The world we are living in right now used to be just a dream to our ancestors. Life was simpler back then and there was little to distract you. While life was certainly less complex, it was mighty boring for some too. It’s perhaps also the reason why innovators pushed for the development of newer technologies that won’t just upgrade our lives but also connect us to the rest of the world. Who would’ve thought our most valued possession would eventually be the smartphone. It has served as our gateway to the rest of the world through the Internet. You can do almost everything virtually and in real time. No more is there a distance barrier that can prevent you from exploring opportunities and potential outside of your comfort zone. But also, you may find yourself in trouble.
We truly are living in a globally-interconnected planet. And you don’t have to go far or spend a lot of money in order to do so. No magic needed here either or some really amazing teleportation skills because all you need is your smart gadget and you’re good to go. And as the Internet’s technology progressed, social networking sites were born and made life even more vibrant and alive than before. You can now keep track of the lives of the people who mean the most to you or idols that you follow without going anywhere at all.
There is growing awareness of the importance of internet access to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. But as new players enter the race to connect the 4 billion people who remain offline, new questions are emerging about who is providing that connection and what their agenda is. As China’s interest in global development has grown, so too has its influence in the telecommunications sector, with two companies in particular — the privately owned Huawei and state owned ZTE — making up the majority of China’s efforts to connect the unconnected.
In Kenya, M-KOPA, which is known for its pay-as-you-go home solar energy systems, is now selling Huawei smartphones along with solar panels. Partnerships such as this result from work that Huawei has done to pioneer new models to provide access in rural areas where the business case is not always as clear, said Adam Lane, a senior director of public affairs for Huawei, who spoke with Devex from South Africa, but is mainly focused on Kenya.
The race goes on. Despite the achievements that the Internet has now achieved today, it does not mean that everything stops here. New innovations are still being developed in the hopes of building better machines and truly creating smart cities that we have envisioned in the past. If you are an avid web surfer/user yourself, you’ll notice all those little changes that the web has undergone so far and is still going through as of the moment. Nothing is constant and we can only expect to see bigger and brighter things on the web in the years to come.
He was right. Today, 49% of the world’s population is connected online and an estimated8.4 billion connected things are in use worldwide.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is in full flower. The expanding collection of connected things goes mostly unnoticed by the public – sensors, actuators and other items completing tasks behind the scenes in day-to-day operations of businesses and government, most of them abetted by machine-to-machine “computiction” – that is, artificial-intelligence-enhanced communication. The most public items in the burgeoning IoT are cars, voice-activated assistants, appliances and other home systems, physician-prescribed or recommended health-monitoring devices, road sensors, public-safety and security devices, smart meters and personal fitness and health trackers for people and animals – dogs, cats, horses, cows and more. And then there are emerging IoT products that show how the urge to create connectivity extends to such prosaic items as toothbrushes, dental floss, hairbrushes, pillows, egg trays, wine bottle sleeves, baby monitors and changing tables, silverware, umbrellas, all manner of toys and sporting goods and remote-controlled pet food dispensers, to name a few.
We may enjoy all the perks of modern living and being connected to the globe with just a push of a button but it has its downsides too. Today, we also have to worry about issues like data and cybersecurity now that criminals have found a new and profitable playground. There is a bigger risk involved as the IoT grows and more aspects of our lives are linked to the web. Knowing this reality is a great way to remind you to always exercise caution in all your virtual activities so as not to unnecessarily burden yourself with numerous tech-related problems that are costly and time-consuming to fix, if still salvageable, worse if it is not.