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Here are this week’s key ICT trends and insights: Twitter pushes further into live-streaming television with Bloomberg partnership, Bitcoin soars to all-time high as blockchain applications continue to multiply -- and is SoftBank set to invest USD 1.4 billion in India's largest digital-payments provider?

Spotlight

ITU Newsletter
Last week, the world celebrated International Girls in ICT Day. To date, there have been over 240,000 participants in 160 countries. ITU HQ’s event promoted breaking down gender barriers (while having fun!)

ICT Trends

IoT: Investment in 'Internet of Things' startups is starting to mature, with automotive and health tech exceeding projections. More money into fewer companies suggests investor confidence in more established startups. [International IoT Week will take place in Geneva from 6-9 June 2017 - register here!]

Startups in the Middle East: Amazon’s recent acquisition of online retailer Souq.com in a deal worth a reported USD 650 million highlights the potential of MENA’s growing startup ecosystem. High smartphone and broadband penetration, and a young, connected, educated population mean lots of growth potential for significant portions of the region.

'Inclusive e-commerce': Amazon’s India efforts seem to be paying off, but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says it is still early days. Meanwhile, Alibaba’s Jack Ma was in Geneva at an event with ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao last week, highlighting 'inclusive e-commerce' as catalyst for future economic growth. But trust continues to blunt e-commerce growth in key emerging markets, such as Indonesia.  

 

Video content: Twitter this week announced Bloomberg as its first partner in its push into continuous streaming TV. It's the latest example of rapid ICT-media industry convergence in a race to meet the growing demand for video content. Speaking of which, the proposed USD 85 billion mega merger between AT&T and Time Warner now has a stronger chance of approval under the new FCC leadership, which  last week announced that it will revise net neutrality rules. [ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao will meet FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week to discuss a range of issues.]

Blockchain: Bitcoin soared this week to an all-time high above USD 1,400, reflecting growing confidence in the cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, Spotify aquired Mediachain, a blockchain startup that was developing peer-to-peer database technology, to improve its artist attribution. And here are four ways blockchain is helping connect the world’s poorest people to the global economy.   


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

  • Health: Researchers used a smartphone app and wirelessly powered LEDs to control blood sugar levels in mice with diabetes with the tap of a touchscreen. Will this portend a "new era" in personalized medicine?
  • Auto: Elon Musk outlined an alternate solution to ‘noisy’ flying cars - transporting cars on high-speed sledges via a network of underground tunnels. Will city permissions and sky-high costs halt such an initiative before it begins? 
  • Digital payments: SoftBank Group Corp. is in talks to invest roughly USD 1.4 billion in India’s One97 Communications Ltd., the country’s largest digital-payments provider, according to reports. [ITU News recently chronicled how India's low-cost, scalable model for financial inclusion is changing lives on a massive scale.]
  • Satellites: Mongolia launched its first satellite to expand its television, telecoms and broadband services. The launch is part of wider efforts to use technology to diversify their natural resource-dependent economy.
  • Ride-sharing: Didi Chuxing is now valued at roughly USD 50 billion after it closed a record USD 5.5 billion funding, making it the second most valuable startup in the world, behind rival Uber. The company is also synergizing data that it collects to support China’s ‘smart transportation’ initiatives. 

Insights

Smart Cities’ security risks AI and IoT-connected devices have made it possible for cities to increase efficiencies across multiple services like public safety and transport. But Todd Thibodeaux warns that realizing the full potential of these digitally connected communities relies on implementing robust cybersecurity policies - something that local authorities around the world are learning the hard way. 

AI for science! Machines and artificial intelligence can help advance science, argues Ahmed Alkhateeb. But, he asks, can scientific discovery really be automated? [Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali looks at how AI can help protect human rights, and IT World Canada asks how we will maximize AI for good.

Keep up to date with ITU

UPCOMING EVENTS

- World Telecommunication and Information Society Day; Global, 17 May 2017

- AI for Good Global Summit; Geneva, Switzerland, 7-9 June 2017 

MORE FROM ITU

- New blogs! Read interviews with industry leaders, insights into the latest tech news and other ICT stories from around the world on the ITU Blog

- New videos! On ITU’s YouTube channel

- Read the latest ITU News Magazine here



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