Shaping the future of the internet of things and urban transformation

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Transforming the spaces in which we live, work and play to enable a more sustainable, resilient and prosperous future for all.

 The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we live. It is transforming industries and how we do business. It is intensifying social and environmental crises in our communities. And it is challenging fundamental assumptions and global trends, such as urbanization, that have cemented over more than 200 years since the First Industrial Revolution.

As the world prepares to build back stronger and better, we have new tools available to support this effort. A growing suite of connected devices and smart technologies, commonly referred to as the internet of things (IoT), offers a means to reimagine and transform physical spaces—our homes, offices, factories, farms, healthcare facilities and public spaces—to be more adaptive, customized and even anticipate new needs before they arise. New models for public-private cooperation and shared community services are also changing the way in which cities provide services to residents and business, blurring the lines between government and the private sector.

The World Economic Forum’s Platform for Shaping the Future of the Internet of Things and Urban Transformation is working with more than 100 global partners to ensure that these changes deliver a future that is more sustainable, resilient and prosperous for all. This includes, for example, initiatives with the Government of Brazil to support small and medium-sized enterprises and advance social mobility, collaboration with the G20 to modernize city services, and partnerships with wearables companies to help manage and avert the spread of COVID-19.

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Could IoT help fight the talent shortage?

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Fear of losing your job to a robot is nothing new, but is it time the conversation shifted?

For as long as there have been robots, there have been fears they will take people’s jobs. The rise of the internet of things (IoT) echoes these concerns. An engineer no longer has to monitor a machine or switch on a bank of lights, IoT sensors can do it instead. Smart devices may not be an answer to the global talent shortage, but they’re starting to impact the work employees do.

The likes of heating, lighting and maintenance are already being automated, reducing routine tasks and eliminating others, in offices and factories around the globe. Demand for IoT is changing the role of facilities managers in a way that mirrors how self-service checkouts disrupted customer services in supermarkets or automatic doors and monitoring systems have affected guards and train drivers.

“The increased deployment of data-driven technologies is raising social, legal and ethical questions about the impact on people and their everyday lives. It’s vital that we find ways to engage with employees and the public, as well as identify the issues so they can be addressed,” says Julian David, chief executive of techUK.

Thought leaders are keen to highlight the strong demand for IoT isn’t going to lead to mass redundancies or answer post-Brexit talent shortages, an aging demographic or lead to less work for humans. Instead the focus is on IoT helping people do jobs better, with more productive and added-value tasks, empowered by data, redefining employment in the process.

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How AI is helping reinvent the world of manufacturing

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Throughout each industrial era, the companies best able to embrace change have become the most likely to succeed. This dates back to the development of steam and combustion engines through to electricity, microprocessors and now artificial intelligence.

In The Future Computed: AI and Manufacturing, Microsoft Senior Director Greg Shaw explores how AI, automation and the internet of things (IoT) present new challenges and opportunities.

Here are some of the manufacturers already demonstrating how the latest tech advances are changing the way they work.

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Photovoltaic-powered sensors for the ‘Internet of Things’

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MIT researchers have designed low-cost, photovoltaic-powered sensors on RFID tags that work in sunlight and dimmer indoor lighting, and can transmit data for years before needing replacement. Credit: MIT News

By 2025, experts estimate the number of Internet of Things devices—including sensors that gather real-time data about infrastructure and the environment—could rise to 75 billion worldwide. As it stands, however, those sensors require batteries that must be replaced frequently, which can be problematic for long-term monitoring.

MIT researchers have designed photovoltaic-powered sensors that could potentially transmit data for years before they need to be replaced. To do so, they mounted thin-film perovskite cells—known for their potential low cost, flexibility, and relative ease of fabrication—as energy-harvesters on inexpensive radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

The cells could power the sensors in both bright sunlight and dimmer indoor conditions. Moreover, the team found the solar power actually gives the sensors a major power boost that enables greater data-transmission distances and the ability to integrate multiple sensors onto a single RFID tag.

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What is Web 3.0 ?


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Have You Been Wondering What Web 3.0 Is?

If you’ve been hanging out with techie friends at a conference lately, you’ve probably heard the term “Web 3.0.” And if you haven’t yet, you probably will soon. But if it’s one of those questions you’re a little ashamed to ask, don’t be. Not many people know what Web 3.0 is, so it’s understandable if you’re confused.

On top of that, a really succinct description and tight enough narrative have yet to emerge, making its definition open to interpretation. Experts are also still arguing over what pertains to Web 3.0 and what will come way in the future.

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Very risky business: the pros and cons of insurance companies embracing artificial intelligence

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The enabling technology for insurers to use AI is the ‘ecosystem’ of sensors known as the internet of things.

It’s a new day not very far in the future. You wake up; your wristwatch has recorded how long you’ve slept, and monitored your heartbeat and breathing. You drive to work; car sensors track your speed and braking. You pick up some breakfast on your way, paying electronically; the transaction and the calorie content of your meal are recorded.

Then you have a car accident. You phone your insurance company. Your call is answered immediately. The voice on the other end knows your name and amiably chats to you about your pet cat and how your favourite football team did on the weekend.

You’re talking to a chat-bot. The reason it “knows” so much about you is because the insurance company is using artificial intelligence to scrape information about you from social media. It knows a lot more besides, because you’ve agreed to let it monitor your personal devices in exchange for cheaper insurance premiums.

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How IoT is being used for Australian agriculture in 2019

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CSIRO’s Vertebrate Pest Detect-and-Deter (VPDaD) device

The development of IoT for agriculture is still in its early stages, but it looks promising as more farmers are putting these technologies to work.

Australian agriculture has historically been defined by long droughts and irregular rainfall. For farmers, these harsh conditions leave small margins for error, meaning that gruelling work on the paddock does not necessarily translate to healthy stock or strong crop harvests.

One way that farmers have adapted to these conditions is the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and sensors. But in comparison to other sectors, farmers have been slow to adopt these technologies due to concerns surrounding the cost of implementation and ongoing service—particularly when there is no immediate value received for certain IoT technologies, which can sometimes take several years of accumulating data before it shows its value.

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A massive, ‘semi-infinite’ trove of rare-earth metals has been found in Japan

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  • Researchers have found hundreds of years’ worth of rare-earth materials underneath Japanese waters — enough to supply to the world on a “semi-infinite basis,” according to a study published in Nature Publishing Group’s Scientific Reports.
  • Rare-earth metals are crucial in the making of high-tech products such as electric vehicles and batteries, and most of the world has relied on China for almost all of its needs.

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19 astonishing quotes about the Internet of Things everyone should read

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Seems like everybody is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT)—the good, the bad and the alarming along the lines of. “It’s the beginning of machines taking over the world.” The IoT is when everyday products such as refrigerators, watches, speakers and more connect to the internet and to one another. The Internet of Things is already transforming our homes and workplaces.

So, what are some of the world’s brightest minds, most notable figures or just everyday people saying about the Internet of Things (IoT)? Here’s a sampling of what’s been written or talked about when it comes to the Internet of Things.

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Ten key skills for the future

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This report analyzes key drivers that will reshape the landscape of work and identifies key work skills needed in the next 10 years. It does not consider what will be the jobs of the future. Many studies have tried to predict specific job categories and labor requirements.

Consistently over the years, however, it has been shown that such predictions are difficult and many of the past predictions have been proven wrong. Rather than focusing on future jobs, this report looks at future work skills—proficiencies and abilities required across different jobs and work settings.

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