A report from ITU and Cisco said the Internet of Things (IoT) can “improve the lives of millions and dramatically accelerate progress towards the UN’s sustainable development goals” such as those around healthcare and education.
Launched at the Pacific Telecommunications Council annual meeting in Hawaii, the report, titled ‘Harnessing the Internet of Things for global development,’ notes that there are three “prime drivers that, if supported, could create an ‘IoT revolution’ in the developing world”.
Firstly, IoT devices are already common, cheap and easy replaceable in developing markets. Basic infrastructure to support IoT, such as Wi-Fi and internet cafes, is already in place, with near-ubiquitous basic mobile connectivity.
According to ITU’s latest figures, there is 95 per cent global 2G coverage, and growing levels of 3G coverage.
What’s more, IoT devices are being used in rugged, remote and inhospitable environments and many can withstand extreme conditions.
Secondly, IoT R&D costs are absorbed by strong demand in developed world markets, and there is little cost associated with tweaking them for the developing world.
Lastly, IoT devices offer simple ‘plug & play’ functionality that doesn’t require special skills, while power supplies such as solar can maintain sensors and networks where there is no consistent electricity supply.
The study recommends that governments and businesses support tech start-ups, ICT incubators and local data centres, and work to develop policies and regulatory frameworks that will create “an enabling environment for IoT deployment”.
ITU sees M2M communications over mobile cellular networks as the fastest-growing ICT service in terms of traffic and estimates that over one billion wireless IoT devices were shipped in 2015, up 60 per cent from 2014 to reach a predicted installed base of 2.8 billion.
Earlier this week, Sigfox launched the Sigfox Foundation, which aims to bring the benefits of the IoT to “nonprofit, humanitarian causes around the world”.