Can the Internet of Things (IoT) End Violence?
A Minor Revelation in Discussing Uganda with Google's Eric Brewer
By: Roger Strukhoff
Aug. 26, 2014 02:45 PM
Violence is the great disruptor, the great destroyer of people, nations, and hope.
Some places on earth, say Somalia, are simply off-limits to outsiders and practically uninhabitable to those having to live there. Others, say Democratic Congo or Iraq, are perilous enough to defy rational investment. Others, say Syria or Ukraine or perhaps Egypt, are being disrupted enough by violence to make investors and certainly visitors back away.
The spectrum continues; through a wide variety of developing nations, then through the "safe" developed world. Although the largest of the developed nations, the United States, certainly has its own serious issues with violence, bad news from developing nations such as Kenya and the Philippines, as magnified by television and reverberated through the Web's echo chamber, often make things seem worse than they are.
Unlikely, or Inevitable?
But it can be difficult to get companies and individuals seeking new markets, sources, locations, and investments to consider more "dangerous" places.
How stunned was I, then, a few months ago when I was discussing with Google VP of Infrastructure Eric Brewer the presence of a company Project Link center center in Kampala, Uganda. This nation comes up in our research as the most dynamic of African nations-not the most developed, certainly, but the one that has the potential to change for the better the most quickly.
How prescient of Google to see this as well. How inevitable great technological strides may be for all the nations of the world.
In Asia, Thailand continues to do relatively well, despite its ongoing spasms of violence, and the Philippines is quite dynamic, the occasional disturbing headline be damned.
In Latin America, Honduras was among the more dynamic countries in 2012, but has been falling off. Mexico has been a steady underperformer, although I think a deep analysis of the data will show longstanding structural problems more than violence as a cause for its mediocre performance.
The United States steadily underperforms as well, perhaps partly skewed by its militaristic nature, while peaceful Canada, with low violence but a lot of political ennui, is hanging tough as a global leader overall.
We also believe that the effect of violence on a society's growth and its investment potential shows up in the factors that we do measure. A nation's existing and growing ICT infrastructure will suffer if ugly violence is impinging significantly on it.
On the Wane, Not Gone
Yet violence continues to plague mankind in all corners of the world. Lowered perhaps from olden dayes, but still a carbuncle on societal growth and the potential for a peaceable world.
So how can the IoT lower violence and change perceptions? The key is turning massive data capture into actionable information and wisdom in a transparent way. When everyone can see what's going on, civil behavior increases and violence declines.
More on this thought in a later article. Please send me your thoughts.
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