The technology powering smart societies

What is a smart society?

“Smart society” is a concept we use to describe a future where people will use technology to solve problems and support better living for everyone. It is not the same for everyone as it depends on the particular needs of each country.

For Germany is based on industrial automation, while in Japan is focused on the integration of the physical and digital space to support an aging society and unlock radical innovation in the Japanese industry.

Singapore is one of the most advanced Smart countries and their vision of the future is “one where people are empowered by technology to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives”.

Why is tech innovation accelerating?

In the past five years, technology innovation has accelerated its pace. Thanks to enablers that produced a decrease in the cost of computing, smart components such as cameras and sensors, and better network, data processing, and storage tools that support collaborative work. This enabled new use cases that just two years ago, required the computing power and resources of a small University.

Today, we are witnessing a progressive democratization of access to advanced technology and knowledge worldwide.

Changes in education and the social fabric have also generated a wave of entrepreneurship that leveraged new open platforms to evolve and iterate on new concepts and improve people’s lives.

“There are really two things that have to occur in order for a new technology to be affordable to the mass market. One is you need economies of scale. The other is you need to iterate on the design. You need to go through a few versions.” – Elon Musk

The new trend of automation

Automation has always been part of our economies. The first revolution was powered by steam power, the second by electricity, the third by computers and the fourth by cyber-physical systems. Industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation.

The name originates from an automation in manufacturing project by the German government launched in 2011. Since then, governments around the world have developed plans to support the advancement of their economies and the transformation of societies.

Powering smart societies

There will be 18 billion connected devices by 2018. Connected devices are items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity.

IoT, (Internet of Things) is the highest growth device category and IDC predicts the machine to machine category will double by 2020.

For example, a new a car in 2017 has an average of 500 chips that store and exchange data and driver-less cars will collect even more data.

These connected Devices are creating 2.5 Quintillion (1018) Bytes of Data Daily, stored safe cloud services in data center farms.

The data is not just collected, but normalized and analyzed by machine learning algorithms that extract valuable, actionable insights, and soon will use artificial intelligence to make better decisions.

How big data is transforming smart cities

The technologies powering Smart Cities revolve around five domains: Transport, Home, Business, Health and Public Sector.

They involve the digitalization of all processes, the ability to collect data from all participants and the analysis and knowledge extraction of this data to generate actionable insights and predictive analytics.

In order to execute successful strategies, it is vital to have in place cybersecurity and data ethics frameworks to guide experimentation in secure and transparent research journeys.

Entrepreneurs and corporations must partner with governments to create sustainable projects that address national challenges, through innovation and technology adoption and drive economic growth through value creation.

Adapting to technological change

While technology and automation are developing at full speed, but we must consider the human factor.

A few months ago I took a domestic flight in Tokyo, Japan, and checked-in by showing my phone to a kiosk and dropping my luggage into an automated drop-in box. It was a powerful reminder how fast technology is transforming our society.

Meri Rosich

Automated flight check-in system in Tokyo.

The whole experience was unusual because of the lack of humans — it felt like a visit to an ATM. People using ATMs for the first time in the 1960s must have felt the same. The first Bancograph was installed in New York in 1961. It was an automated envelope deposit machine and had to be removed after six months due to lack of customer acceptance. It was not until 1967 in London where added features made it convenient by dispensing cash.

The perception of the technological change has always been there, is not new, what is new is the accelerated pace of change and how affects our habits.

How to foster a culture of digital transformation

There are steps you can take to support your team or your organization to succeed in the journey towards innovation.

1. Change mindset

Enabling your organization for transformational initiatives is very important. You can foster it by educating the teams about the positive effects of innovation with clear examples and case studies on how other organizations have successfully integrated new technologies in their processes.

2. Co-creation

Partner with experts to collaborate and develop solutions that are outside of your core capabilities. Finding talent in new areas is always a challenge, try to create a learning mindset by bringing educational opportunities for the team to grow and develop.

3. Experimentation

Enable your teams to learn by experimenting, by giving them space and time required to grow and test solutions as well as a culture where failure is part of the process.

Technology is there to support the creation of a better society for all, and we have the power to make it happen, a future where people are empowered by technology to lead meaningful and fulfilled lives.

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