Economic opportunities of emerging technologies identified at ITU global statistics symposium

The economic opportunities of innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and smart data for smart sustainable cities were recognized this week in Hammamet, Tunisia at the 15th edition of the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators Symposium (WTIS‐17) — the main international forum for telecommunication and information society measurements worldwide. Symposium participants included key ICT stakeholders from around the globe representing governments, telecommunication regulatory authorities, national statistics offices, private companies and research institutions.

“We are very pleased to host WTIS-17 in Tunisia this year,” said H.E. Dr Mohamed Anouar Maarouf, Minister of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy of the Republic of Tunisia. “ICT statistics are key to countries' development. In Tunisia, for example, we propose to strengthen training programmes on statistical indicators to better respond to the needs and expectations of developing countries.”

“Information and communication technologies are driving global development in an unprecedented way, providing huge opportunities for social and economic development,” said Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General. “WTIS-17 was held after the successful completion of the World Telecommunication Development Conference where participants adopted a forward-looking agenda to advance the use of ICTs to achieve the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. The debates and discussions that took place at this Symposium will also go a long way to unlock the potential of ICTs for development.”

WTIS‐17 featured a high-level panel that discussed the importance of data in creating a healthy investment environment, especially in developing countries. Other sessions at WTIS-17 focused on key topics such as: new metrics for broadband and cybersecurity; new data needs for the digital economy, ICT skills, e-waste, and tracking Big Data; as well as innovative technologies, including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and smart data for smart sustainable cities.

Mr Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT), said that, “WTIS-17 reinforced the importance of good data on current and emerging technologies and its role in creating economic opportunities.” He added that, “During the Symposium, participants highlighted that collaboration across sectors was equally important for the adoption of metrics measuring different areas that impact everyday life.”

During WTIS, ITU released the 2017 edition of highly anticipated annual flagship statistics publication, the Measuring the Information Society report, which features the ICT Development Index (IDI), the global benchmarking tool that tracks countries' progress in the development of their information societies. The IDI 2017 ranked 176 economies globally based on official, internationally comparable statistics.

The Symposium also featured a tutorial on data visualization and Big Data analysis tools, demos on crowdsourcing ICT data, and lightning talks on the collection of ICT statistics and work on the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development.

WTIS-17 also adopted the work of the Expert Group on Telecommunication/ICT Indicators and the Expert Group on Household Indicators.

The Symposium was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Tunisia and chaired by H.E. Mr Habib Debbabi, Secretary of State for the Digital Economy.

First held in 1996, and annually since 2005, WTIS has evolved to become the main global forum for telecommunications and information society measurement. The event provides a unique platform for ICT data users and producers to meet and share knowledge and best practices, identify business opportunities and enhance cooperation.

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