Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development

This information is presented to allow clients to determine if the publication’s content is relevant, Halberd Bastion advocates reading the 61-page report in its entirety.  International Telecommunication Union’s Report Can Be Downloaded Here.

The International Telecommunication Union (www.itu.int) is a special agency of the United Nations whose primary responsibilities lie with issues pertaining to information and communication technologies.  Perhaps the ITU’s biggest accomplishments involving wireless technology is facilitating the development and coordination of global technical standards, coordinating shared global use of radio spectrum and advocating the advancement of telecommunication infrastructure in developing nations.  Together with Cisco the ITU published this report as a contribution to the ITU/UNESCO Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development.

This report focusses on the current and future potential use of The Internet of Things to address development challenges and solve some of the globe’s other pressing issues.  Specific examples are presented demonstrating how IoT is already contributing positively.  Conclusions are drawn on what is required for the IoT to affect billions of people living in developing nations and how income growth and social development could be accelerated as a result.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) including mobile phones, internet usage and Big Data analytics are persistently used in global development projects to deliver services and improve outcomes.  For example, in May 2015 there was in excess of 140 mobile phone-enabled healthcare projects in developing nations.  The next frontier in ICT for developing nations is connecting sensors / M2M connectivity.

From a connectivity perspective IoT is closely related to Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) while the content outcomes are similar to Big Data.  Better information in real-time and improved learning opportunities promise to change the way we do things.  The key is machine produced data and the communication of that data through connected technology.

The IoT is driving improvements in human wellbeing through healthcare, water, agriculture, natural resource management, resiliency to climate change and energy (corroborated by the UN’s post-2015 sustainable development agenda).

IoT applications must be made to suit a particular context while making technological compromises regarding: performance, efficiency, reliability, robustness, flexibility, range, power requirements, data throughput, cost (sensors, connectivity modules and service) and licensed verses unlicensed spectrum.  A large scale system for example will require very high reliability levels.

Maximising the benefits of IoT will require coordinated regulation across all sectors in areas of licensing, spectrum management, standards, competition, security and privacy.  Laws and regulations on data will need to be reconsidered in the light of IoT.

The IoT represents a promising opportunity and given the pervasiveness of its impact it is vital that nations introduce policy frameworks that take into account all the various factors and implications of IoT across different sectors.