How 5G can be a force for social equality

  • COVID-19 has highlighted society’s reliance on digital connectivity, whilst exposing the access inequalities of developing countries.
  • The tech industry is uniquely positioned to broaden digital access through 5G cloud-based storage solutions which could significantly lower the cost of devices.
  • The Edison Alliance, a joint initiative between Verizon and the World Economic Forum, aims to prioritize digital inclusion worldwide.

The past year has starkly illustrated just how crucial digital connectivity has become in the lives of people across the income spectrum, in countries around the world.

It wasn’t that long ago that high-speed internet access was seen as a “nice-to-have” for the affluent and the tech elite. COVID-19 has turned it into a must-have for more and more people – a lifeline for socially distanced work, school, social connections, and even health-care consultations.

This highly networked lifestyle is not likely to disappear with the arrival of coronavirus vaccines. For starters, we’d be kidding ourselves to assume that this will be the last mass shelter-in-place event of our lifetimes. Climate change is loading the dice in favour of extreme weather events and disease-spreading pathogens, any of which could—depending on circumstances—compel us to once again hunker down with our keyboards and screens.

But even without such scenarios, it seems probable that working from home, distance-learning, and the other arrangements we have all improvised for the pandemic will forever alter the way we conduct some of the basic functions of life. We’d been anticipating the arrival of a more digitized society; COVID-19 has simply sped up the timetable.

Then there’s the fact that all of this coincides with the emergence of 5G wireless networks and mass access to cloud storage and computing. This blend of extremely fast connectivity, enormous computing power, and essentially infinite storage capacity—all literally in the palm of one’s hand—marks a watershed moment in humanity’s relationship to its own technology.

Tech industry has a unique role to play

It should also be a watershed in tech’s relationship to humanity. We in the tech industry need to face the fact that our sector is commonly associated—often unfairly, but perhaps more fairly than we’d like to tell ourselves—with widening gaps in our societies. Gaps between rich and poor; between affluent nations and the so-called “developing” world; between urban and rural; between those with advanced or elite educational degrees and those without; between the tech sector itself and the rest of the economy.

If there were ever a moment for tech to change this narrative and bend the arc of its own history, this is it. Some might expect tech to be the last place to look for meaningful advances in social equality, but the arrival of 5G and related technologies offers a once in a generation opportunity for precisely such advances, from precisely such a place.

We need to start from the principle that our industry is uniquely positioned to promise people the tools they need to engage with their own communities, gain access to broader perspectives, and (in pop-psych lingo) to become their best selves. We need to embrace our role in making this promise as equitable, open, and inclusive as possible. And we need to reflect that commitment in everything we do.

Increase digital access to reduce inequalities

The good news is that we now have a reasonable foundation for such dreams of digital inclusivity. Within just the last decade and a half, the proportion of the world’s population with internet access has grown substantially – from about 17% to over 50%, according to the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union.

However, that heartening statistic conceals wide variances and lingering inequalities. The proportion of people with internet access is over 80% in Europe, but less than 30% in Africa. In addition, there are marked gender imbalances in access within many countries.

Reducing such imbalances – both among and within nations – must be a top priority for our industry. We have all kinds of incentives (some admittedly rather self-serving, some less obviously so) to make this happen.

There is a growing global consensus for such action. On 28 January this year, the World Economic Forum announced The EDISON Alliance, a first of its kind initiative to foster digital access and inclusivity worldwide. Headed by Verizon Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg, this public-private collaboration is calling attention to the vital role that connectivity can play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Barriers to exclusive tech are being dismantled

One great ally in this effort will be the shifting economics of technological access. To put it bluntly, tech is getting cheaper even as it’s becoming more powerful.

That’s an amazing combination, and here’s just one example of how it works. One of the tech breakthroughs that 5G makes possible is something called mobile-edge computing, or MEC. In essence, MEC is about the provision of cloud storage capacity at the edge of the network itself.

With that much storage available on the network, devices like laptops and tablets and phones can be smaller and cheaper; after all, they no longer have to hold much storage capacity, since the network now takes care of that. Welcome to the age of the hyper-powered “thin client”, the low-cost, bare-bones device that packs a computational prowess formerly available only on room sized mainframes.

By taking the computing and heavy work out of the device, and putting it at the edge of the network, we can transform virtual reality headsets from $1,500 luxury toys to $100 mass market portals to new realms of education, entertainment and exploration.

The potential implications of this shift are extraordinary. One of our company’s top philanthropic priorities is Verizon Innovative Learning, which seeks to provide high-speed network technologies to under-resourced school districts throughout the United States. The arrival of MEC vastly expands the potential of such an effort.

It is now feasible to imagine low-income districts providing students (and their families) access to a level of computing power that a few years ago would have been available only to major research universities with multi-billion dollar endowments.

