By Dr Hamadoun Toure, Secretary-General, ITU

The ticking clock has never been louder: lab tests for HIV-positive infants must be delivered to remote African clinics so that the babies can receive crucial medication.

The faster the information arrives, the greater the likelihood of a long and healthy life for the children.

In Zambia, health workers are implementing a pioneering machine-to-machine technology, using SMS messages to leapfrog manual transmission of lab results, which are often hampered by great distances and poor roads.

An action that could once take weeks is now virtually immediate, boosting the odds for vulnerable infants.

A vineyard in Galicia, northern Spain, uses sensors several centimetres below the earth to measure humidity, automatically activating the irrigation system should the soil be too dry.

In the United States, a shopper at a major retailer puts a last-but-one item into their basket – and barcodes on the shelf signal manufacturers to order more stock.

Smart parking meters installed on the congested streets of Lebanon will allow drivers to locate empty parking spaces and pay by SMS in line with availability and demand.

Around the globe, similar M2M advancements are revolutionising sectors from agriculture to energy, education to health, government services, and transport.

While technology usage is soaring in lesser-developed regions like Sub-Saharan Africa, I believe the international community must still do whatever it can to ensure that all the world’s people have access to life-altering technologies.

In the meantime, the ITU is working to help the development of M2M by new Internet of Things standardisation initiatives.

“Today, the mobile phone is no longer a tool of luxury,” said Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications of Ghana, in a recent interview with ITU. “It has now become very critical.”

Ghana is one of the many countries showcasing talent, technology and investment opportunities with a National Pavilion at the upcoming ITU Telecom World 2012 event in Dubai, 14-18 October.

Hosted by the Government of the United Arab Emirates, ITU Telecom World 2012 draws on the unique reach and scale of ITU as the lead UN agency on ICT issues in order to help foster a global technology environment that benefits all people.

That is one of the goals of ITU Telecom World 2012, an ICT showcase and forum that brings together hundreds of thought-leaders from public and private sector groups around the globe.

Participants will gather in Dubai to discuss a wide array of issues, including leadership and innovation, smart applications, cybersecurity, and future networks that will provide reliable and equitable access to technologies for all global citizens.

ITU Telecom Word 2012 is a global platform for knowledge exchange. It is the rare forum where, for example, a research and development guru from the developed world can meet a telecoms regulator from Africa, gaining fresh insight into different operating environments.

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