LIVE FROM THE FUTURE OF WIRELESS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, CAMBRIDGE: The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to create a sustainable future but only if people remain central to the development of technology, according to Dr Sally Uren (pictured), chief executive of sustainable development organisation Forum for the Future.

Speaking at the Cambridge Wireless-organised event, Uren warned: “The Internet of Things does have the potential to deliver solutions to these challenges but only if we get the user interface right, the last metre,” Uren noted.

Digital technology will be able to create more sustainable economic activity and social development, including businesses changing their operations and products, bringing more of their customer interactions online, and reducing the use of unsustainable resources, Uren explained.

In addition, the availability of open data is allowing people to collaborate to get things done themselves. “Digital technology allows people to help themselves,” Uren noted, citing the phenomenal success of AirBNB as a good example of this.

There is also growing potential for “ultra-transparency” for business activity with the greater amount of real-time information available. “Suddenly the world is more open. Our awareness of the world around us is changing,” Uren said.

But Uren was adamant the involvement of people is critical in having “the proper mix of push and pull” in the development of the Internet of Things and ensuring its benefits are fully realised.

“There are amazing opportunities out there. We just need to influence the system around us if we are to deliver a sustainable future. We have the technology solutions that could solve problems, but we have to get the last metre right,” she noted.