Spurred by continued technological advancement, the world today is more connected than ever. This presents a tremendous opportunity to build a more sustainable and prosperous future for all, but it also introduces new risks and governance challenges.
A new report by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Global Internet of Things Council and PwC gives insight into the state of the Internet of Things (IoT). In it, the State of the Connected World reflects on the way connected devices are transforming how we live and work.
With the events of 2020 creating greater urgency around the need for collective action when it comes to themes related to privacy, security and equitable access, the report aims to address governance gaps — pre-pandemic and beyond — facing IoT development.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the essential role the internet of things (IoT) has come to play in our lives. IoT applications such as connected thermal cameras, contact tracing devices and health-monitoring wearables are providing critical data needed to help fight the disease. Yet the use of IoT in fighting the pandemic has also shed light on concerns about its security, privacy, interoperability and equity.
It is clear that we are at a pivotal moment, when the development, use and governance of these technologies is rapidly changing and evolving. As societies emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, a unique window of opportunity has opened to reimagine our relationship with IoT, realise new opportunities for growth and unlock a safer and more inclusive use of the technology.
With this backdrop in mind, the report highlighted ten major findings:
As IoT becomes more tightly incorporated into every aspect of our lives, it will provide a far deeper understanding of ourselves and the world we live in. The sheer number of connections between people and things will likely enable new kinds of economic and social interaction and creative endeavour. Ultimately, if IoT is developed and governed properly, it will expand human potential and elevate the lives of all people.
While governance is needed to address privacy issues and enhance security, too many regulations could hinder the growth of IoT. A balance must be struck between the two, and the approach will need to be tailored to use cases and sectors. IoT is already an indispensable part of our daily lives and fundamental infrastructure. As it grows in extent and capability, society must act to ensure a connected world that is trustworthy, safe, collaborative, efficient, human-centred and generates new opportunities and benefits for all of society.
Download the full State of the Connected World: 2020 Edition report for more insights.
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