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UN Publishes "Internet of Things" Report

The International Telecommunication Union, a body of the United Nations that coordinates global telecom networks and services, released a report entitled at the World Summit on the Information Society held the week before last in Tunis. This article highlights the report's contents.
Nov 28, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 28, 2005—The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a body of the United Nations that coordinates global telecom networks and services, released a report entitled The Internet of Things at the World Summit on the Information Society held the week before last in the Tunisian capital of Tunis. According to the executive summary, the 130-page report "gives an in-depth introduction to the Internet of Things and its effect on businesses and individuals around the world. It contains information on key emerging technologies, market opportunities and policy implications." It is the latest in the annual "ITU Internet Reports" series, whose past publications have addressed other transformative technologies (The Portable Internet last year, The Birth of Broadband in 2003, and IP Telephony in 2001, as examples).

This year's spotlight on the Internet of Things is significant for RFID industry participants who are working hard towards making the concept a reality. Whereas before the Internet of Things might have been familiar only to people familiar with RFID and sensor technology, this report aims to acquaint world leaders with the concept as well. The executive summary, which is available free, grandly states, "We are standing on the brink of a new ubiquitous computing and communication era, one that will radically transform our corporate, community, and personal spheres." Primary among the discussed technologies is RFID, which the report cites as the most mature of the technologies that will constitute the Internet of Things. Wireless sensors, nanotechnology, robotics, and other enabling technologies are also often referenced as key long-term pieces to the fully-realized vision.

One of the report's more interesting points is its assertion that the Internet of Things presents meaningful opportunities to the developing world. Some of the technologies and innovations might originate there, helping to stimulate industry and drive economic growth. "Far from being passive followers of the Internet of Things, the developing world stands to greatly influence the implementation and widespread adoption of these emerging technologies." Giants China and India are cited as likely candidates. Furthermore, the technologies could serve to improve the quality of life in poorer parts of the world, effectively helping to bridge the digital divide rather than widen it. "These technologies have much to offer for the developing world and can lead to tangible applications in ... medical diagnosis and treatment, cleaner water, improved sanitation, energy production, the export of commodities and food security."

Download the executive summary (PDF)
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