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A seamlessly connected world will fundamentally change the way we live and work, and also help solve some of the biggest challenges to humanity in the 21st century. Among them, the following five are particularly pressing.
1. Ageing population
The world is facing a rise in the ageing population that puts considerable pressure on the healthcare industry, requiring more autonomous, convenient and cost-efficient care services for the elderly. IoT will help our increasingly digital population to live at home longer, safer and healthier. Personalised digital assistants supporting us in our home routines, sensor-enabled devices monitoring and alerting authorities about our health conditions, nutrition routines and mobility patterns will be the norm in a few years.
2. Climate change
Massive deployment of IoT technologies can assist in dealing with global warming, which is a huge challenge for our planet today. The increasing number of floods, rising sea level and changing weather patterns result in considerable loss of human life. To prevent that, real-time and more accurate environment monitoring powered by the predictive ability of data is needed. That is what new generation IoT – combined with advanced analytics and AI – will offer.
3. Rapid urbanisation
Growing cities pose huge challenges to public transport systems and increased levels of pollution. Sensor-enabled, wirelessly-connected devices can provide better insight into human mobility patterns and air pollution levels, help to predict those and adjust modes of transportation. Thanks to IoT, future public transport systems will transform into more flexible and tailor-made Mobility-as-a-Service concepts. That will help city authorities to reduce gas emissions and make transport services more convenient to citizens.
4. Depletion of energy resources
Increasing the world’s population poses the threat of depleting energy resources. Ranging from smart streetlights to thermostats and other home appliances, IoT technology can help to increase efficiency in energy usage and conserve energy.
5. Food and water shortages
Malnutrition and hunger remain huge global challenges. For example, 60% of the water used for agricultural irrigation today is wasted. IoT can help revolutionise farming and increase availability of fresh drinking water. Think of smart watering systems that sprinkle just enough water in just the right places, and that are able to detect water leaks or pest levels. What about sensors attached to the animals informing farmers about their mobility patterns, bad health conditions?
Ieva Martinkenaite is Vice-President of Telenor Research, Head of Telenor-NTNU AI-Lab and Start IoT.