Fairfax Tech Talk Column

Fairfax Tech Talk Column

22.5.2020 Fairfax Tech Talk Column 199


It may seem like quite an easy feat in our current environment but way back in 2006 I had an interesting request from a friend. His elderly father had passed away and their family was spread far and wide around the globe. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t possible for one particular sibling to make it home from overseas. The friend asked me to setup a live stream of the service. It wasn’t called a live stream back then but the concept was the same. I somehow felt slightly awkward sitting at the front of the church configuring my technology to achieve the desired outcome with the ancient technology solutions available at the time – but the family appreciated the inclusion of their sibling from afar.

Fast forward to 2020 and the technology has improved dramatically. For a start, the term live streaming is understood by…well…everybody. The ability to deliver high upload speeds with the consistency required to send video has also improved. The camera quality has improved as well and there are now a plethora of devices with high quality cameras and connectivity.

With the technological advances there was one thing that didn’t change. The awkward feeling at a funeral if someone setup some technology that live streamed a service.

Until COVID-19 came along.

When our Government limited the number of mourners to just ten, funeral directors had a different playing field. As much as I don’t want to think too much about my funeral for many years, I certainly hope that I have more than ten people at my funeral.

Many funeral directors across the nation are now offering the ability to live stream a funeral. The initial feedback from funeral homes is that families are initially not sure about the concept. Some families are not sure it is showing the right amount of respect for the deceased – but they are taking a leap of faith with such tight restrictions in place.

With some funeral homes seeing over 250 people attend a funeral in a virtual sense, friends and family are obviously feeling comfortable with the concept. Funeral homes have been aware of the ability to provide this service but, until COVID-19, were conscious that it might not be received that well by families. The feeling so far is that, even after restrictions are lifted, this will now be a standard service that many funeral directors will offer to their clients.

How times change.

It made me start thinking about some other potential positives from this current pandemic. We have been discussing and talking about and postulating on remote work for many years. The technology was definitely there – but the will wasn’t. Suddenly we have had people embracing the concept of sitting in their business shirt and board shorts and enjoying the serenity of their homes in a relaxed manner after not having endured the commute to work. Maybe this commute from the bedroom to the office will take off? Not only does it have the potential to increase productivity but the lowered pollution has been noticeable.

Educational opportunities have also been conspicuously increased. With school and university students adapting to remote learning as quickly as educational institutions have had to change their practices, it suddenly opens up education for people regardless of location. Sure, there are still some limitations to work through. Certain courses that involve a practical component – such as medicine and engineering – present harder challenges but the speed with which we have adapted to our new environment gives me an incredible feeling of hope.

Tell me how many people you would like to attend your funeral at ask@techtalk.digital.

Mathew Dickerson