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Information: No Longer for the Privileged Few

by Hu Yoshida on Mar 2, 2012

When I normally think of mobile computing, my first thoughts are usually about the increase in the amount of data that will be generated by the mobile workforce. There will be a tremendous amount of new data generated as the workforce becomes untethered from their PCs and laptops.

During my recent trip to Asia, I had an “a-ha!” moment when I realized how shortsighted my thinking was.

It started with a conversation with Srinath Chakravarthy of the National Institute for Smart Government in India. He told me that internet users require a certain level of sophistication and resources, since you have to have a computer, access to an ISP, along with the knowledge to enter a password, boot up a PC, logon to a website, and surf the web.

None of which is required for a mobile phone.

In India, people who barely have enough food to put on their table have access to a cell phone. This is a whole new population of information users!

The Indian government is finding ways to use mobile devices to reach this population to deliver life-enriching services and information. While many governments have eGovernment initiatives, mobile devices make the delivery more efficient through mGovernment. Many subsidies are provided to citizens but often times the information is not distributed or they have to travel long distances to a district office to apply, which is costly — mGovernment can push this out to citizens where they live.

Srinath cited a number for the growth of mobile devices in India, which I can’t remember exactly, aside from that it was staggering.

On this trip I also had the opportunity to meet Thillai Raj T. Ramanathan, the CTO of MIMOS (Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems), who told me of the Kampung WiWiTM project, which brings wifi access to the local kampung or villages. This opens up the sharing of information to a whole new population of users in remote kampungs with only a few villagers. MIMOS developed MIMOS WiWiTM, an Outdoor Access Point, which is a wireless router that has the flexibility of backhaul access either wired or wireless. Multicasting and IPv6 provide end-to-end users with fast streaming features of mobility, internet, VoIP, and IPTV. It has centralized administration and updating for all access points without having to physically upgrade each unit manually.

While the first service requested was for entertainment, now local farmers and fishermen can check the markets to get the best prices for their harvest. Think of what this could do if it was available in every country in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. Think of all the good it can do to improve literacy, healthcare, and food supplies, aside from making the mobile workforce more productive.

Mobile devices not only generate more data and make us more productive, it also brings hundreds of millions of new users online.

The information age is no longer just for the privileged few.

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Comments (1)

Webanalyst2020 on 07 Mar 2012 at 2:01 am

Hi Hu,

It would be amazing to see the market trends and usage of mobile phones for internet websites, thereafter we can target the potential customers and build marketing strategy based that.
Analytics tools and google trends can provide us such vital stats.

Mobiles are now handy computers :)


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