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Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a robot telling you: “Welcome to 2030!”

Thierry Joachim, General Manager IRISnet
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Thierry Joachim

2030 is not that far away. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what your daily life will look like?

You will no longer have to close your eyes to hear a robot or any other form of artificial intelligence welcome you or offer help. This type of welcome will have become commonplace in our daily lives, as well as in institutions.
Not long after 5G will have proven its worth, 6G will be in the midst of being launched. GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook & Amazon) will own a large part of our data, with infrastructures offering the best security systems. The first driverless cars will hit the road while drones fly over cities delivering packages. Televisions, previously entertainment devices, will have become genuine connected objects of collaboration within households.

Back to 2018. How did we get to this point?

This isn’t about nostalgia. It’s about reflecting on the role of ICT in our lives and the speed of its evolution. Although Chernobyl and the Berlin Wall are the first things that spring to mind when we talk about the 1980s, let us not forget that it was also the decade in which the first personal computers were born, the capacity of which was lower than that of our current USB sticks. And if you wanted to make a call, you had to be at home, often in the living room, stuck within one metre of the telephone as its wire was not much longer.

A few years later, in 1994, the first mobile network made its entrance and the first mobile phones joined our key ring in our pockets.

Once it was clear that the millennium bug wouldn’t bite, the soft noise of digital modems gave way to ADSL, offering new possibilities to households.

In 2007, Apple launched its iPhone with an incredible storage capacity, starting a true revolution.

This progress in the world of mobile telephony led to the availability of personal data anywhere, any time. Electronic data grew exponentially, creating an interest in hosting in secure clouds managed by operators. Over the course of a decade, bandwidth has increased 100-fold and smartphone storage capacity has increased 300-fold. Furthermore, those who have teenagers at home know that social networks have gradually replaced phone calls, and also that for most things “there is a mobile application”. Almost everything can now be done in a few clicks: shopping, banking, booking holidays, reading newspapers, and so on. It took less than 15 years for many services to become digital, allowing a faster daily life, immediate and permanent access to information and greater mobility of people.

There is no denying it, digital transformation is coming about rapidly. It is omnipresent in our daily lives and knocking at public services’ doors. The world around us is constantly changing. The question is no longer whether to change but when and how. If we look at how far we have come since the 1980s and look to the future, it is easy to see that there are many short-term changes laying ahead. The pioneers of this world have not waited for us to evolve, and citizens’ expectations of their institutions will continue to grow.

I regard this development positively.
 
In order to succeed, I strongly believe that the Brussels-Capital Region should take on a federating role initiating large-scale joint projects driven by collaborations between its institutions. These changes require ICT tools and skills. Today, all Brussels institutions have their own IT teams. This model must give way to a skills matrix leading to the creation of skills centres , experience and knowledge that can accompany the hundreds of institutions in their digital migration. IRISnet will continue to provide them with its secure state-of-the-art infrastructure. In the design of the digital architecture of Brussels as a Smart Region in the future,  we, the people, will be key.
 
I therefore advocate a unified regional team, a 20-year global master plan and a transversal ICT support policy.