Albert Gea / Courtesy Reuters A man walks past a stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 27, 2012.
Foreign Affairs From The Anthology: The Fourth Industrial Revolution
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The Future of Cities

The Internet of Everything will Change How We Live

As much as the Internet has already changed the world, it is the Web’s next phase that will bring the biggest opportunities, revolutionizing the way we live, work, play, and learn.

That next phase, which some call the Internet of Things and which we call the Internet of Everything, is the intelligent connection of people, processes, data, and things. Although it once seemed like a far-off idea, it is becoming a reality for businesses, governments, and academic institutions worldwide. Today, half the world’s population has access to the Internet; by 2020, two-thirds will be connected. Likewise, some 13.5 billion devices are connected to the Internet today; by 2020, we expect that number to climb to 50 billion. The things that are—and will be—connected aren’t just traditional devices, such as computers, tablets, and phones, but also parking spaces and alarm clocks, railroad tracks, street lights, garbage cans, and components of jet engines.

All of these connections are already generating massive amounts of digital data—and it doubles every two years. New tools will collect and share that data (some 15,000 applications are developed each week!) and, with analytics, that can be turned into information, intelligence, and even wisdom, enabling everyone to make better decisions, be more productive, and have more enriching experiences.  

And the value that it will bring will be epic. In fact, the Internet of Everything has the potential to create $19 trillion in value over the next decade. For the global private sector, this equates to a 21 percent potential aggregate increase in corporate profits—or $14.4 trillion. The global public sector will benefit as well, using the Internet of Everything as a vehicle for the digitization of cities and countries. This will improve efficiency and cut costs, resulting in as much as $4.6 trillion of total value. Beyond that, it will help (

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