback. We're working hard to ensure that we can help growers reap these same benefits no matter where they live, which is why Offline Mode, launched in 2019, was a priority.

Optimize your harvest season with Croptracker’s customizable solutions. Book a demo to learn more about how Croptracker’s range of farm management tools can help your operation.