14/08/20205 Minutes

Global Transitions: Digital Economy, Digital Infrastructure, Connected Communities, Digital Planet

Like the many others who dialled-in to the live discussion which comprised this, the tenth, webinar in the GVF-Satellite Evolution Series , you can enjoy the rare experience of listening to a profoundly important dialogue between representatives of the satellite industry, a research and innovation organisation, and the United Nations Environment Programme. As the video recording shows, these organisations offered significant insights and perspectives into the progressive emergence of a more highly digitised economy, underpinning further development of digital communities, and resting on the foundation of an ever more advanced digital infrastructure. However, as the train of discussion made clear, this is not the limit to the idea of ‘Global Transitions’ and a ‘Digital Planet’. That limit extends to the emerging concept of a “global digital ecosystem”; a concept the genesis of which rendered essential the contribution to this discussion of the United Nations.

The other extent, or point of origin, of the idea of ‘Global Transitions’ in the theme here was in the current disease pandemic. “Lockdown” necessitated digitised ways of working to enable people still to do their jobs. Digitisation may facilitate recovery from economic recession consequent of COVID-19. The corollary to the necessity for greater digitisation is not failing to observe that it is not an end in of itself.

Data – gathered from all conceivable sources by all available technologies and processed by all available tools – maintains financial liquidity in markets, improves creativity in maintaining and evolving supply chains, makes production of “things” more efficient using latest technological advances, makes development of ideas more flexible, and builds more robust cyber security to sit alongside machine learning and AI.

The “product” of this global digital ecosystem will enable more than just the formulation of Actionable Intelligence, but foster a culture of Sustainable Decision-Making that, in the context of trying to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and of trying to stem climate change, will be the indispensable currency of the future Digital Planet.

The dialogue initially examined what it really means to be digitally connected in an urban centre in an industrial region as well as in a remote community in a developing region. The moderator’s questions covered the implications for manufacturing and transport of AI and IoT; societal trends engendered by wireless devices, media consumption, digital payment systems; and national & regional policies affecting ways in which services will be delivered to citizens,

Panellists also provided perspectives about the merging of satcoms with Earth observation and with AI/Machine Learning, relating to the gathering of data and its dissemination as Actionable Intelligence concerning natural resources, water and food security, population demographics and health, etc.

Questions from the audience over the Zoom Q&A function queried the role of the social media companies in using the data/intelligence they gather, not only for their own revenues, but for helping to inform strategic decision-making by governments and by international agencies like those of the U.N. Another audience query asked what the panellists’ thought still needs to be done to guarantee a level of digitized connectivity – in developed and developing economies – to enable gathering of data for the World Economic Forum Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics which are designed to show how companies are doing on climate change action, biodiversity, etc., and track contributions towards the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

This video recording of this discussion is not to be missed if you want to grow your understanding of what the future of the digital Earth may be, how satellites might be contributing to it 10 years from now, and understanding the steps needed now to create a pathway to this future.