On the 3rd quarter of 2017, 373 million smartphones were sold worldwide. Let’s face it, the use of new communication technologies (NCT) has never been so preeminent. It is revolutionizing the way we communicate, and the way we make business. But one of the most important impact of those NCT is paradoxically on local communities. Explanations.

Whitewater is a small college town like many others in the state of Wisconsin. It is interesting to note that the presence of nearly 10 000 students has amazingly improve the ability of local people and businesses to adopt the digital era.

NCTs allow information to travel

The first user of NCTs is the university itself. Johann Picot, an international student at UW-Whitewater, realized this months before coming to the US. He prepared his semester by going online to see the university’s website and gather information about classes, housing and campus activities. Like any other business, the university uses its digital reputation to attract students.
The university provide its student with a working platform called Desire 2 Learn (also known as D2L) where student can have access to course contents and upload their assignments. 
However, the university hasn’t gone full digital yet. They still use bulletin boards to display information. A lot of student clubs still use flyers to promote their events. Sometimes old habits die hard.

NCTs bring people together

The International Student Association (ISA) uses What’s App, a messenger app, to bring international students together, provide useful information and organize events on and off campus. According to Johann, being able to communicate before arriving on campus was appreciable. Once he arrived, the experience went on: he was able to meet people and keep in touch thanks to this social network. 

In a way, the geographical area (not to mention the rude weather in winter) forces people to use technology even more to cope with the size of the town, and to stay connected. In UW-Madison, a couple found love thanks to Snapchat, another example of how NCTs bring people together in college towns. 

NCTs are a business requirement

Businesses also use NCT’s to boost their growth. A group of UW-Whitewater's students created Rydepass, a car-sharing app that, according to their slogan "help building communities one ride at a time". In this case, the use of NCT is business related, but also has a social dimension: they offer a way to move around town in a place where there are no public means of transportation, thus preventing drunk driving. Patrice Timchia, CTO of Rydepass, is especially proud of the feature that allow people to order a ride hours before actually using it, which allow them to anticipate. Abdallah Jiffry, CMO of Rydepass, explains that they try to reach students via different social media (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat), uploading informative content regarding their brand, but also events that takes place within the whitewater community. 

It seems that new communication technologies allow a small community like Whitewater to live at the same "level" as any other town. NCTs bring people together, and businesses have acknowledged  it, since they use them to reach their customers. 
Small towns are dead, long live small towns! 

Rydepass - Technology serving students in small communities

Interview Jiffry from Rydepass

 

How international students see NCTs?

 

Slideshow - Discover Whitewater in pictures