ITU releases annual global ICT data & ICT Development Index country rankings

The ITU released their ICT data and country rankings today.

The ITU is the UN agency dedicated to ICT with 190 country members and 700 organizations/corporations. I chatted with their incoming 2015 Secretary General (China-born) Zhao at the United Nations Global e-Government Forum Scientific Practical Conference in October (I chaired and keynoted at the opening session of the GeGF Scientific Practical Conference) and have another one upcoming chat with Zhao in December that will be released as an interview. Big Data was a highlight at the GeGF. At the World CIO Forum two weeks ago in November (I was a WCF vice-chair and chaired / keynoted the opening plenary “dialogue” session with CEOs/CIOs), all the plenary host government, industry, and academia presentations over two days highlighted investments in Big Data, machine learning, deep learning, robotics.

Here are extracts from the ITU report released today:

This year’s report features a special focus on the potential of ‘big data’ from ICT devices and applications to improve public services like healthcare, education and environmental management, with the increasing digitization of human activity making it possible to gather and analyse data from a huge range of disparate sources. Big data from the ICT services industry area already being used to produce large-scale insights of relevance to public policy, such as mapping inequality of income levels (Box 5.1). In the future, big data collection could also provide valuable information for measuring the information society, through analysis, for example, of mobile subscription data to provide mobility profiles and understand the utilization of different kinds of services. ITU is collaborating with the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) and national statistical offices to identify ways of using big data to improve social and economic policy making.

The steadily growing number of Internet users has been reflected in a steep increase in the volume of online content. Social media applications are contributing significantly to driving Internet use, as more and more people create, share and upload content onto social sites. According to the report, a handful of giants have emerged as major global content providers. For example, more than 100 hours of video content are uploaded every minute on YouTube, which is now the world’s largest video file-sharing service with services in 61 countries and over one billion unique visitors every month, while Wikipedia, the largest and most widely used online encyclopaedia, now features over 30 million articles in 287 languages.

Over three billion people are now online and information and communication technology (ICT) growth remains buoyant in just about every country worldwide. Latest data show that Internet use continues to grow steadily, at 6.6% globally in 2014 (3.3% in developed countries, 8.7% in the developing world). The number of Internet users in developing countries has doubled in five years (2009-2014), with two thirds of all people online now living in the developing world. Of the 4.3 billion people not yet using the Internet, 90% live in developing countries. In the world’s 42 Least Connected Countries (LCCs), which are home to 2.5 billion people, access to ICTs remains largely out of reach, particularly for these countries’ large rural populations. In the mobile cellular segment, the report estimates that by end 2014 there will be seven billion mobile subscriptions, roughly corresponding to the total global population.

Encouragingly, the report notes substantial improvements in access to international bandwidth in poorer countries, with developing nations’ share of total global international bandwidth rising from just 9% in 2004 to over 30% today.

Denmark ranked Number One in ITU’s ICT Development Index (IDI)*, a composite measurement that ranks 166 countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills (Chart 1). It is followed by the Republic of Korea.

The IDI top 30-ranking include countries from Europe and high-income nations from other regions including Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Japan, Macao (China), New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. Almost all countries surveyed improved their IDI ranking this year.

In terms of regional comparisons, Europe’s average IDI value of 7.14 remains well ahead of the next best-performing region, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS - 5.33), followed by the Americas (4.86), Asia & the Pacific (4.57), the Arab States (4.55), and Africa at 2.31.

The CIS and the Arab States showed the highest improvement in regional IDI averages over the past 12 months.

By the end of this year, almost 44% of households globally will have Internet access at home, up from 40% last year and 30% in 2010. In the developed world, 78% of households now have home Internet access, compared to 31% in developing countries, and just 5% in the 48 UN Least Developed Countries.

Internet access in schools has made important strides forward over the past decade. In developed countries, the vast majority of schools now have broadband Internet, with many industrialized nations having already reached 100% school connectivity. In developing countries substantial progress has also been made, but access levels vary widely, not just from country to country, but also across different regions within nations.

According to ITU’s sister UN agency the Universal Postal Union, increasing the proportion of post offices offering public Internet services to 45% of all establishments would provide one third of all rural areas and towns worldwide with Internet connectivity.

Broadband prices continue to fall; for the five-year period from 2008-2013 entry-level fixed-broadband prices dropped by 70% globally. Over the same period, the standard entry-level broadband speed has risen from 256kbps to 1Mbps.

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