Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele has said that government may need to soften its regulations for the ‘Internet of things’ to assist in service delivery.
The ‘Internet of things’, or ‘IoT’, has become a buzz phrase in technology circles in recent years as it refers to connecting everyday objects such as fridges and even cars to computer networks.
And Cwele – who on Monday was speaking at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (Satnac) in George – said that IoT needed to be embraced.
“The Internet of things is a huge driver of the fourth-industrial revolution. This revolution will bring enormous benefit to those we will harness it, while punishing those who choose to ignore it or resist it,” he said.
“This will require government to adopt softer regulations and adopt these new technologies to improve service delivery through the Internet of things. Businesses must also adapt or die,” Cwele said.
He added that the Internet of things could further aid in better service delivery.
“It brings more transparency because citizens will know exactly what is happening and we are also happy that it will yield more jobs,” he said.
Cwele also said that IoT may help to empower citizens more.
“It will not only change what we do but also what we are. It will change our consumer patterns and even our notions of privacy and ownership. It will reduce our privacy, but it will allow citizens to engage rather than just being recipients,” he said.
“We hope this conference will prepare us to fully exploit the Internet of things for the benefit of government, business, society and indeed all of our people,” Cwele said.
In an interview with Fin24 on Monday, Cwele also said that the Internet of things required highly skilled people to become innovators.
“South Africans have a lot of potential. I believe we need to change the way we do business and we will become more competitive globally,” he told Fin24.
Satnac 2016 is centred around “Broadband Evolution – Unlocking “The Internet of Things” and the Internet working of physical objects with people.
The Satnac event is hosted by Telkom and sees African information and communications technology (ICT) specialists, students and government representatives gather for a three-day conference to discuss trends and developments in the industry.
Satnac originally started in 1998 to provide a platform for ICT postgraduate students to showcase their research but has since become a platform of discussion for those in the industry.
The conference will run until Wednesday.