Connecting Worlds: 
Where new opportunities arise

Devices, states, and people are becoming more intensively connected. In this era of globalization, Data, Logistics, and Community come together to form one large system: An Interconnected Globe. In the process of making new connections and relations every day, opportunities arise. To explore those opportunities the theme of this year IRP is “Connecting Worlds; where new opportunities arise”.   

In today’s digital age, information is bringing change to every corner in the world. Connectivity is the medium through which all information is exchanged. Connectivity enables communication amongst people, it exchanges information between people and machines, and it allows machines to recognize and engage with each other. Connectivity is, in essence, the world’s nervous system, and it is extending across the world to the point where it will soon be ubiquitous. From developed countries to underdeveloped regions; from individuals to enterprises; connectivity can offer unprecedented possibilities.  

With the arrival of the digital economy, the demands placed on connectivity across the world now cover the entire spectrum of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – from basic physiological needs to safety needs, esteem needs, and ultimately self-actualization. For those of us who live in big cities and are totally familiar with a digital lifestyle, even a few hours of disconnection from the Internet can leave us ill at ease. For those trapped in dangerous, life-threatening situations, connection to the outside world means the hope of survival. For those who are living away from their families, connectivity allows them to stay close to their loved ones. And for those living in poverty, connecting is like adding a new organ of sense, one that can “see” more opportunities and pathways to a better life. But as the world grows bigger and we spread further, technology is what keeps the world small.  

The notion of “connectivity” generally refers to developments in the fields of transportation and communication. But in the context of the current global health crisis, connecting with each other across physical and social distances has become a source of increasing interest and concern.  

There are multiple ways in which people, organizations, and countries can be connected and driven by data. Connectivity can be classified into the following 5 components: 

  • Digital connects   
  • Artificial intelligence connects 
  • Information technology connects 
  • Logistics connects  
  • Human connects 

Digital connects 

Data and analytics capabilities have gained a lot of attention in recent years. The amount of available data has grown exponentially, more advanced algorithms have been developed and computational power and storage have consistently been improved. The convergence of these trends has caused the rapid technology advances and business disruptions that are continuously taking place. These large amounts of data give us the ability to create an increasingly connected world. As technology continues to bridge people together, its positive impact on people is visible everywhere. In our streets, in our classrooms, in businesses and in our communities. 

Artificial intelligence connects 
Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere. For example, a robot in a factory, an autonomous car, Google’s AI-powered predictions and face recognition. AI makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. Using AI technologies, computers can be trained to accomplish specific tasks by processing large amounts of data and recognizing patterns in the data.  As the number of sensors, of mobile devices and of interconnected systems increases, so does the proliferation of AI. If we are connected, intelligent software is present in every step that we take. 

Information technology connects 
Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information. IT is closely connected with globalization. Recently, the technology in the areas of telecommunication, computers and internet have been changing rapidly. Telephones and mobiles enable people to instantly communicate in different areas. Meanwhile internet, specifically social media, allows one to share information across the world at almost negligible cost. These technologies transcend borders, making it more accessible to more people. With the proliferation of devices and ever-increasing connectivity more people are able to take advantage of digital learning opportunities and the chance to connect, communicate and collaborate. 

Logistics connects
Supply chains are becoming increasingly internationally oriented. To anticipate this development, China decided to invest massively in infrastructure with its Belt and Road initiative. Likewise, logistics is an important part of the Dutch economy. Partly through the Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport. With logistics being the Dutch strong suit, collaboration on this front between the Netherlands and China will be of key importance to prepare for a strong future. 

Human connects 
Connectivity is not just about machines and sensors. Connectivity is a fundamental human need. People lie at the heart of this technology – designed to extend their dreams, enhance their quality of life, and transform their communication possibilities. As 5G is deployed first in the world’s leading cities, we’ll see a staggering leap in the connectedness of gadgets, processors, street lights, doors, manufacturing systems, mail and package delivery, medical devices, cars and scooters – everything will be connected in an internet of things tapestry. 
COVID-19 has accelerated this already existing trend, changing how we will live. It creates new priorities in our lives; change how frequently and deeply we connect with friends, family and associates; it will change how we see each other and will create opportunities to fix some of yesterday’s wrongs. 

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