The smartphone that fits into your pocket today is more powerful than the computing power used in the Apollo mission in 1969. It’s a mind-boggling fact, but technology has come a long way since the days of gigantic mainframes that were being used to calculate what would seem fairly simple.
Today, you can do virtually anything through your mobile phone or wearable technology – monitor your heart rate, transfer money, order food, hail a cab or even operate a drone. We are now moving into the realm of artificial intelligence and autonomous driving. Connectivity, sensors, devices and analytics are creating incredible outcomes not just for us as individuals, but for industries – from transportation, manufacturing to healthcare and public services.
But we are faced with an enormous challenge that could threaten this bright, digital future. The world’s population is expanding at a phenomenal rate, and, driven by the pursuit of a better life compared to rural locations, they are flocking to cities. To put things into perspective, more than half of the world’s population lived in urban centres in 2016, and the United Nations predicts that by 2050, this number could reach nearly 70%, turning more cities into ‘megacities’ – metropolises with populations in excess of 10 million. And the region that’s leading this change is Asia. In 2010, Asia was home to just nine of the world’s 31 megacities. By 2025, it will have more than half of the projected 39 megacities globally.
The reality of urban life therefore may not be how people would imagine it to be. Inevitably, this unprecedented urbanization will put a strain on support systems, housing, jobs, education, transport, energy and health. It will push this region to the limit with an ageing population, shifting demographics and increasing pressures to be more efficient through new and emerging technologies. Importantly, it is driving governments, policy makers, city planners and service providers to push digitalization higher up on the agenda.
While these challenges are real, there are massive opportunities in new communication technologies that can drastically change lives. Imagine a life with quicker access to quality healthcare from real time diagnostics and highly accurate patient information, or emergency services that can help save more lives because of zero latency networks. Imagine smarter traffic management systems that could significantly reduce congestion and carbon emissions due to intelligent sensors. Imagine a reinvention of manufacturing through deep analytics and predictive maintenance that will enable faster and safer food production, or advanced security systems that will result in a crime-free environment.
The possibilities are there for sure, but they will only happen when we continue to innovate and invest. While we are heading in the right direction, we must accelerate the speed of digitalization to outpace this rapid rate of urbanization.
Nokia is in a prime position to help shape the future of technology – from enabling infrastructure for 5G and the Internet of Things, to emerging applications in virtual reality and digital health. By pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, we can accelerate this digital future, and reimagine Asia.
Visit our website to learn how Nokia is creating technology to connect the world and transform the human experience.
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