miércoles, 20 de abril de 2016

Data as the financial source for development

On september 2015, the United Nations approved the 2030 Agenda. It is composed of 17 goals that aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Achieving some of the goals by 2030 seems an utopia. I fully aligned with the idea that it would be a too-far-away target unless we inject massively technology in the developing countries. We need technology to scale up the coverage of the basic services as health and education, to monitor the quality of water in an efficient manner, to create sustainable cities or to increase the productivity of manufacturing chains.

The cornerstone of this massive injection of technology is connectivity. On one hand, we need to connect people in order to provide them with the needed access to knowledge. Although 43% of the world population is connected the percentage in the developing world is significantly lower, Internet is present only in around 34% of the households. On the other hand, we will need to connect devices. Internet of the Things is now behind the solutions for improving sanitation or using energy efficiently to name a few.

The question is how to fund the cost of connectivity in the developing world. According with and estimation published by ITU, the cost of connecting the next 1.5 billion would be $450 billion. This means a cost of 300$ per each new connection. Although the cost of connecting devices would be cheaper thanks to the almost universal coverage of 2G (around 95% of the world), the cost of connecting people and devices would be prohibitive for developing countries.

Therefore, we need a self-funding model for achieving worldwide connectivity. Could be data the currency for this massive funding? Billions of IoT devices deploying in one area could provide valuable information for other applications. This is the case of Smart Cities and could be the case of many other  IoT deployments for the control of water, energy or climate. A business model based on the payment of connectivity and IoT devices with the data generated by the devices could be the based for the massive deployment of technology in the developing world.

The virtuous circle of IoT deployments and data could break the vicious circle of no development for the lack of money. Digitalisation could disrupt also development aid schemes.

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