business and citizen services such as
permitting, licensing, benefits determination and distribution, and health
information. But those without them
might not need to acquire them the way
the developed world has—somewhat
haphazardly over the years, with large
capital and operational spending on
data centers and heavily customized
suites of application software, with
legacies that do not easily link.
Not today, and not quite tomorrow—
but when we have worked out the issues
around what soft ware can really take advantage of the cloud model, and what
government concerns there are around
security, location of data, and so on—
will the cloud become a cost-effective
platform and a way to deliver significant changes in governments’ capabilities without huge cost? Tying a cloud
platform together with mobile devices
creates a versatile and cost-effective
platform for all kinds of services.
Perhaps cloud centers, regionally
placed, with public and private investment, could allow the developing world
to access the kinds of systems that help
developed nations’ governments—but
without the “legacy” and level of investment that it took. Perhaps they could
show international organizations some
ways to better leverage their investments. I hope such approaches could
be game-changing in how we help nations improve transparency and accountability, enhance citizen services,
and generate economic development.
Early examples are proliferating—
in Vietnam a government agency uses
a cloud approach to provide a collaborative infrastructure for innovation:
linking government, universities,
private-sector research, startups, and
other organizations. And a Chinese
city wanting to create a software industry for the region plans to support
several hundred thousand developers
across hundreds of companies—but it
won’t build a data center to do it. It will
provide a cloud-based development
environment that can scale as the vision grows.
“Mashing up” medical services, consumer electronics, and connectivity will
allow broader and more cost-effective
access to health care. Telepresence is
already enabling remote consultations.
Over time, new, smaller, less-expensive
sensors will allow condition monitoring
We are learning how
ic T can be applied in
new ways to diverse
of potentially millions of patients. We’ll
see new ways of navigating medical information drawn from multiple sources, and in particular radical new visualizations—think of a “Google Earth” for
the body. Already researchers have demonstrated prototype visualization software that allows doctors to interact with
medical data the same way they interact
with their patients: by looking at the human body—through a 3D avatar.
In another example, to overcome
the problems of deploying expensive
imaging equipment in many different
places, imaging and diagnosis will be
able to use relatively inexpensive and
accessible components, then use the
network to access high-performance
computing facilities to create key images and transmit them. Splitting information collection, processing, and
visualization will enable much wider
deployment into remote and less prosperous parts of the world.
The immersive Internet—becoming
a multidimensional place. Early virtual
worlds, including games, are precursors to a “3D” Net, one that integrates
with the existing Web and allows for
new applications with enhanced immediacy and interactivity. Such an
environment will encourage the formation of in-world social groups—
collaborations, teams, guilds, clubs,
neighborhoods, and so forth. The
Internet will go even further toward
satisfying two key aspects of being
human: our innately social and visual
The developed nations are exploring the retail possibilities of the 3D
Internet—an immersive world where
you’ll “walk” the aisles of supermarkets, bookstores, and other shops and
you’ll encounter experts you’d rarely
find in your local store.
But beyond that, the 3D Internet will
enable whole new kinds of interactive
education, remote medicine and citizen
access, transforming how people can interact with our friends, family, doctors,
teachers, government, and more.
The initial hype has abated a little.
But it is still early, and there remains
much promise for the immersive, social attributes of these virtual worlds,
which, in a connected world, can reflect
real-life experiences and bring new levels of education and training to remote
and underserved communities.
Technology will help to tackle environmental and resource challenges. We
are learning how ICT can be applied
in new ways to diverse environmental
challenges. We know that the developing world, while not alone in this, is at
the forefront of tackling energy, environment, and resource problems. So
what might be possible?
More effective water filtration is
emerging from nanotechnology research. As we think more about water
management and conservation as an
information problem, using sensors
and actuators connected across networks to large-scale computing resources, it changes our approaches to
managing quality and supply.
Intelligent transportation systems
are proving they can reduce congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Intelligent grids make better
use of power, wasting less and allowing easier access to alternative generation sources.
Silicon technology research is finding new ways to build solar power technology. Have you ever considered how
much energy could be created by having
solar technology embedded in roads,
in the frames of buildings, in paint,
rooftops, and windows? Until now, the
materials and the process of producing
solar cells for solar energy conversion
have been too costly for widespread
adoption. But now this is changing with
the creation of “thin-film” solar cells, a
new type of cost-efficient solar cell that
can be 100 times thinner than silicon-wafer cells and produced at a lower
cost. These new thin-film solar cells can
be “printed” and arranged on a flexible backing, suitable for not only the
tops, but also the sides of buildings,
tinted windows, cellphones, notebook
computers, cars, and even clothing.