Deep societal changes globally would place increasing pressure on infrastructure, including telecommunications and energy services, said Alcatel-Lucent VP and senior partner of corporate strategy Karl Bream on Monday.
He said that the world was on the cusp of societal change which would see the global urban population grow by 2.3-billion by 2050, as many people migrated to city regions. The urban areas, which would then account for 70% of the world’s population, would consume 75% of the world’s energy and produce 80% of its greenhouse gas emissions.
Ericsson chief technology officier Deon Naidoo added that, despite urban regions only accounting for 2% of the global surface, about 7 500 people were shifting to urban areas every hour.
Bream also noted that the number of people over 60 would triple over the next 40 years, outnumbering those under 15 years of age by 2050.
However, he believed that investment and innovation in a number of spheres would mitigate the changes in a positive way.
These included the development of government policy that is: pro-investment in technology and research and development, particularly in telecommunications, to advance the changes required in infrastructure to support the shifts; improves education, leading to skilled workers, particularly in technical skills; as well as leads to the health of a growing population; human mobility or movements from place to place; and energy efficiency.
Naidoo said that these societal movements made the establishment of “smart cities” essential. A smart city would comprise elements such as smart utilities, buildings, urban planning, mobility, waste management and transport.
He further noted that the world was on the brink of a networked society, starting with the “first wave” of connecting first consumer electronics, followed by networked industries, and a final wave, in which everything that could be connected, would be connected.