There are many new technologies emerging as we enter the Digital Decade, and they all have the potential to transform our lives. Three key advanced technologies for Europe’s future are the Internet of Things, blockchain and next generation Internet.
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects the physical world to a digital environment, where connected objects report on their status and the environment around them. You might use a smart watch to monitor your health or fitness, or check your home alarm system is on and your doors are locked from your phone. This is possible thanks to the IoT
The IoT also has large-scale benefits: industry uses IoT to help with running factories; sensors in fields collect data that helps farmers make better decisions; entire cities can be equipped with sensors and monitors to become smart cities.
The EU is working with industry, organisations and academia to achieve all these things and more. Its vision for the IoT can be outlined by 3 strands:
- a thriving IoT ecosystem to help innovation
- a human-centred approach to ensure the IoT respects EU values and empowers EU citizens
- a single market for the IoT so people and objects can connect from anywhere in the EU
While the IoT helps us connect the physical and digital worlds, blockchain keeps our digital world secure.
Most of you recognise blockchain as the technology behind Bitcoin, the world’s first virtual money or ‘cryptocurrency’. But, blockchain has a huge number of uses beyond this, all of which can make your online life safer. For example, you can use it to verify your identity online, transfer important data, vote in elections and monitor supply chains securely.
You can think of blockchain as a kind of database, where entries are added permanently as ‘Blocks’, and this ‘Chain’ cannot be broken or altered in any way. The resulting ‘Blockchain’ is a permanent, verified record. And, blockchain distributes data from transactions among all users, so it is not held in a single place. This means you never have to trust a central authority and there is no single point of failure.
The EU is committed to fostering the growth of blockchain so European citizens can enjoy its benefits across these areas and more, and so Europe can become a global leader in blockchain.
Encompassing the EU’s approach to advanced technologies is a human-centric approach: how will these technologies improve your life? This is also the case when discussing the future of the Internet.
The Internet plays a huge role in our lives. This role became even greater during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many of us relied on the Internet to work, shop and stay in touch with loved ones.
As the Internet develops, the EU must ensure it reflects the values that our important to us and that it responds to the needs of society. We will focus on making it fully accessible, so you can use it regardless of the language you speak or your disability.
We want the Internet to enhance your involvement in society and the economy, boosting your participation in politics and communities. We also want a safe internet, where you can be confident your data is secure.
Therefore, we launched the Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative. The goal of the NGI initiative is to ensure that the development of technologies and the online world contribute to making the Internet more people-focused.
It also offers funding opportunities for technologies such as blockchain, the Internet of Things and multilingual tools. These technologies are crucial to building a safer, more open and respectful internet.