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Poor Internet and Ageing Populations: Turn Digital Challenges into Opportunities for Real Connections

Township of Ramara, Ontario

March 16, 2022

Digital platforms are paving a modern path in the construction sector as new generations expect remote access to their information.  

Despite most people enjoying online ways of working, some populations hesitant to part with paper, most notably, those who live in rural areas with poor internet connection and ageing residents. So, what can local governments do?  

  • Look at the big picture 
  • Create a central and accessible location for rural areas 
  • Extend a hand to ageing populations 
  • Unite your community with a community day 
  • Learn from other local governments 

Look at the Big Picture  

Walied Zekry, Chief Building Official for the Township of Ramara, considered Ramara’s potentially digitally adverse population when deciding to go digital.  

“Adopting an e-permitting solution is the best and only way to go,” shared Zekry. “It’s important to reflect on the big picture and look down the road at what will benefit your community the most, and the answer is a digital platform. Even so, we had to consider the members of our community that would be less likely to jump onboard and how we could help them navigate software for their permit and inspection needs.” 

Create a Central Location for Rural Areas  

Like many rural areas, internet connection can be questionable in some spots.  

So, what can local governments do when great service is not guaranteed everywhere? Provide alternative and accessible solutions for permitting processes.  

“We are considering adding a station in the library so those with connectivity issues can use a computer there to access their permit and have expanded hours,” Zekry explained. “The library can serve as a central location for our community so we can serve more people online.”  

Extend a Hand to Ageing Populations 

The township has a diverse population, with hundreds of city-dwellers moving to cottage country in response to the pandemic, as well as a large portion of ageing residents.  

Before adopting Cloudpermit, Ramara used PDFs, Word Documents, and emails to bring some processes online. 

“We’ve always needed to find workarounds for some online processes when a mature member of our community has digital difficulty, such as seeing if they had someone who could help them open a PDF or send an email, or inviting them to the office so we could help them,” revealed Zekry. “Moving all processes online with Cloudpermit will make it easier to offer support to our ageing population when our community needs it.”  

Unite Your Community with a Community Day 

To help Ramara’s community transition to e-permitting, the township’s Building Department wants to hold an educational community day.  

“We want to invite our township to a community day to learn about Cloudpermit together,” Zekry shared. “It’s a chance to bring our township together, answer any questions, and show them how much of a benefit this software will be for them.” 

Learn from Other Local Governments 

Many local governments are using Cloudpermit that can speak to its advantages as its use expands across Ontario. On the other hand, some are still hesitant to switch because of concerns around rural areas or ageing populations.  

“My advice to any local governments that are hesitant to go digital because of poor internet connections or ageing populations in their community is to give alternative means to be online,” revealed Zekry. “Whether that means a kiosk, a computer in the public library, or setting up a community day to ease people into software, there are ways to make the transition to digital platforms appealing, easy, and simple for everyone in your community.” 

Zekry concludes: “Using online software is appealing, easy, and simple with faster and more convenient processes, stronger and easy-to-follow communication among all involved parties, and a complete permit application submission every time. It’s a win-win for everyone to embrace Cloudpermit’s simplicity because simplicity is powerful for every local government and the members of its community.”