But such a radical democratization of tech access won’t happen all by itself. We in the tech industry must be quite intentional about maximizing the barrier smashing, inequality busting potential of our products and services.

To many, our sector has become virtually synonymous with rising levels of social and economic disparity. We now have an extraordinary opportunity to create a new story, both for ourselves and for the world around us. History, and our own customers, will judge us by our choices.

FULL SOURCE via World Economic Forum

COVID-19 showed the importance of 5G for the economy and the environment

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how connectivity has become an even bigger part of critical infrastructure, helping people in an unprecedented way to work, study and socialize online. Last year, consumer use of fixed broadband increased by an average of two and half hours per day, and on mobile by one hour.

In its first 5G Outlook Series report, the World Economic Forum highlighted several activities behind that increased usage: in healthcare, a 490% increase in telemedicine urgent care visits; in socialization a 75% increase in online gaming; and in retail, online transactions were up 74% globally. In the world of work, Ericsson’s Mobility Report showed 60% of white-collar workers increased their usage of video calls.

Despite the sudden and unprecedented changes in traffic patterns and demand, the networks performed well, with operators generally providing enough network performance. This strong performance was reflected in users’ perceptions, with 83% claiming ICT helped them a lot, in one way or another, to cope with lockdowns.

Without the investments made in 4G and 5G, none of the uses including telemedicine, video calls and gaming could have been delivered to the extent seen through the pandemic.

With vaccines rolling out, there is a risk that society seeks to pick-up from before the pandemic took hold. However, it is obvious the world cannot move forward by returning to the pre-pandemic status quo. If we are to emerge strongly from COVID-19 and tackle greater challenges, such as climate change, then not only do we need to continue the digital evolution, but we need to accelerate it with 5G at the forefront.

FULL SOURCE via WEF

New Normal: Chinese Citizens Have to Scan a Tracking App to Re-Enter Their Own Homes

That’s according to a LockdownSceptics.org reader who has lived in China on and off since 2002 and owns a home and company there.

According to the reader, life isn’t back to what it was before the pandemic and has in fact changed drastically.

“Prior to the crisis, the population could move around freely without restriction,” he writes. “Now, you cannot enter most major public places like a station, an airport, a mall or any government building, without scanning a tracking app on your phone that clears you for entry with a green smiley face. Most residential compounds also require scanning to enter. So after you leave your home, you need to pass a scan to come back in.”

The individual also notes that “surveillance of the population is now total and absolute,” with virtually all transactions being run through either WePay or Alipay, which links them to a government ID number.

He also asserts that the notion that face masks were common in China before COVID-19 is a myth and that they were in fact “a rare sight.”

“Masks are now ubiquitous. There is supposedly no coronavirus in China but you need to wear a mask in airports, stations, malls, large public gatherings, taxis and all government buildings.”

Summit News

Digital transformation will confirm Britain’s place in the world post-Brexit

Digital transformation will confirm Britain’s place in the world post-Brexit

By Harry Weber-Brown, Digital Innovation Director at TISA.

There is no doubt that 2020 was a trying year for the UK. Besides the pandemic-shaped elephant in the room, there was the looming issue of a Brexit trade deal. Since March last year, quite rightly the Government’s focus has been on protecting health, jobs, and our economy in the short term. But this left a lot of uncertainty about how the UK would operate once the Brexit transition came to an end, especially for the financial services industry.

FULL ARTICLE SOURCE BELOW

https://www.biometricupdate.com/202101/digital-transformation-will-confirm-britains-place-in-the-world-post-brexit

Face biometrics deployments increase as regulator and public push back

The regulatory heat around facial recognition continues to rise, even as implementations increase from airports to digital health credentials around the world.

facial-recognition-database

The FTC has declared its intention to crack down on facial recognition surveillance systems, just as Rank One Computing has brought on an executive with extensive federal agency experience on board. A health passport with iProov face biometrics has reached the testing stage, while Blank Rome offers some guidance for businesses trying to sort out their obligations under Portland’s new regulations on facial recognition.

FULL ARTICLE SOURCE BELOW

https://www.biometricupdate.com/202101/face-biometrics-deployments-increase-as-regulator-and-public-push-back

Why is Gates denying Event 201?

In October, 2019 Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who, together with his wife, runs the richest and most powerful foundation in the world, co-organised a simulation exercise on a worldwide corona epidemic. Videos were posted documenting the exercise. But intriguingly Gates now denies such an exercise ever took place.

Why is Gates denying Event 201?

Why? On April 12, 2020, Bill Gates said in an interview to the BBC, “Now here we are. We didn’t simulate this, we didn’t practice, so both the health policies and economic policies, we find ourselves in uncharted territory.”

FULL ARTICLE SOURCE BELOW

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/international/why-is-gates-denying-event-201