Nº 6 2015 > Celebrating ITU’s 150 Years

ITU as a platform for innovation

Innovating with Olga:
How will technology transform our cities?

ITU as a platform for innovation

It is predicted that 66 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 — which will put increased pressure on already stretched services and the environment as we rapidly approach 9 billion global citizens. Increased connectivity will help cities adapt to this growing demand through the deployment of smart sustainable cities, which will bring new benefits and opportunities to industries such as health care, transportation and education. Dr Olga Cavalli, ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee vice-chair, ISOC Argentina President, and lecturer at University of Buenos Aires, explains how technology will improve urban efficiency and quality of life.

Current technological development is opening up new opportunities for how we connect with each other and the world around us. This increased connectivity will drive the evolution towards Smart sustainable cities, where services will be powered by information and communication technologies (ICT) to increase environmental efficiencies and improve our quality of life. Things like turning your household heating on from your mobile device or commuting to work with a self-driving car will become a reality in the near future — and soon, we won’t be able to imagine living life any other way.

I have been working to bring this “connected living” to Argentina in various capacities over the past ten years. As vice-chair of ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), President of ISOC Argentina, lecturer and electric and electronic engineer, I’ve helped to coordinate critical building-blocks including developing critical ICT infrastructure and policy in poor and rural areas, as well as the transition from Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) — a vital step towards the deployment of Smart sustainable cities.

In a smart sustainable city, a fully connected ecosystem will improve quality of life and access to services. It will have a positive impact on our day-to-day lives — enhanced traffic management systems will certainly improve the lives of most daily commuters. But how will this be developed and deployed?

Infrastructure and resources

This next generation of services is a natural evolution of today’s Internet-enabled environment. However, technological development cannot occur without an adequate infrastructure to reinforce it, which will play a decisive role in the roll-out of Smart Sustainable City services. This relies on two key elements: greater broadband connectivity and sufficient addressing resources. At the end of 2014, 65 per cent of Argentina was online and using the Internet. Our physical geography — including the Patagonian desert in the South and Andes mountain range which runs along the North-West of the country — has created sparsely populated areas which lack financial incentive for private industries to roll-out Internet. Therefore, government intervention is necessary. In addition to the roll-out of fibre networks throughout the country, the Argentine government has launched a number of infrastructure development initiatives to connect the country: Argentina Conectada and the Federal Fiber Optic Network, and the capacity building programme “Conectar Igualdad”, which has provided more than five million computers to students in Argentina.

To cope with the increasing demand that this expanded connectivity will require, we must increase addressing resources. However, address allocations are rapidly diminishing in the 32-bit address space available in the current Internet infrastructure, Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4). Therefore, we need to make a swift transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) — the next generation of Internet addressing infrastructure that provides 128-bit addressing space, increasing the size by trillions of times and providing sufficient addresses for the foreseeable future. This vast increase will give us the opportunity to connect a multitude of devices to the Internet — from fridges to traffic lights to sewage systems — which will pave the way for Smart sustainable cities.

Ten years ago, participation in IPv6 discussions in Latin America was very low. We need more relevant engagement in our region because the environment in Latin America is different to other regions — for example, its asymmetry, infrastructure, and the economy — so solutions must be defined with this in mind. Consequently, I co-founded the South School on Internet Governance to train the next leaders of Internet governance in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Smart sustainable cities and development

Smart sustainable cities are an important component to the future of sustainable development. Goals 9 and 11 of the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cite sustainable transport and sustainable urbanization as key targets. By increasing urban and environmental efficiencies, and supporting easier and better access to health care and education, Smart sustainable cities have a role to play in the achievement of the post-2015 agenda more broadly.

Global statistics show a wide digital divide between developed and developing countries, with Internet users representing 82 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, in 2015. Internet connectivity is a key component if we are to reach these global development opportunities via Smart sustainable cities.

This article is an abridgement.
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Celebrating ITU’s 150 Years

In this issue
No.6 November | December 2015

Pathway for smart sustainable cities:

A guide for city leaders

Pathway for smart sustainable cities|1

Meeting with the Secretary-General:

Official Visits

Meeting with the Secretary-General|1
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By Silvia Guzmán, Chairman, ITU Focus Group for Smart Sustainable Cities