FROM RIVERS AND OCEANS AS ANCIENT FLOWS OF INFORMATION TO THE INTERNET OF THINGS
A brief summary of information sharing
As mentioned, one of the earliest known forms of information sharing took the form of cave drawings around 15,000 BC. In addition, ancient civilisations used smoke signals to share information such as declaring territory and sending out warnings of imminent danger. As civilisations evolved, so did their methods of information sharing. In 200BC, carrier pigeons were used to transfer information from one point to another. The Romans were among the first to adopt this form of communication and used it mainly to keep their military informed. From there, information sharing evolved from walls to scrolls and documentation became more sophisticated with the advent of imagery and alphabets. The decades that followed saw the introduction of Morse code, the telegram, the telephone and fax machine and the first radio and television broadcast and finally mobile and wireless communications. This ultimately led us to the introduction of 5G and Wi-Fi offering more sophisticated and faster means to communicate and share information using mobile phones, sending emails and sharing on social media.
5G and IoT: A powerful combination
5G is undoubtedly transforming connectivity. This 5th generation of mobile network brought with it rapid data downloads and uploads, wider coverage and more stable connections. As the number of IoT devices increases, 5G will become increasingly important. IoT will rely on 5G to transmit vast amounts of data in real time and is estimated to grow from 12 billion in 2020 to 30 billion+ in 2025. That is roughly 4 IoT devices for each person on earth.
The commercial success of IoT devices depends on how well they can communicate with devices such as smartphones, tablets, user interfaces and so forth. The faster they communicate, the bigger the benefits to the end-user (or industry). This is where 5G needs to be factored in. Industries such as manufacturing, energy and utilities, agriculture and retails are all jostling to exploit 5G/IoT tech. It is envisaged that 5G will be used in factories to fuel bandwidth-heavy technologies such as automation, IoT devices, and artificial intelligence while energy and utility companies can benefit from 5G-powered sensors providing real-time insights into power outages and energy usage. On the agricultural front, 5G can assist farmers by offering greater insight into their crops and the management thereof, leading to higher crop yields and better-quality output. Moreover, retail will benefit from 5G technology that can, for example, help customers shop more efficiently and check out faster while also collecting more data on the customer experience, as seen in the newly launched Amazon Go stores.
The desire to communicate and share and collect information has always been present only now the medium has changed. Internet connectivity – and a combination of 5G and IoT – has the potential to be one of the most profound enablers of economic growth of our time, empowering businesses to become more agile and run more efficiently.