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Competence Centre on Foresight

We foster a strategic, future-oriented and anticipatory culture in the EU policymaking process.

Page | Last updated: 18 Mar 2020

Hyperconnectivity & IoT

The unpredictable nature of the uses of new technology in daily life depends to a large extent on the opportunities for social experimentation available to the users most involved. In this context, the trends of hyperconnectivity, computing resources virtualization, mobile communication networks and the digitalisation and connectivity of everything (e.g. Internet of Things - IoT) are already revolutionising the access to knowledge, the nature of work, the ways of production, lifestyles and thinking, inter-relationships, and meanings of freedom, democracy and governance. Health, work, travel, energy and food production, ambient environment—basically our entire system of living and thinking—is undergoing accelerating changes. This constant process is also known as the Digital Transformation of our Society.

  • Hyperconnectivity is expanding fast: more than 4 billion people around the world are using the internet; over 5 billion inhabitants now have a mobile phone (68% penetration); there are 3.2 billion active social media users worldwide—growing at an average of 11 new users per second in 2017. | Related Megatrends: WorkInequalitiesEducationGovernance
  • Computing resources virtualization allows traditional applications to move from user’s limited desktops to the potentially unlimited cloud. High-Performance-Computing benefits have been brought to everybody, directly on their connected devices. Virtualization plays an important role in improving resource efficiency and increasing service reliability and security.
  • The IoT is considered one of the enablers of a hyperconnected society. IoT is an infrastructure connecting the physical and the digital worlds. The IoT could grow from about 9 billion connected devices in 2017 to  some 20-30 billion by 2020 and more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025. In aggregate, investment in IoT will be close to $15 trillion between 2017 and 2025. | Related Megatrends:  WorkInequalitiesSecurity
  • The Web-of-Things (WoT) and Web of Data: IoT suffers from a lack of interoperability across platforms. As a result, developers are faced with data silos, high costs and limited market potential. This can be likened to the situation before the Internet when there were competing non-interoperable networking technologies. WoT aims to confront fragmentation by forming a web-based abstraction layer that is capable of interconnecting IoT platforms, devices, cloud services and standards. WoT is closely coupled to W3C's work on the Web of Data.
  • It is a challenge to prevent technology obsolescence in a hyperconnected society without interfering with technology evolution and business.
  • A sustainable hyperconnected world cannot exist without addressing standardisation and interoperability concerns.
  • The main value of a hyperconnected world is the integration of physical devices’ data into the development of new data-driven services and scenarios, such as transport, eHealth, Industry 4.0 or energy.
  • By 2020, although consumers will continue to represent the largest segment of IoT (some 13 billion units), cross-industry devices are expected to increase to 4.4 billion units and vertical-specific devices to some 3.2 billion units.
  • Hyperconnectivity and the IoT are set to increase considerably, driven by the 5th generation (5G) of communication infrastructure and higher-volume and lower cost devices. By 2025, there could be almost 1.4 billion connections worldwide, up from about 200 million 5G connections in 2021.  | Related Megatrends: GovernanceWorkInequalitiesSecurity
  • At EU level, the 5G Observatory could monitor market developments, including trials and other actions taken by industry stakeholders and Member States in the context of 5G rollout in Europe.
  • A hyperconnected society could rise cybersecurity challenges. New legislative instruments, such as the recent Cybersecurity of 5G networks, are intended to regulate the development of such trend.
  • Quantum information science is likely to represents the "next frontier in the Information Age, the field "to shape the long-term future of information processing”. 
  • Future autonomous robotics, advanced 3D/4D manufacturing, and AI could lead to employment-less economic growth, unless timely preparations. ​| Related Megatrends: WorkInequalitiesGeopowerSecurity

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