Concrete examples of ‘shaping an interconnected world’

This week world leaders will gather in Hamburg at the G20 (Group of Twenty) summit, the theme of which is, Shaping an interconnected world. A search of G20 news finds plenty of negative headlines, but there are reasons to be cheerful.

The headlines identified by the search were mostly about conflicts among participating nations, protests and everything that could go wrong:

G20 summit 2017: Hamburg poses challenges with protests, policy rows and volatile leaders
G20 stage set for climate change battle
Turkey-Germany relations getting tense ahead of G20
Hamburg readies portable courts for protesters

Negativity is clickbait. As we humans are wired to react to threats, we naturally gravitate to the worst possible ‘what-if’ scenarios. But what if we were to choose instead to focus on what could go right at the summit?

Discussion at the event is aiming to center around three pillars:

  • ensuring stability of the global economy, which includes working toward sustainable global supply chains;
  • promoting environmental sustainability; and
  • accepting responsibility for helping developing nations.

These aren’t just lofty goals. There are plenty of practical examples of organizations making progress in all three areas right here among the TM Forum membership.

Sustainable global supply chains

Communications service providers (CSPs), software and hardware suppliers, digital service providers and others are making significant progress toward developing the new cloud-based platforms and ecosystems needed to support the fast-growing global digital economy.

In July as part of Frameworx Release 17, we’ll publish an information guide called the Digital Platform Reference Architecture Concepts and Principles (IG1157), which explores the digital industry landscape and best practices, analyzes how they can be tuned to the communication industry and provides a blueprint that CSPs and their ecosystem partners can leverage to deliver global communications services. This guide is the result of work in multiple collaboration groups led by companies like AT&T, Ericsson, Microsoft, and many others, and learnings from dozens of Catalyst proof-of-concept projects.

These digital value fabrics (we prefer that term to supply chains because it’s more descriptive, and more accurate) will increase operational efficiency for all partners, reduce energy consumption and enable new, advanced 5G services that promise to dramatically improve quality of life for people in developed and developing nations.

Promoting environmental sustainability

TM Forum members have conducted many Catalyst projects demonstrating ways to make communities smarter, greener and more livable. One multi-year project led by Orange, Esri and Infonova began by looking at the infrastructure necessary to implement a smart energy ecosystem, such as smart meters and customer and fault management systems. Later the team added mobility and electric vehicle charging to home energy management, showing how energy usage could be adjusted automatically when the consumer leaves the home.

During the most recent version of the Catalyst called Connected citizen: Life in a green, clean smart city, the team developed a platform for a smart city ecosystem using DPRA principles which it intends to commercialize.

Another recent project called Anything as a service looked at using drones for precision farming. Today farmers typically blanket crops with pesticides, herbicides and fungicides whether they’re all infested with a particular pest or not. Using high-quality drone imaging, farmers can examine their crops remotely and decide precisely where to spray chemicals.

“There’s a very positive social benefit with precision farming,” says Dr. Lester Thomas, Chief Systems Architect, Vodafone Group. “It’s eco-friendly; you’re reducing chemical usage; and you’re increasing the yield of crops.”

Accepting responsibility for helping developing nations

For Orange, delivering smart energy services is part of the company’s focus on sustainability. The company is using what it calls a “Green by Design” strategy to rethink how software code is written and to focus on virtualization and DevOps methodologies. Orange has discovered it can reduce its own energy consumption by up to 40 percent by using software.

The company also is looking at how it might be able to become a utility provider in developing countries in Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, more people have a mobile phone than have access to electricity, so Orange is looking at how the mobile infrastructure there could be leveraged to provide electricity.

Another member, Ooredoo, has been successful in rapidly bringing mobile service to developing nations like Myanmar. Within six months of winning the license to provide service there, the company was able to launch services supporting 5 million customers. This marked the first time Myanmar’s people had access to affordable communications services, as well the first time in the country’s history that access to the internet via a mobile device has been widely available.

So, this week when you’re reading about clashes among protesters in Hamburg or about how Donald Trump once again shoved aside a fellow leader for a photo opp, don’t despair. This isn’t the only place where good collaborative work on shaping a better, interconnected world is happening. It’s happening everywhere – even in Hamburg – you just might not hear about it.


    About The Author

    Managing Editor

    Dawn Bushaus began her career in technology journalism in 1989 at Telephony magazine, which means she’s been writing about networking for a quarter century. (She wishes she didn’t have to admit that because it probably gives you a good idea of how old she really is.) In 1996, Dawn joined a team of journalists to start a McGraw-Hill publication called, and in 2000, she helped a team at Ziff-Davis launch The Net Economy, where she held senior writing and editing positions. Prior to joining TM Forum, she worked as a freelance analyst for Heavy Reading.

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