A decade ago, smart phones brought a whole new meaning to a popular adjective. But ‘smart’ has not stopped there – from smart fridges to smart cars and smart cities, we are living in an ever-smarter world. A world where applications, solutions, products, and increasingly whole industries are making innovative use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve the quality of our lives and the efficiency of our services.
The potential is enormous. In a smart city, for example, everything from transport to urban planning, electricity supply, local government services and the management of resources and infrastructure can be improved through the use of ICTs. As more and more of the world’s population moves to cities, it is essential to make use of smart technologies to encourage sustainable urbanization, protect the environment and manage living spaces, traffic and utilities effectively.
Smart banking – digital financial services – has the potential to use ICTs and mobile technology to reshape financial transactions and processes, provide universal, secure services and bring large numbers of the 2 billion currently unbanked adults into the world economy. Smart connected cars will improve road safety, reduce congestion and emissions, and increase mobility options for the elderly and disabled; smart health solutions can transform healthcare through personalized medicine, and mobile or remote health delivery.
The growing trend to integrate manufacturing with smart technologies promises tailored products to meet individual customer requirements at low cost and in high quality, with huge impact for companies, economies and societies across the globe. This is Industry 4.0, or the 4th Industrial Revolution, demonstrating the enormous transformative potential of smart technologies in all aspects of life.
But reaching that potential involves a range of challenges in the realms of technology, policy, regulation and business.
The new technologies that will power our smart future require international standards in order to provide seamless, interoperable services on a global scale; fair and meaningful allocation of spectrum; and unqualified privacy and security. Standardization, as well as policy initiatives and new regulatory approaches, are essential to address the unique needs of the developing world – to avoid the digital divide deepening into a digital chasm.
ITU Telecom World 2017 will bring together public and private sector leaders from developing and developed markets around the world to exhibit, debate and network on the theme of smart digital transformation, its impact and opportunities – and on many of the challenges outlined above. The event takes place in the pioneering smart city of Busan, a global leader in enhanced technology ecosystems in one of the world’s most technologically-advanced nations, the Republic of Korea.
Busan is an exemplary model of IoT-based public services across a whole swathe of urban infrastructure, from traffic control to environment and safety management, smart transportation to reduction of energy consumption, tourism infrastructure and disaster management. Busan’s smart city experience is a citizen-driven project to improve quality of life for all through IoT technology. As such, there could be nowhere better to host these important discussions on our smart future – and the global opportunities it offers.
Find out more about ITU Telecom World 2017 here.
By: Houlin Zhao
Houlin Zhao (@) was elected 19th Secretary-General of the ITU at the Busan Plenipotentiary Conference in October 2014. He took up his post on 1 January, 2015.Prior to his election, he served two terms of office as ITU Deputy Secretary-General (2007-2014), as well as two terms as elected Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (1999-2006). He is committed to further streamlining ITU’s efficiency, to strengthening its membership base through greater involvement of the academic community and of small- and medium-sized enterprises, and to broadening multistakeholder participation in ITU’s work. He is married with one son and two grandchildren.