“There are two facts I want to share with you: digital is here to stay and no industry is immune to digitisation.” This is how Telkom’s managing executive for its Solutions Business, Tony De Sousa began his keynote at My World of Tomorrow this morning.
As he explains it, many African companies are focused on only one aspect of digitisation, be it big data, mobile, social media, machine to machine communication or cloud services. Many international companies, however, like Google, Facebook and Amazon use a variety of these services to bring something De Sousa describes as “Ambient Intelligence” to its users.
Described in its simplest form, ambient intelligence is when an app like Google Now suggests restaurants you may like according to previous searches you’ve done, or Facebook serving up specific ads based on your activity on the platform.
During the keynote De Sousa posited the idea of an eCitizen platform based on ambient intelligence. Just as Google and Facebook utilise multiple platforms to better serve users, government could better serve citizens with similar implementations.
“Right now you may have to go through several [government] departments to find the right one, and if you eventually do that department might not have the correct paperwork you need. Users want to do things online because it’s just easier”, De Sousa remarked.
A unified platform that would bring scattered departments together under a single umbrella may be able to better serve citizens in this connected age by creating a constant dialogue between parties.
Applications that could identify crime hot spots in real time or adaptive traffic lights to help traffic flow more easily based on road conditions all become a reality when digital platforms are fully explored and understood.
This will take work, of course, and government actually choosing to create a platform like this, but as we push toward creating smart cities and connecting everything to everything, platforms that help us interact with those cities and their structures need to be created sooner rather than later.