The Mobile World Congress which is one of the most important global events in mobile technology and innovation that supports the UN SDGs has announced a partnership with the World Bank to improve development through Big Data.

The MWC venue in Barcelona

The 2018 edition of the Mobile World Congress (MWC), which took place last week in Barcelona, has reached remarkable results. Gathering more than 107,000 participants and 2,400 companies who exhibited their devices and business solutions, the event is known for the new technologies that are yearly presented to the general public. From self-driven cars to smartphones, and from smart homes to drones, everything seems to gravitate around electronics and software.

But there’s more to this than meets the eye. Last year, the GSM Association, representative of the mobile operators and organizer of the MWC, launched the initiative Big Data for Social Good, which gathers now 19 companies and foundations committed to supporting developing countries, foster education, improve the conditions of refugee camps and encourage startups that develop solutions to empower minorities.

This year, the MWC social good project took another step forward. With the motto of Creating a Better World, the 2018 edition heavily supported the Sustainable Development Goals. The GSMA partnered with Barcelona artists to illustrate the unique role Mobile is playing in supporting the SDGs and created visual characters to represent the mobile industry impact in supporting each one of the goals. The audience had the opportunity to learn about the SDGs and to know the role of the mobile industry to reach every one of them.

During the event, GSMA announced a partnership with the World Bank to leverage Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to communities and countries in need, fighting poverty and enhancing economic development. «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», said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, praised the initiative and made a call for more stakeholders of the mobile industry to do more against poverty. He particularly mentioned the impact of the 5G implementation, planned to start in the US and China by the end of the year, on improving people’s lives. «We must ensure it will create new markets and jobs for the poorer countries. It’s urgent to rethink tech and connectivity roles and how they will create new drives of economic development», he said.

During the many conferences dedicated to the impact of technology on society, companies showcased projects and strategies to improve connectivity and inclusion through technology. Vodafone Foundation, for example, is installing emergency wifi networks in refugee camps and in areas affected by natural disasters. Oisin Walton, programme manager for the Foundation, showcased an education project that started in the Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya, which consists of a digital classroom that is now spread to 31 schools in 4 countries. The project is a result of a partnership with the UNHCR. «There’s a huge potential to do things together. We believe in innovation as a combination of partnership models and technology solutions», he stated.

Many other companies focused on including and empowering impaired people, like MJN Neuroserveis, which developed a device that predicts an epilepsy seizure 1 minute before it happens, Wayfinder, an audio solution with geolocalization for blind people, and Iris Bond, which helps paralyzed patients to communicate through their eyes.

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