How is mobile technology redefining our lives?

A summary of some of the observations and projections from a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study on the impact of mobile/cellular services worldwide. the Caribbean much has been made about increasing access to and the availability of mobile/cellular services. Telecoms companies are still jostling for market share, where competition exists, and also have been attempting to introduce the latest technologies, which more capably support broadband Internet use. On the other hand, policy makers, and to a lesser degree, regulators have been lobbying for lower mobile voice and broadband rates, to widen the customer pool for which those services would be affordable.

Having said this, although there has been a focus on greater inclusion – universal access to mobile/cellular services – so that people can stay better connected, there still appears to be uneven efforts regarding truly using the technology to improve lives. Here we will share some insights on the impact mobile/cellular technology has had globally, and is likely to have, into the future.

Select findings

In a study recently conducted on behalf of the GSM Association, Connected Life: The impact of the Connected Life over the next five years, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) examined the impact of mobile/cellular services in the following four areas: health; education; transportation; and city management. Following the infographic below are some of the key findings of the PwC exercise in the specified areas.

Connected Life Infographic (Source GSM Association)

Select findings for mHealth

  • OECD countries spend close to USD 6 trillion in healthcare costs every year
  •  mHealth could help cut healthcare costs in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries by over USD 400 billion in 2017
  • Some of the interventions currently occurring include:
    • The sharing of information on antenatal care, delivery services and child care, between healthcare workers and pregnant women via free SMS and calls
    • The use of SMS services to remind patients to take their medication.

Select findings for mEducation

  • Of the 610 million students enrolled in primary education worldwide, only 67 million graduate from the last grade of primary every year
  • Of the 67 million who graduate from primary school, only 10 million students are enrolling in the first grade of secondary, meaning that 57 million do not enrol
  • By 2017, mEducation could help keep 1.8 million students in school across developed nations.

Select findings for mAutomotive

  • Developing nations waste over 1.1 billion tonnes of food every year
  • By 2017, mAutomotive solutions, such as fleet telematics, could prevent enough wastage to feed over 40 million people a year, which is equivalent to the population of Kenya, or two-thirds of the United Kingdom
  • Over 85,000 people die every year from road accidents across OECD regions
  • Mobile-enabled in-car emergency call services could save one in nine lives lost in road accidents
  • mAutomotive services could reduce emergency response time by 50% in rural areas and 40% in urban centres.

Select findings for Smart City

  • Typical commute times in the largest cities in the developing world are in excess of 90 minutes a day
  • It would take the equivalent of 16 billion trees to offset the amount of carbon emissions from the top 50 OECD cities
  • In major cities across the developed world, smart metering could reduce carbon emissions offset by over 1.2 billion trees (or 27 million tonnes of carbon dioxide)
  • Domestic smart meters have the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of households.

In summary, mobile/cellular technology is beginning to, and is expected to continue to, have a considerable impact on both the developed and developing world. Regarding mobile/cellular phones, most people secure them for their own personal use and reasons. Additionally, current and still developing wireless technologies, along with machine-to-machine communications and the Internet of Things, are leading us to an ever more connected world.

When these and other technologies and innovations are considered, there is an enormous opportunity to implement a range of mobile-capable initiatives that can improve the lives of their citizens, reduce the burden on countries, and improve our societies as a whole. In the Caribbean, there are a wealth of opportunities still to be exploited. What do you think it would take for us to begin to do so?


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