The implications of IoT, Smart Cities, and Automation

After discussions at the Big Data Roundtable as part of The Festival of the Future City, Nick Randall, Sales and Marketing Director at Zeetta Networks, shares his views on developments in Big Data and calls for mechanisms to be put in place that responsibly support the impending social transformation.

The impacts of the present social movement towards a more technological, data driven, and automated landscape and economy are continually being discussed among tech thought leaders, who are not introspectively holed up in a hard drive but concerned social beings! As technologists we can get obsessed with driving innovation, with many striving to contribute to a positive social revolution through technological advances, and here specifically at Zeetta Networks, contributing to the development of smart infrastructure that make peoples’ lives easier and better.

Obviously, we in our industry are aware of the potential negative effects that are inevitable with any inventive and innovative endeavour. We are not blind to the fact that advances in smart infrastructure and technology threaten whole areas of employment. Big Data threatens to take out layers of professions in legal, banking, and property sectors, which we are already witnessing in the traditional erosion of manufacturing jobs with the progression of automation. Just think what driverless vehicles might do.

With this in mind, we at Zeetta Networks are keen to see more leadership on the political level to handle these global changes. Industrial relations are going to need to be handled by all parties much more effectively than the rail strikes in Southern England, for example. In our own industry, we are not blind to that fact that our innovations will lead to layers of technical staff being taken out of organisations.

What I am keen to ask, and have answered is - where are the mechanisms in place to handle this social upheaval responsibly and in a considerate manner? Do we think our political, corporate and industrial leaders are ready for this? Can they effectively manage this social revolution? Probably not.

The proposed answer for this is touted by our industry peers as education and retraining. Currently I don’t see much groupthink from our political, corporate, and labour force leaders on the subject, so where is the strategic vision and leadership going to come from?

Is it ludicrous to posit the idea of a social tax akin to the model we have adopted regarding carbon emissions and carbon tax? At least with “carbon tax” we have a framework to discuss the issue i.e. global warming.

Ultimately, we need to take these discussions happening all over the world, ironically most likely on our smart phones and via SDNs, to the next level so we can actively begin to put together frameworks to approach this looming social transformation.

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