How Will Southwestern Ontario be Affected by the Connected Life?

The SWIFT team recently came across a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which was commissioned by the Groupe Special Mobile Association (GSMA) titled “Connected Life – The impact of the connected life over the next five years.”

“Now, a new wave of connectivity is on the horizon where everyone and everything around us that might benefit from a wireless connection will, in fact, have one. We are about to see connected cars, buildings, medical monitors, TVs, game consoles and a whole range of connected consumer electronics and household appliances. Many of these will be connected wirelessly and intelligently, communicating and interacting with each other, thereby creating the connected life,” says the Ericsson Mobility Report.

The GSMA report focuses on how the advancement of mobile technology will affect people’s lives with regards to four different categories: Education, Health, Smart Cities, and Automotive. The report is quite extensive, so browse the headings below for some highlights of each category.


Over the next five years, 1 billion students are expected to enroll in primary education systems, and over 220 million are expected to drop out. An estimated additional 290 million primary graduates will not attend secondary school.

About half of drop outs are between grades three and six, and many of them occur because of the lack of access to affordable, quality schooling. Even during the 2011 recession in the US, there were 1 million unfilled job positions because of the lack of skilled labourers.

The expected increase in mobile usage will extend the boundaries of mobile learning, retaining up to 1.8 million students in the education system across developed nations by 2017, and give access to 180 million students around the world. Korea and Denmark are spearheading the mobile learning initiative, aiming to offer mobile education access to all students by 2015, and Turkey is looking to distribute over 15 million tablets to students by 2016.


Every year in Africa, 3 million people die of either tuberculosis (TB), malaria, HIV/AIDS, or pregnancy-related complications. The report found that simple mobile intervention programs show great potential to save lives, and through further development could save more than 1 million lives in Sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years.

A perfect example is the SIMpill, which is a medication management program that detects when a user is not sticking to their medication regime. The users were reminded to take their medication via SMS reminders. In a TB trial, the program showed 94% compliance and a 92% cure rate.

On average, OECD countries spend about $6 trillion (US) on healthcare every year. With mobile technology advancing, the report suggests that healthcare costs in these countries could be cut by $400 billion by 2017. Remote living assistance, home monitoring, and electronic access to health records will go a long way in saving healthcare costs. We saw a perfect example of this recently in Southwestern Ontario when GBHS announced they were expanding their IT department to service up to two million patients.

Smart Cities  

The top 15 market cities in the world account for 250 million people, and well over half of them spend an average of 90 minutes commuting every single day. There’s no doubt that public transit needs to be improved in major urban centres around the world. Programs like mobile payment and mobile scheduling are necessary to streamline the daily process of commuting via public transit. If wait times and traffic congestion is improved, it will encourage people to leave the car at home.

The report suggests that major urban centres could reduce CO2 emissions by 27 million tonnes annually with the use of mobile technology. Over 16 billion trees would be needed to offset the CO2 emissions in the top 50 OECD cities.

Smart metering in homes is another way that energy and money is being saved. Smart metering allows for two way communication between the home and service provider, so data about water, gas, and energy usage can be gathered to establish more efficient practices. There are over 7 million homes with smart meters in Canada, and in the UK, 100% of the homes will have smart meters by 2020.


Over 18 million deaths occur every year in the developing world due to malnourishment-related conditions. You would think that this malnourishment is mostly due to a lack of food in specific regions, but that’s actually not the case. The truth is that 40% of food produced in the developed world is wasted, and the majority of the wasting occurs at the food management and transportation stages. Over 240 million tonnes of food is wasted due to poor infrastructure – this amount could feed 400 million people every year.

Thanks to global mobile networks, food production companies are now finding easier and faster ways to optimize travel times, monitor food storage environments, monitor vehicle conditions, and observe driver behaviour and practices.

The report predicts that in the next five years, mobile advancements will allow the automotive industry to cutback between 10% and 15% of wasted food, saving approximately 25 million tonnes, which is enough to feed roughly 40 million people.

With all these predictions, we can’t help but wonder how Southwestern Ontario will be affected by the connected life. Will the regions be able to keep up with the rest of the world without a fibre-optic internet connection?

For more information about how our lives will become more connected over the next five years, read the full report.