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Welcome Remarks - Internet of Things Asia Pacific Summit

Speech by Malcolm Johnson, ITU Deputy Secretary-General

Welcome Remarks - Internet of Things Asia Pacific Summit

23 September 2017, Bangkok, Thailand


Good morning, everybody and let me add my welcome.

Today, ITU is partnering with the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity and Forum Global to launch this new Internet of Things Summit for the Asia-Pacific region.

It is an honour to have the Secretary General of the APT here with us today, Mrs. Areewan Haorangsi. And I’m happy to see so many representatives of different IoT stakeholder communities, all together in the same room. I am also grateful to our partners and supporters including the Australian Government, who have helped make this Summit possible, and especially our host the Thai Ministry of Digital Economy and Society.

There are widely varying predictions of the number of billions of devices that will be connected within the next few years, but what will be the most interesting thing about the Internet of Things isn’t really the number of billions of devices that will one day soon be ‘talking’ to one another, but the impact on the ‘connected person’ that will be the focus of this ‘conversation’? What will be important is that this technology brings with it an improvement in people’s lives, all over the world, not just in urban areas but all the rural communities.

Today, a vision is taking shape around the world of people being connected across smart cities, smart buildings and smart cars.
For the last two days, at the ITU Smart Cities and e-Government Forum we’ve seen the enthusiasm with which countries are moving to harness this potential. And the exhibition upstairs showcases many examples here in Thailand.

The importance of sustainable smartness is well recognized in ITU.
Following the success of the Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities, we have established a new Study Group dedicated to “IoT and its applications including Smart Cities and Communities” (ITU-T Study Group 20).

But the Internet of Things has been integral to ITU’s work for a long time, long before the term “IoT” became a catchphrase.
ITU’s core function is to harmonize the global use of the radio frequency spectrum, and adopt the international standards that will ensure interoperability and international interconnectivity. This has the added advantage of creating a global market reducing costs through economies of scale.

At lot of the technical work in ITU is carried out by our industry members (over 450) and we now have research institutes and universities also participating. We are about to start a trial to encourage and facilitate the participation of startups and small companies in our work, at a much reduced fee.

One of ITU’s objectives is to foster an environment where all stakeholders can participate in our work and benefit from the results.

ITU is working on the requirements for fifth generation mobile, 5G (which is referred to in ITU as IMT-2020), for the radio elements as well as the fixed network elements. The global spectrum allocations for 5G will be adopted at the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2019, although the preparatory work has been underway for some time. 

As you would imagine, the requirements to be met relate to the radio interface and the network, to increase data rates, enhance reliability, lower latency, improve energy efficiency, and enhance privacy and security. This is challenging since it means creating the right enabling environment meeting several needs which are sometimes conflicting, such as open access, privacy, security, trust, the legal and commercial requirements.

It will necessitate close cross-sectoral collaboration in the area of policy, regulation, legislation and standardization at the global, regional and national level. It will require a level of collaboration between all the different actors that we have never seen before. So it is important that we open new lines of communication, work to understand one another’s priorities and requirements, and define new modes of collaboration. This is why this new IoT summit is important. It will explore new ways and relationships between different stakeholders and players in the Asia-Pacific region, that will be needed to ensure IoT meets its full potential.

Only by working together can we develop a better secure, interoperable IoT ecosystem -- one that will build trust and confidence in the technology, bring the maximum possible value out of our-fast growing wealth of data, and open up a new world of possibilities for improving people’s lives everywhere.

We are fortunate to have so many expert speakers and moderators with us, my thanks to them, so I am sure this summit will be very informative, productive and enjoyable.

Thank you.