What will next decade hold for us?

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Ten years ago, who could have predicted that Janesville’s beloved Bessie the Cow would have a new home overlooking a roundabout?


Or that Italian House would have a drive-thru?

Holy mackerel!

If we can be certain of anything, it’s that the world around us will keep changing.

The Gazette talked to local professionals about changes they expect in their industries in the next decade. Not surprisingly, many of their answers overlapped.

Here’s what some had to say:

Gazette: What will be the biggest change in information delivery in the next decade?
Mary Buelow, head of reference and adult services at Hedberg Library

The ways we get information will continue to diversify, Buelow said.

“Fifteen years ago, we had print and some computers. Now we still have print, and I don’t see that going away, but we have much more use of audio, podcasts, videocasts and social media. There are a lot more ways for people to get information out there … I think there’s going to be more and more stuff out there.”

Gazette: What will be the biggest change to law enforcement in the next decade?
Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore

Technology will continue to both help and hinder police on a global and local scale, Moore said.

Technology such as DNA identification, computer investigations, cell phone tracking, GPS and surveillance equipment will help police. Conversely, technology allows for crimes against children, identity theft, embezzlement, terrorism and fraud via computers, Moore said.

“Years ago, our crimes typically were committed by people within our own community,” Moore said. “That’s simply not the case anymore.”

The Janesville Police Department will focus on neighborhood safety in the first part of the next decade, Moore said.

“We are in some tough economic times. But, in time, businesses will come here. They’ll come here because we have a good workforce and a beautiful city. Another piece will be having a safe community. Much of that responsibility lies on the police department. We feel much of this community will be judged on our Look West and Fourth Ward neighborhoods. One doesn’t have to look far to find drug deals and drive-by shootings. We will not allow that to happen in this community.”

Gazette: What will be the biggest change in technology in the next 10 years?
Janesville resident Larry Smith, who has a certification in certified information systems security

Business writing and document availability will continue to change as it has in decades past, Smith said.

Twenty-five years ago, students learned how to type on typewriters. A certain number of mistakes were allowed in a business document, Smith said.

In the 1990s, errors were no longer tolerated, and documents had to be aesthetically pleasing, he said.

“Fast forward again 10 years, we’re dealing in 2005 with people expecting online content. They are expecting to be able to get on the Internet and get their documents and to be able to interact with a business.”

Businesses must be ready to provide information to customers who want access from personal devices anytime and from anywhere, Smith said.

“We will definitely see much more of that in the next 10 years: more people having smart phones and interacting with corporations—and with their friends—at all sorts of times during the day.”

People who haven’t gotten online will find themselves left behind, Smith said. They will be dependant on others to find information for them, just like in generations past when people without driver’s licenses were dependant on others to drive them, Smith said.

More municipalities will switch to providing more information online, he said.

As people become more accustomed to searching online for information, they must keep security in mind, he said. In the past, online security meant businesses spent money in-house to protect clients’ information, Smith said.

Now, finding personal information about people can be as easy as a five-minute search on social-networking sites.

“People’s attitudes, just in my opinion, need to catch up with the technology. They need to remember they are broadcasting to the world.”

Gazette: What will be the biggest change in environmental protection in the next decade?
Julie Backenkeller, member of Janesville’s sustainability committee and environmental advocate

Backenkeller recently was motivated to become more self-sufficient in home-energy use when her family went without power for more than 24 hours after a December storm.

“I don’t think there’s any one area of energy that’s going to be dominant,” Backenkeller said. “I think that the reduction of energy use is a huge one for individuals.”

Backenkeller said the preservation of farmland and the monitoring of chemical emissions will continue to be two points of focus for environmental advocates.

Gazette: What will be the biggest change in production agriculture in the next decade?
Randy Thompson, UW Extension dairy and livestock agent

Although Thompson hates to say it, the number of production farms in Rock County and southern Wisconsin will continue to dwindle. Farms will get larger and farther between, he said.

“Agriculture has gone as so many segments of the economy have gone. When I was growing up, you saw a grocery or clothing store downtown. Now, it’s all big box stores. The investment in production agriculture is great, and margins are relatively small. You have to make up the difference in volume.”

However, Thompson doesn’t see the small, single-family farm going away.

“We have seen a trend of grow-your-own, smaller operations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that continue.”

Thompson also thinks producers will continue to work to be more environmentally friendly and that land use will become more thoughtful in the next decade.

Last updated: 12:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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