The next tech tide

Technological breakthroughs taking place globally are also expected to transform social, cultural and economic interactions in Tehran in the coming decade.

Nobody saw how a simple application like Telegram would upend several events and fields, including news, elections and industries.

Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging service accessible through both mobile (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Ubuntu Touch) and desktop systems (Windows, OS X, Linux). Users can send messages and exchange photos, videos, stickers and files of any type.

With the advent of the Telegram app, people no longer read regular websites and are using groups and channels to attain their news. Subgroups have also had an impact on how people respond to work situations.

Telegram also influences public behavior and its Iranian groups and channels are believed to have helped the different parties push their agendas forward in the parliamentary elections held in February.

Again, this week, the app was used to rally people to vote in runoff elections for candidates supportive of both parties.

Earlier this week, Financial Tribune reported about “The Things Network”, basically a new type of WiFi that covers the city and can be used to report things to the general community. Much like a social network, this new city-region wide service could radically transform how people act and work in the next few years.

But moving beyond apps, and as the future changes how people react and interrelate, what could we have in store inside the Islamic Republic as we move forward and the Internet of Things takes over?

IoT is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

Automated Driving

Globally, the automotive industry is in real flux. Several carmakers have panicked at the emergence of new transport players such as Uber’s car hailing app and Tesla’s electrical engines.

Ford, GM and several other carmakers have doubled down to understand the future trends in the global car purchasing and renting industry.

Iran will likely follow suit, whether Iran Khodro gets a grip of this or a private player trumps them in offering subscription-based automated driving services.

Currently the Iranian automotive industry probably does not have plans in place when the changing transport dynamics knocks on Tehran’s door.
But, over the next 10 years, successive administrations will have to focus on offering a new type of service to lower the mortality rate on the country’s roads.

Ultimately, IoT will come to Tehran’s roads and the country will be a whole lot safer for it.

Mass Incident Reporting

As the “The Things Network” spreads its wings in Tehran and other Iranian cities, the full scope of a citywide WiFi Internet services is going to make Telegram look like the original Telegram.

Already, TTN is radically changing the way some countries, like the Netherlands, use the Internet. So far, from the initial results of the service, crime rates in areas under TTN coverage are falling as communities embrace it. Being locked away in an office or apartment is no longer an issue.

In the example of Tehran, services like Google’s traffic reporting app are already overhauling how people commute around the city. The system works in a way that as many Android phones huddle together–probably due to traffic–a red light shows up for the Google Maps’ image of Tehran.

This coupled with a driverless solution may make getting around this city of 12 million people entirely refreshing.

In addition, social applications related to pollution monitoring are already having an impact on how people view the city and the younger generation becoming determined to reduce their carbon footprint and lower air pollution.

Digital Governance

The Iranian government has already set the ball rolling on e-governance, with services like bank transactions and filing of tax returns now mostly digitized.

This is most probably phase one of its master plan. As more people use mobile technology to go about their daily business, e-government will play a much larger role.

This is of benefit to the government, as they can finally downsize operations, close offices and relieve inefficient workers, slashing their budgets in turn.

The ultimate e-government initiative will come when everyone’s national ID details and cards are integrated into one digital document, an initiative that has been set into motion in a haphazard manner.

Digital voting is expected to streamline the electoral process and end any speculation of misuse. The cost efficiency of this would also benefit the government’s coffers.

Artificial Intelligence and Bots

It hasn’t really been an issue yet, but as some western and Chinese bloggers have debated, the role of “Bots” will become larger over the next decade.  Already services like Skype, owned by Microsoft, are offering the chance to put artificial intelligence to the test with picture guessing games.

Telegram, too, has also been spearheading the use of bots in their service. Several companies are using bots as a new form of interface to deal with the general populace.

Although the number of bots in the Persian language remain less than a dozen currently, the Iranian coding community will lead the way in this over the next decade—no doubt.

What will this mean to the average user? Well, you will now be dealing with an artificial intelligence and no longer a tired underpaid employee who is impatient to get off on the other end of the phone.

There will be protests from the current service center employees who would be laid off, as stated in several World Economic Forum papers, and the shock to the dwindling service sector workforce will be hard.

Employers, on the other hand, will love AI services, as they can lower their costs by about 70% at first count.

With Iran’s take-up of technological services, it is not unlikely that we will be seeing these services coming from the private sector and being adopted by proactive government agencies in the following years.

By Financial Tribune