Section 3

Benefits of the Mobile Internet


The mobile Internet has grown to be a significant economic sector in its own right, generating significant revenues across the value chain including the network, devices, and apps. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), across 13 countries accountable for 70% of global GDP*, 2013 revenues directly related to the Mobile Internet were EUR512 billion. Find out more

However, this severely understates the impact of the mobile Internet, not just on the broader economy, but on users around the world. As we show in this section, the mobile Internet has been adopted across almost all sectors, including government, healthcare, and entertainment, with a variety of innovations that take advantage of both full mobility and the features of smart devices.

As a result, the mobile Internet has become an integral part of users’ lives, not just enabling us to communicate with our friends and family, but track our health, interact with our government, entertain ourselves, and even help earning a living. As a result, in a 2014 survey BCG estimated the consumer surplus of the mobile Internet to be at EUR2,764 billion across the set of 13 countries*, a multiple of 500% of mobile Internet revenues alone.

* The 13 countries are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.

2013 Mobile Internet revenues
Mobile Internet revenues (EUR billion)

Proportion of individuals in a region using the Internet in the previous 12 month period. Data is based on surveys carried out by individual national statistical offices or extrapolated from information on Internet subscriptions.

Source: BCG, 2014

Just as mobile Internet adoption has leap-frogged that of fixed in many countries, so have the services it enables. While such leap-frogging is typically seen in developing countries, such as in the case of M-Pesa providing payment services for those without previous access to the formal financial system in markets such as Kenya, there is also some element of this taking place in developed countries as well. For example, a 2013 Nielsen study of the US online retail and financial services markets found that over 50% of survey respondents bank exclusively with mobile devices.

In addition to leap-frogging of existing services, mobile Internet services offer new functionality. It is not just that we can access the same services outside of the home or office, but the services themselves are different based on the features of the smart devices and how they interact with the Internet. The smart device can combine video from the camera with crowd knowledge about where we are or where we are going; it can be woken with a movement to analyse our speed and positioning; and, as we look forward to the Internet of things, the smart devices themselves make up an array of billions of advanced sensors that can provide data about our surroundings.

Of course, many of these benefits are only accessible using information that may be personal and sensitive, about where we are, where we are going, and what we are doing. Further, many of these benefits arise through new intermediaries that provide us with the apps that we use and the devices that we use them with. The next section will cover the flip side of the story presented here – describing the challenges that arise directly from the benefits that the mobile Internet is making available.


The Mobile Internet and Entrepreneurship

The mobile Internet has created new opportunities for entrepreneurs. We highlight this benefit up front for two reasons. First, the opportunity to create income, and even a fortune, is critical in this age, and the mobile Internet extends this opportunity to millions around the world who may not have formerly had access to the ingredients to innovate, or the marketplace to sell the outcome. Second, many innovations typically address local opportunities and gaps with local solutions, and indeed a number of the services highlighted in the following sections came about through individuals or small groups seeking to improve the lives of those closest to them.

The opportunity (and challenges) created by the mobile Internet for entrepreneurs is well illustrated by the story of Wilfred Mworia, a 22 year old student who greeted the announcement of the Apple App Store in 2008 by developing an app providing details on events in his home city of Nairobi, Kenya. This itself was not remarkable, as he was certainly not alone in anticipating the opportunity – what was remarkable, however, was that he developed and released the app without ever using an iPhone. In an article at the time, he stated that even though he did not have an iPhone, “I can still have a world market for my work”. Find out more

Mr. Mworia proved to be as prescient as he was determined. The mobile Internet is now a truly world market of over two billion users with access to app stores. The benefits are not yet fully available, as we note [Reference to Section 2] that there are many countries that do not yet have app stores, and thus it is not possible to buy or sell apps there. Nonetheless, total downloads to-date are well over 100 billion apps, and total app revenues are expected to reach 77 billion by 2017. Find out more

The mobile Internet is not just a marketplace, however. The mobile Internet also provides access to the ingredients needed to innovate: access to educational resources; tools for research on innovations; access to open source software and services; mentorship platforms to contact business leaders for advice; and crowdfunding platforms to raise money for the innovation. Find out more

The mobile Internet has created new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

The results have been astonishing. WhatsApp, an instant messaging application, introduced in 2009 was purchased by Facebook for USD 19 billion in 2014, when it reached 500 million users. One of t he top grossing video apps, Puzzles & Dragons, earned more than USD 2.5 billion in its first two years after release.

