EghtesadOnline: With the world on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, Iran’s ICT minister urges all, citizens and authorities alike, to take note of the situation and keep pace with the universal technological transformation before the country is marooned in the past.
In an op-ed for Shargh Daily published on Saturday, Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi describes what the fourth industrial revolution means, calling on readers to employ an agile approach to technology and embrace the new products and services offered by smart technologies.
From the start of the 21st century, the fourth industrial revolution has been constantly and progressively blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. The revolution is marked by the onset of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and blockchain, according to Financial Tribune.
In his piece, Azari-Jahromi poses a question to the readers, “Do we watch silently as the world transforms, or do we embrace change and utilize its benefits to realize our goals?”
The minister responds to his own rhetorical question, saying if a nation fails to join the rapidly shifting landscape, they will see development efforts suffer a major setback and the country become irrelevant on the international stage.
According to the official, resistance to change is futile and the most vital thing for Iranians is to adapt to the changing times and employ technology in all aspects of their lives.
Cutting red tape, changes in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, preserving natural resources and the environment, mitigating costs and giving the public easy access to services are some of the requirements and advantages of this new era.
To this end, Azari-Jahromi proposes a step-by-step process which can aid the country down the path to an IT infrastructure transformation.
The first step toward an evolved society is informing the public about the possibilities smart technologies offer and their applications in real life.
The minister places a higher emphasis on supplying information to the people than to government officials as he firmly believes in bottom-up reform.
The second step is to increase the authorities’ literacy with regard to technologies. Azari-Jahromi maintains, “Some senior officials and mid-level managers still refuse to accept the digital revolution, and they have various reasons for it.”
According to the minister, some only perceive the negative impact that the changes can entail and they are of the opinion that the new developments have the potential to cut their revenue, increase foreign influence on domestic affairs or can lead to data breaches.
To remove obstacles, Azari-Jahromi writes it is of paramount importance to promote literacy on the matter as fast as possible as the short window of opportunity to join the global trend is closing.
As access to high-speed Internet is the prerequisite for the vision pursued by the minister, the department under his watch is on a fast track to provide Iranians with speedy landlines services and fourth generation mobile phone technology, both in urban and rural areas. The ministry is pushing ahead with a scheme to connect all villages with more than 20 households to at least one of the aforementioned services.
In 2017, Iran’s average mobile Internet speed increased by 36% compared to the year before, reaching 16.74 Mbps. Moreover, he has forged agreements with other state bodies and ministries as per which veteran top-level officials are to be familiarized with modern technological advancements in their field of activity.
Municipalities in various cities are also exploring ways to transform the cities under their management into smart cities.