Using IoT, mobile broadband and cloud to spur sustainable urbanization
Ever since adolescence, I’ve wondered what I can do to contribute and act as a force for positive change. Early on I discovered that technology and doing good can go hand in hand.
This week is exciting for me because it is the week of Habitat III – the third UN conference on urban settlement which is taking place in Quito, Ecuador. These conferences are only held every 20th year, and this is the first time that information and communication technology (ICT) is on the agenda. Habitat III is important because it is where the international urbanization agenda for the next 20 years – The New Urban Agenda – will be set. It will include ICT both as basic infrastructure and as an enabler for sustainable urban development with focus on IoT, mobile broadband and cloud.
Although urbanization is such as a significant societal change, it was actually only formally added to the international agenda by the UN General Assembly last year, when it was included in the sustainable development goals (SDG) framework as SDG 11.
Since 2014 Ericsson has been working with UN-Habitat, the UN agency tasked with creating a better urban future, in a three-year partnership. The purpose of the partnership is to explore how ICT-enabled solutions for cities can drive progress toward Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11). In joint research and projects, we seek to provide insights to support international processes, such as Habitat III, and assist decision makers to design clear policies and implement tools around ICT’s role in sustainable urbanization. The areas we focus on include IoT, mobile broadband and cloud, and how they can be used in transportation and urban planning, for example.
Today UN-Habitat and Ericsson are launching a report that showcases the potential for ICT to contribute to addressing cities’ challenges. It includes several examples of different approaches spanning from the use of Minecraft in Kirtipur, Nepal, to support urban planning and inclusion, to hackathons that increase citizen participation and IoT support that improves access to water in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.
We are launching the report at an Ericsson-led side event where UN-Habitat and ITU will share their views on the benefits of ICT and recommendations for implementation. Ericsson is represented by Mr. Mario Cardenas, Country Lead, and Mr. Mikael Anneroth of Ericsson Research Sustainability.
In recent years Ericsson has also worked with the ITU and the Broadband Commission to ensure that ICT is in the New Urban Agenda outcome from Habitat III. We want to raise awareness about the role of ICT in measuring progress towards the SDGs.
Yesterday Ericsson was proud to represent the global ICT sector industry organization Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) at a pre-conference event led by the ITU on the subject of how smart cities help support sustainable development in the world. We also shared our experiences on IoT, mobile broadband and cloud at a half-day workshop led by UNDP. During the week we will be at different sessions to show how ICT – if used with the intention to do good – can be part of positive change in society, and how investments in technology for good pay off in many dimensions!
My work at Ericsson with sustainable urban development, among other things, makes me feel like the force for change that I envisioned becoming in my adolescence.