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The World Bank Group has partnered with the global mobile network operators representative, GSMA, to harness big data from the Internet of Things (IoT) to unlock new drivers of economic growth.

The initiative seeks to unlock new insights from anonymised data collected by mobile network operators through IoT devices and aggregate data from smartphone use.

It will also call on industry leaders, development partners and governments to work together in building a strong enabling environment for the IoT while protecting personal privacy.

“The mobile network industry provides the connectivity that is essential for countries to unlock new drivers of economic growth, help make the global market system work for everyone, and meet the world’s rising aspirations,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim noted.

“Through this initiative we will partner with the mobile industry to harness IoT, big data and other new technologies to solve the world’s largest challenges.”

According to the Bank, there are more than 3.8 billion unique mobile subscribers in developing countries. In these markets, more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water or electricity. Read more: IoT combines with solar power to change lives across Africa

More connections to IoT

GSMA Intelligence estimates there will be 25 billion connections to the Internet of Things globally by 2025, enabling everything from real-time crop monitoring to water leakage detection.

Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, said: “With IoT and big data, we have the ability to provide insights that can be used across a wide range of applications, from agriculture to environmental protection and beyond. We are pleased to be working with the World Bank on this critical initiative and encourage our operator members globally to join in this effort.”

The initiative calls on mobile operators to use data that they collect through their existing IoT services or through new pilots and partnerships to provide insights and analysis to design and improve projects.

This can potentially boost development outcomes from World Bank Group projects – in the last fiscal year, the institution committed approximately $62 billion for new projects in middle- and low-income countries.

Operators and governments will also benefit from increased use of big data for development, as it can enable better service provision, creation of new indicators and statistics, and better quality of life for users and citizens in general.