Neelie Kroes highlighted the vibrant Mobile and Connected Health sector: “By the end of this year 231 million individuals worldwide will have downloaded health and fitness apps, with revenues expected to reach over 100 million Euros globally this year, of which 1 in 5 is from Western Europe alone. We need to take advantage of those great changes, because they can benefit us all.”
EU mHealth green paper
Vice-President Kroes said that the EU is already investing on research and innovation in the mHealth sector, but “how can we ensure the most benefit from those new technologies? In March we will launch this debate with a green paper on mHealth to get views on the key aspects that matter like patient safety, legal clarity and data protection. How can we have apps that comply with privacy and data protection laws without, for example, preventing the big data innovations that could develop new drugs.”
“That consultation should open in late March and will be open for 12 weeks. I hope that in that period we get views on those and other questions from a wide range of stakeholders: TELCO companies, ICT companies, entrepreneurs, app developers, healthcare providers, professionals and citizens, consumers and more. Giving us useful input on the way forward for European mHealth.”, she said.
Fast, reliable and broadband networks
Vice-President Kroes also expressed increasing concerns about broadband services: “There is one thing mHealth services are really crying out for - fast, reliable broadband networks. In fact, our entire economy is crying out for them too. Today Europe suffers from not enough broadband, patchy reception and poor connections. And today, using your favorite apps abroad could cost you a fortune in roaming fees; fixing those problems is the aim of our proposals to make Europe a connected continent. And I hope that the Members of Parliament and national ministers can agree them soon.”
She said: “mHealth is an exciting and promising field and we all stand to benefit, governments, medics, entrepreneurs and our economy, and every citizen, from those who want to stay healthy to those who want to become healthy again, and those who want to continue leading normal independent lives as they do so. And that’s just one of the benefits of a connected continent.”
Samsung: Open innovation for mHealth
Young Sohn President and Chief Strategy Officer of Samsung Electronics was the keynote speaker on the first day of the conference. He said that “Mobile Health can help prevent health issues, and it also holds the potential for delivering significant cost savings. Our vision for preventive health means: Health monitoring 24x7, preventative health as part of our daily life, non-intrusive- transparent, and using data from large populations over time to improve health knowledge and predict changes in your health before they become an issue.”
He pointed out open innovation as the key to accelerating Mobile Health Innovation and preventive Health: “We’re driving towards this vision by building an open solution to accelerate innovation in three areas: Promoting open innovation to create better sensors, algorithms, and other disruptive technologies; Developing an open ecosystem for wearable sensors and data, and accelerating validation of new disruptive technologies to enable innovation to get to market faster.”
“We have created the Digital Health Innovation Lab with The University of California, San Francisco UCSF. We invite innovators and entrepreneurs to join us to validate these new technologies, ensure user confidence, and bring products to market faster”, Sohn said. • 25-2-14
New report from the Internet Society studies impact on Internet ecosystem in Rwanda • Almost all of the commercial websites in Rwanda are hosted abroad
Local Internet hosting is key to the development of the Internet ecosystem in emerging countries, according to a report released by the Internet Society. (http://www.internetsociety.org).
The development of locally relevant Internet content that is attractive to users has been shown to have a positive impact on Internet adoption. As the infrastructure necessary for Internet access is becoming more available in developing countries and emerging regions, efforts to increase Internet adoption rates are now focused on the development of such content. However, the impact of such efforts on Internet adoption rates will be limited if the infrastructure and enabling environment for local hosting and content delivery is overlooked.
In many developing countries and emerging regions, the vast majority of content accessed by local users is hosted abroad. As the content must traverse often expensive and sometimes under-provisioned international links, this can have a significant impact on the economics of access as well as the user experience.
“The lack of locally hosted content can have significant impacts on the entire Internet ecosystem in a country,” writes Michael Kende, ISOC’s Chief Economist and co-author of the report. “First, accessing any type of content abroad can be very costly for ISPs, and therefore, international links are often under-provisioned, resulting in slow access times that limit usage. Second, these increased costs for accessing international content are passed on to users, with high prices limiting usage. Finally, these limits on demand will, in turn, restrict the creation of further Internet content, keeping the entire ecosystem underdeveloped.”
The report, “Promoting Local Content Hosting to Develop the Internet Ecosystem,” co-authored by Mr. Kende and Karen Rose, Senior Director, Internet Society’s Office of Strategy and Research, uses Rwanda as a case study in exploring those dynamics, working in close partnership with the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MyICT) in Rwanda and the Rwanda Information and Communication Technology Association (RICTA). While focused on Rwanda, the situation there is common in many developing countries.
“Strengthening the enabling environment for the hosting of local content can have positive cascading impacts on stakeholders and the local Internet economy, including its end users,” said Ms. Rose. “Global hosting options have clearly been valuable for content developers, however, the local hosting environment is yet to mature in many developing countries, limiting the practical options available for content developers to host locally. The cost and latency involved in accessing content abroad from emerging economies can depress usage, with the result that the full potential and benefits of the Internet are not realized. Additionally, depressed usage impacts content developers directly, as less user engagement with content translates to a lower potential for content and service providers to earn revenue from advertising and sales.”
Almost all of the commercial websites in Rwanda are hosted abroad. A small savings for the content providers in hosting it abroad results in significantly higher costs for the ISPs to access the content. For one of the larger Rwandan websites that was examined, the content developer saved USD$111 per year by hosting overseas, while it cost the Rwandan ISPs approximately USD$13,500 in transit costs to deliver the content from abroad to local users. This impact is limited, however, because the websites hosted abroad suffer from high latency, which reduces usage.
The delay experienced by users in Rwanda to download a webpage can frequently be five seconds or more, and this can increase for webpages composed of multiple elements. The cumulative effect can make the overall Internet experience slow and frustrating, with a corresponding negative impact on usage. This can also limit the viability of interactive and data-intensive services such as gaming or video streaming, which depend on low latency.
The report provides several examples of the positive impact on usage when Google and Akamai made content available locally in Rwanda. For instance, Akamai recently turned on a cluster in Rwanda that increased throughput dramatically, and within two months usage increased by 80%. The report then recommends several steps to bolster the local hosting environment in Rwanda, in order that local content providers have the option to experience the benefits of local hosting.
According to the Minister of Youth and ICT in Rwanda, the Hon. Jean Philbert Nsengimana, “The Rwandan Internet environment has seen impressive growth in recent years due to the commitment and involvement of a range of stakeholders, including an enterprising population and business community, dedicated technical community, and strong policy leadership throughout the Government of Rwanda.” Minister Nsengimana added, “This project has demonstrated how the Internet ecosystem in Rwanda, and other countries in a similar position, can work together to bolster the environment for local content hosting.”
While local content hosting is a key element for creating a vibrant local Internet economy, the report notes that the focus for policymakers, companies, and content entrepreneurs, should be on creating a positive enabling environment that will incentivise local hosting and service development and thereby offer content providers a local choice, rather than imposing measures that artificially require local hosting. • APO (13-1-15)