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Smart cities in Asia are a necessity, not a luxury

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In the third post of our blog series celebrating Mobile World Expo in Shanghai last week, we’re exploring the role that M2M communications has to play (and will continue to play) in the Asia Pacific region.

In the near future, everyone will be dealing with enormous quantities of data from all areas of industry and life – from energy supplies via healthcare to smart cities and the connected home. M2M (machine to machine) is one of the developments that drives exponential data growth around the world, known widely as the ‘big data trend’.

According to the GSMA this year, Asia is the largest regional M2M market accounting for 42% of global M2M connections, followed by Europe (28%), North America (18%), Latin America (8%), Africa (4%) and Oceania (1%). The increase in M2M connections has seemed to be stronger over the last three years — this is partly due to growth in China, the world’s largest mobile market, and now the single largest M2M market too.

With land masses like Australia, China and India hosting huge clusters of people in certain areas, but wide expanses of nothing in the rest, M2M has an important role to play in the protection of isolated individuals through mHealth. Data used to monitor heart rates and insulin levels, for example, can quite literally save lives when examined by local medical practitioners, able to consult expert doctors hundreds of miles away if necessary.

In Asia, like in the United States, healthcare is also likely to be a powerful M2M business driver. US health insurers have already realized that remote patient diagnosis by means of telemedicine and M2M-assisted prevention programs will reduce costs in the long term. Like healthcare, M2M technology can also be used to monitor the pulse of a large city. The ability to communicate traffic levels and view real time analysis for maintenance and upkeep is of huge value to today’s mega cities.

As recent Frost & Sullivan research on Smart City Solutions in Asia Pacific notes, “Massive expansion of cities driven by urbanization and migration of people from rural areas in several countries in the Asia Pacific region creates mega cities that are beset with environmental issues, resource management concerns and pressure on infrastructure.”

Population control is crucial to the sustainability and controlled growth of already developed cities, coupling complex transport systems with council planning and waste management. With over seven billion people on the planet, there could be 20 billion devices connected in the near future, making M2M a strong growth area across the globe, but especially in the population dense countries found in Asia. For more on how we think we can tap into this field, follow us @Gemalto_Asia or #GemaltoMAE to hear more about what was discussed at Mobile Asia Expo on this topic.

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