Brief substantive summary of the workshop and presentation of the main issues that were raised during the discussions
The Internet of Things is often perceived as the “unseen Internet” yet it is influencing life in ways that we don’t know, and is more relevant than people think. Traffic between machines is consistently growing and SMS traffic between humans is increasing. Cities’ transport systems are connected to technicians and vehicle applications now allow you to control your car with your telephone. What is more, Cloud Computing and recent technologies provide the opportunity for people in emerging economies to leapfrog technological levels and benefit from the most recent technologies available. The sharing, transformative environment that Cloud Computing permits is enhancing connectivity, economic growth and Business opportunity. However, these technologies present regulatory and security challenges, and pose governance, legal and development concerns which need to be addressed.
Workshop speakers examined Cloud Computing and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) technology through an emerging economy user perspective. The session discussed the roles infrastructure, legal barriers, and Governments play in the use of Cloud Computing. Speakers provided case studies of how M2M initiatives can spur economic growth and the fight against poverty. Highlights of their comments include:
Infrastructure plays a central role in connectivity - Almost all of the speakers stressed that a country’s infrastructure plays a crucial role in economic growth and connectivity. Development patterns have highlighted the significant contribution electricity and infrastructure make to the ease of doing business. Connectivity to networks relies on connectivity and electricity; if one is missing the “Internet of Things” will suffer. Dr. Rohan Samarajiva underlined that if businesses have to be online permanently, connectivity is crucial. In remote areas of internet access, or countries where infrastructure is weak, business start-ups can be wary of relying on services that depend on strong connectivity.
Cloud Computing is transforming the path to development and affecting job growth- The workshop demonstrated that Cloud Computing is transforming the path to development. In the past, the economic growth of countries, such as China relied heavily on cheap manufacturing. Simulation in the Cloud may at some point permit fully autonomous factories, resulting in manufacturing moving to wherever it is needed. Rudolph Van Der Berg (OECD) underscored that we “can no longer rely on human input as we have before”. This may lead to a jobless growth in many parts of the world.
Cloud applications are reducing poverty – Verena Weber delved into Cloud initiatives in Colombia which have used M2M and ICTs to reduce poverty and drive economic growth. She described how Cloud applications are informing coffee bean and sugar cane farmers on the best time to collected crops. In addition, these applications are able to share information on weather forecasting to warn farmers of periods of heavy rainfall. These knowledge sharing initiatives are playing significant roles in agricultural growth. “The main public policy question should be how to fight poverty for the next digital strategy?” said Weber. Panellists emphasized that Cloud and M2M initiatives can and should aim to fight poverty and support the growth of small enterprises. Panellists underlined the point that if work is not made on the demand side, the internet will not be used as it should be and economic benefits will be lost.
Social networks users are “leap frogging” technological levels in developing countries - Dr. Rohan Samarajiva introduced findings from the think tank LIRNEasia, which undertook research into Internet use in Asia. Findings showed that people are frequently doing a “leap frog”, meaning that they jump straight to social networks to communicate with friends and family, rather than using the Internet levels in-between. This by-pass of direct Internet use to social networking sites was most prominent in Indonesia where the Government calculated that the country had 37 million internet users, whereas Facebook had found 70 million Facebook users in Indonesia. This demonstrates the accessibility of social networking sites as they do not require high skills sets or fees, but rather personal data and information sharing.
Legal and regulatory barriers present challenges to cloud computing - Panellists highlighted the challenges emerging economies face when using Cloud Computing which derive from legal and regulatory barriers. The patchwork complexity of jurisdictions across the Internet leads to small businesses’ lack of trust in territorial jurisdictions. Dr. Rohan Samarajiva explained that a number of small businesses that are trying to use the Internet as an engine of growth are seriously concerned about how many countries surveillance powers they will be subject to under law.
Cities should be used as laboratories for M2M connectivity - Filipe Araujo explored the plethora of reasons why cities have a unique role in ensuring that the future of our planet is inclusive and sustainable. Araujo urged that innovation and technology should be at citizens and cities service. Technology can develop new solutions and drive efficient and sustainable services, which enable a higher quality of life with an inclusive perspective. Filipe Araujo presented cases from the city of Porto to demonstrate the utility of using cities as inclusive data sources. For example, waste management data collection can provide valuable information to save a lot of money. “Exploring the interconnectivity of a city’s functions will allow governments to manage better resources and avoid inefficiencies”, said Filipe Araujo.
Cloud Computing and Financial savings - The workshop evaluated the ways in which Cloud Computing can lead to financial savings through the reduction of up-front capital moving, and converting the Capex into Openex. This is leading consumers to pay only for what they consume, which minimizes organisational overprovision. This, in turn, assists the business environment by lowering the entry barriers specifically for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Governments must include all stakeholders to advance work on the provision of the ecosystem – Dr. Noha Adly provided some insightful examples of the ways in which governments can secure the provision of the ecosystem and enhance cloud computing. Dr Adly distinguished two aspects of government’s role in the provision of the ecosystem; the strategic and the executive aspect. The Government requires a national strategy with a clear vision, which places cloud computing as a national priority. In addition, the provision of the ecosystem should be led in conjunction with the securing of all items and issues that comes with the ecosystem, including infrastructure, broadband, and governance. Panellists illustrated that Cloud and M2M initiatives can be used as important platforms to communicate with government services. Verena Weber insisted that it is important emerging economies like Colombia develop a digital culture so that every citizen can be connected to internet and understand the benefits of applications.
Adly explained that Egypt’s work with the Cloud has taken many directions. One is to set the strategy, putting the Cloud Computing, cyber security and the broadband as a focus. These plans have been developed into strategic business plans, which have in turn lead to a cycle of assessment, analysis of targets, objectives and milestones, deliverables and budget, and it is into execution. A significant aspect of Egypt’s cloud initiatives is that the government included all stakeholders from the private, public, technical and educational sectors in the activities relating to the Cloud strategy and execution.
Conclusions drawn from the workshop and possible follow up actions
• Governments must take the right measures to make use of the Cloud and M2M data. Technology helps us to define policies on an evidence base, and cities can assist this process in the future.
• Privacy and security should be placed as priorities, as mismanagement of these concerns can cancel out everything that has been done before.
Rudolph Van Der Berg
• Governments should change the regulation that limits ownership of public networks. If they would allow private virtual networks as well, we'd see a massive boost.
• Strong infrastructure will increase the number of people hosting websites in a country. If we do not strengthen infrastructure, the Internet will find another place to go.
Dr. Noha Adly
• Policymakers need to have metrics and criteria in order to create the framework for measuring the impact and the assessment for the Cloud Computing.
• Governments must include all stakeholders in the activities relating to the strategy and execution of Cloud systems.
• We may wish to differentiate types of data that are of particular in importance, in order to design specific solutions for the transfer of each type of data.
• It is important to fight poverty and deploy the technology for the people.
Dr. Rohan Samarajiva
• Emerging economies should improve their infrastructure to support small and medium enterprises that will eventually create the jobs, and enhance economic growth.
• Attention should be paid to how consumers and small businesses actually experience the Internet they purchase.