2021 is starting out to be pretty similar to 2020 in terms of economic growth (or lack of it) and the global response to the Covid pandemic.
The world economies have been stalling as a result of trade tensions between the USA and a number of nations, principally China, and this has an impact over the ability to fund development of high tech hardware, systems and software and the need of markets to provide demand. This will affect everything from atomic power stations to transport to medical to Internet.
Continuing development of AI is needed to increase flexibility and reduce overall cost
The deskilling of blue-collar jobs will accelerate as nations seek to bring their industries back home. This will be achieved by a combination of AI/robotics to drive up quality and reliability of product, and a sharp reduction in longer term production costs. One major strength coming from robotics will be the rapid ability to re-purpose them for major assembly changes. Another strength will be seamless change of operating between shifts and schedules, allowing a just-in-time response to changes in demand rather than a just-too-late attempt.
Delivery of education and training services will change
The number of people continuing to work and study remotely from home will continue to rise steadily. Gone are the days of large gatherings such as the big conferences and physical training sessions. Organizations are looking more than ever at how to protect their Intellectual Property now it is being accessed outside of the network boundaries and can be more readily shared. Document DRM (Digital Rights Management) will play an important role in defining how content is accessed and used, and how long it is made available for, and exactly who gets to use it.
Provision of access to communications will need more infrastructure
The provision of Internet capacity will need to be increased substantially to match the demand for digital services to try to avoid Internet poverty outside cities. Sir Arthur C Clarke in his “Beyond the global village (1992)” made the point that communications would lead to national revolutions as information/news passed freely - allowing every village to become global. But when rich countries do not have homogenous access to high-capacity broadband what hope is there for poor nations? The onset of the pandemic will push new working practices in working from home that will increase local broadband demand, including demand for conferencing, document sharing (collaboration), DRM protected information sharing, remote access to the workplace, security of connections and authorisation, remote management.
Provision of multi-purpose school IT equipment will need to change
Delivery of education and training materials to students requires something to deliver it to – phone, tablet, laptop, desktop. The most disadvantaged sectors of society face barriers to access education through lack of access to home computing power and there is little thought about the management, distribution and control of services especially in the primary education sector. Equipping schools with ‘loan equipment’ that children can have access to may solve some problems. Pre-configured systems that include DRM protection services simplifies access and use while maintaining control of IPR. Locking DRM controls to specific devices makes it harder to steal IPR and the hardware less attractive to steal because of its ready availability will deny the development of a stolen goods market.
Security demands will change to support larger public infrastructure
As dependence on infrastructure increases so does the need to protect the physical and the logical structures being created. There will develop a need to have a public broadband service offering basic access through public WiFi portals where infrastructure is replicated to provide fault tolerant access. Vandalism against physical public services will be reduced by wireless communications following cell phone mast approaches, but denial of service attacks may be problematic. The incentive for government will perhaps be access to ‘public’ communications so the security of the architecture will of real interest, as will the risk management process.