Today, you are one of 7 billion people on Earth. Global population is expected to reach 8 billion by 2025, according to the United Nations. It also has many wondering whether the Earth can support so many people. About half were added just in the past 40 years, and 3 billion more are expected by 2100.

Where Western powers ruled the world in 1920, today the West is aging and dying, and much of the world is on fire with anti-white and anti-Western resentment after 500 years of European domination. In 1920, Western people were nearly one-third of mankind. Today, Western man is down to one-sixth of the world's population, shrinking to one-eighth by 2050, and not even one-tenth by century's end.

Global population has swelled in record time since 1987, when it hit 5 billion. At this time, world population is growing at the most rapid pace in history. In 1900, we were at 1.6 billion. In 99 years, we flipped the numbers to 6.1 billion. The world is adding more people in less time but the annual population growth rate is slowing down—from 2.1 percent in the late 1960s to 1.2 percent today—reflecting lower birth rates.

In 1999, when we passed the 6 billion mark, the world economy was in overdrive, In October 2011, we grew to 7 billion, in a recession and an economic atmosphere of pessimism. Recessions and depressions slow population growth, especially in developed nations. Currently, growth is highest in poorest countries where health care advances are keeping people alive longer while birth rates are still relatively high. The result is a yawning age gap. The share of the population 65 and older is at 21 percent in Germany and 23 percent in Japan. In countries such as Gambia and Senegal, only 2 percent are in that age group.

As many more people are added in the next century, more will live in cities. Even in developing nations, a growing share of the population lives in urbanized areas, a shift that is leading to denser living conditions and creating more pressure to reduce energy use and build new infrastructure.

Seven billion people are 7 billion good reasons for sustainable infrastructure development. Only 28.8 percent of the world's population lived in urban areas in 1950. Today, just over 50 percent do, and the United Nations projects that almost 69 percent will by 2050, when the population is expected to reach 9.3 billion. The number of people who live in cities by then will almost equal today's world population.

Global companies can go anywhere. If America is going to compete to attract businesses, they must be able provide the integrated infrastructure to electrify, illuminate, and communicate in a safe and secure green environment. The way cities compete is with infrastructure and a good quality of life. Some experts suggest that cities in developing nations have an edge of sorts because they're building from scratch and can apply the latest green technologies. In developed nations such as the United States, the challenge is to retrofit old buildings, power grids and roads. Thanks to an army of electrical contractors, many are doing it. Today's ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR has evolved into a multi-faceted contractor that can integrate many of the critical systems that automate our world. The technologies that are being implemented by these contractors are amazing. Smart buildings and smart homes deliver more and cost less to operate.

Each month the pages of the ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine are filled with valuable information about the advancements and applications of integrated systems reaching the marketplace. Technology and more powerful networks have increased the rate of advancement in the field of integrated solutions, and the new industry leader in this area of networking systems is the electrical contractor with a wide scope of specialized services. The list of sub-specialties is expanding faster than we can record.

What's next? The general economy may drag on for the next few years, but the technological advancements in the home and the workplace are outpacing many other industry segments. These technologies allow us to do more for less cost. The general demand for the newer and more efficient integrated systems has already begun to show up in the financial reports of the manufacturers and distributors of the products that are utilized in the new integrated systems. Business is looking up for the electrical contractor as many companies are implementing new systems to maintain a competitive edge.

Dave Evans, CISCO's chief futurist talked about the challenges we face, in a recent article.

"Being a futurist is understanding where the world is going so you know how to act now,” Evans said. “To use the hockey metaphor, it’s about knowing where the puck is going to end up before you start skating to it."

The information network is like the nervous system of the body. The challenge is to build integrated systems that use the network to maximize their performance, to make the systems intelligent.

"We are entering a brand new era in so many ways and the journey has only just begun,” Evans said. “The network is the only thing that touches everything. Hardware does not, the operating system does not, the network touches it all. This is the business you want to be in right now. With the move to the cloud, intelligence in the cloud, device proliferation, the way we can communicate, it is going to be an amazing era and we have only just scratched the surface of where it is going. It is going to dwarf the Wild West.

"We are on an exponential growth curve. People intuitively get Moore’s Law, but for some reason, they still think of it in linear terms. Not only are individual elements growing exponentially—computing and storage for example—but the way the inter-connectedness and sharing are growing exponentially.”

As an example, depending on the discipline that you’re in, it’s generally accepted that human knowledge is now doubling every two to three years. If that is a true statement, in 50 years, 95 percent of everything we know will be discovered in those 50 years across all domains.

Another way to look at it is that it means we only know 5 percent today of what we will know in the next 50. You look at research papers and patent applications and you can see a skyrocketing explosion of human knowledge.

“Up until the 1900s, human knowledge doubled every 100 years or so,” Evans said. “Today, it is every five years. That is the type of trajectory that we are on."

The need for speed is an insatiable appetite. We have learned that researchers are already working on multi-terabit per second Ethernet to carry the coming information flow. Some forecasts almost a zettabyte (one billion terabytes) may be flowing across the network by 2015.

Change can be exciting, scary, overwhelming and unbelievable. Rest assured that change is inevitable. Our mission remains to build the integrated infrastructure to electrify, illuminate and communicate in a safe and secure green environment.


BISBEE is with Communication Planning Corp., a telecom and datacom design/build firm. He provides a free monthly summary of industry news on www.wireville.com.