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5G, Arctic gold rush excite global tech forum attendees

Jay Gillette | Oct. 5, 2015
Oulu, Finland -- The 24th Global Forum, an annual policy and strategy conference for technology leaders, was held this week in Oulu, a Nordic university town and research city about 100 miles from the Arctic Circle.

Yet he says that’s too narrow: broadband and mobile coverage are only means to the real goal: social and economic progress against three global challenges: 1) Overall innovation is poor; 2) Worldwide growth is low; 3) International unemployment is high.

ICT can help—they account for half of productivity growth, and one fourth of GDP growth.

Andersen says there are four key pillars for the information economy: e-infrastructure, e-applications, e-security/e-privacy and e-literacy/e-skills.

He called for an “ecosystem of the digital economy,” with a “whole government approach” to address these issues at the macro level.

Global Forum’s panel “Toward Greater Intelligent Infrastructures” took up Andersen’s challenge the next day. Nokia’s Timo Ali-Vehmas expanded on a vision of a “Future Intelligent Infrastructure” that focused on four clusters of ICT: Content; Network; Consumer Device; Consumer Identity/Data/Service.

He said that oncoming 5G networks have to support all sectors of society, not like 4G that provided only a few sets of services, a “flat architecture,” of a “flat ecosystem.”

Ali-Vehmas suggested that if 5G networking can transcend the earlier limitations, “it will be one of the greatest endeavors mankind has ever done.”

He said “history is repeating itself, in unpredictable ways.” What will be needed in any information economy ecosystem is Consumer Choice, Interoperability, Competition.

From Smart to Smarter Cities: “From Goal to Journey”

Global Forum’s emphasis on “Smart City” development, a recent trend of its conferences, was also a theme in Finland. The City of Oulu is a pioneer in this area: it was twice a finalist for Intelligent Community of the Year.

Alexey Ershov, of IBM, said that “Smarter City” is a better approach than “Smart City.” He said “Smart City” is a goal, but “Smarter City” is a journey. That’s a more realistic way for communities to think about their transitions to the information economy, he suggested.

Regarding the conference “disruption” theme, he said “We ain’t seen nothing yet”—disruption will continue, and intensify. He pointed out current valuations of these disruptive companies: Uber, $50 billion; AirBnB, $25 billion; Tesla, $33 billion; versus Renault at $18 billion, and BMW at $50 billion.

Today’s smarter citizens also expect more of their cities, and city administrations. Ershov called for ICT platforms that reduce the cost of city services, and increase the quality of services from public and private providers.

Finland’s Six Cities initiative addresses these concerns for a consortium of the country’s six biggest cities. They have three project areas: Open Innovation Platforms; Open Data and Interfaces; Open Participation and Customership.

Dr. Sylviane Toporkoff, President of Global Forum, led the 2015 conference as a Founding Partner of sponsor ITEMS International. The next Global Forum will be held in fall 2016, at a European venue to be announced early next year.


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