Latin America advancing in connected society initiatives

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The world is approximately halfway through the process of heading towards a connected society and Latin America is not far behind the most developed countries, Eduardo Griffa, Ericsson's (Nasdaq: ERIC) customer unit principal for Southern Latin America, told BNamericas.

Speaking at a recent press event, Griffa said that the inflexion point of when the world started connecting not only people but devices and things began around 2001-02.

"We're not talking about very precise estimations here, but we ought to be around halfway in the adoption period. There are already a lot of initiatives and things happening," Griffa said.

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Ericsson has been often cited for its prediction that there will be 50bn connected devices in 2020, of which 5bn will be in Latin America.

When referring to connected devices, the company means not only mobile phones and laptops but smart electricity meters, connected cars, homes, security cameras and other devices falling under the category of the emerging machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

Compared with countries like South Korea and Singapore, Latin America is not light years behind, Griffa said.

"I would say that Latin America is doing quite well in terms of maturity. It has moved forward in terms of [having skilled telecom] labor and been able to take advantage of its investments. We're as good as anyone else with networks we have today," he said.

"Maybe we're a year behind [the most developed nations]. But there are increasing groups of young people starting up companies, creating applications."

A recently published networked society index compiled by Ericsson and Arthur D Little - which ranks 25 cities in terms of their capacity to use ICT to benefit their citizens - places Singapore, Stockholm and Seoul at the top of the list while the first Latin American countries - Buenos Aires (13th), São Paulo (15th) and Mexico City (17th) appear mid-table.

The top three stand out for policies and initiatives that help advance social, economic and environmental objectives and make considerable investments in ICT.

Singapore has made a strong move in e-health development and traffic congestion management. Seoul is using ICT for environmental ends.

The study underscores that some cities in the BRIC countries, like São Paulo and New Delhi, have embarked on promising initiatives to close the socio-economic gap.