While these apps generate significant notice and attract more developers to reach their rewards, it is worth looking beyond the headlines. In particular, these Apps benefit from a ‘winner takes all’ phenomenon, where there is little incentive to use the second most popular messaging service or game, when there is no limit on us ing the first one.

Relatedly, these apps are also not the job generators that we might all wish for, particularly as many economies are developing and/or growing out of the aftermath of the fiscal crisis of the last de cade. For instance, WhatsApp has 55 employees, while the developer of Puzzles & Dragons, GungHo Online Entertainment, has 333 employees, not all working on the game. The economics are simple – unlike traditional products requiring more workers to produce more output, downloading new copies of Instagram does not depend on more new employees.

However, as we see in the next section, income from the mobile Interne t does not just come from the latest app, but brings benefits to e ven the most traditional of livelihoods.

The Mobile Internet and Livelihood

The effects of the mobile internet on livelihoods around the globe can be life-changing, impacting those whose daily lives are otherwise little touched by access to modern technology. Mobile technology is unique in helping to reach people in the remotest areas and giving them access to the kind of support and structure that can enable them to improve their livelihood and move beyond a subsistence way of living. For instance, farmers can learn the latest information about how to raise their crops or cattle, and also pricing information for which they formerly had to rely on an intermediary.

Given the obstacles that can occur on a day to day basis during ordinary working life, these apps have created unique solutions to directly address pressing problems. Ultimately they help compensate for existing gaps in support in rural areas and level the playing field and improve the competiveness of farmers, fisherman, and others directly impacted. However, as discussed in the previous section, local solutions typically require local knowledge, and even entrepreneurs within a country may be more focused on their own more urban environment.

An example of the importance of local solutions is highlighted in the LIFE APPs television series on Aljazeera English, which challenges young app developers to visit the remotest villages, experience the obstacles and struggles faced by the inhabitants in their daily lives, and develop apps helping to combat some of these issues. Find out more This is happening in Kenya, Rio’s Favelas, Uganda, India and Namibia. Find out more

Transition from SMS to Mobile apps

In order to address the widest possible market, and given the overwhelming traditional prevalence of basic and feature phones, particularly in rural and low income areas, many livelihood services originated using SMS, which limited the information provided to short simple messages.

Recently, with the growth of the mobile Internet, and leap-frogging of smartphones, these services are now branching out and taking advantage of the app environment and capabilities of smart devices, to provide more details as well as more visual interaction to overcome literacy challenges. Find out more

For instance, iCow, which started as an SMS-based messaging service, now has a mobile app which features video content. According to statistics provided by iCow, (from a survey of 100 random users in Kenya) over 60% of of phone types bought in the last 3 years were now smart phones.


Is a service in Kenya aimed at small-scale dairy farmers. iCow essentially acts as a guide to cow rearing for local farmers. The app provides information on animal nutrition, milk production and gestation as well as helping farmers track the estrus stages of their cows.

One of those who benefited almost immediately from the app is Rachel from Nyanhuru Kenya, who owns 5 cows. Since using iCow, her milk yield has increased, with some cows going from 10-12 liters up to 18 liters per day, while she has been able to improve hygiene and raise healthier animals. Due to this app, what once could be a financial liability is now a viable source of income for Rachel.


For a substantial number of low-income farmers, the only accessible avenue for information on market rates are potential buyers or ‘middlemen’. This creates a problem, as with each participant trying to get the best deal, only one side is privy to the relevant information, giving all the power to middlemen and potential buyers.

M-farm is an app in Kenya that addresses this imbalance between seller and buyer. The app gives daily crop prices and provides price trends in order to enable farmers to make informed decisions about when to plant, how to price and where to sell. Find out more

M-farm also features an online marketplace for farmers, which gives them the chance to collaborate and essentially cut out the middle man.

M-Farm has expanded outside Kenya to a number of African countries where the app has helped to revitalize the agricultural industry. As Bawa Yamusah ,a farmer from Ghana testifies, the app has had an immense benefit on his livelihood, enabling him to pay for his family’s education and health needs.

Originating as an SMS based app, M-farm has evolved into taking full advantage of smartphone capabilities and now features an online marketplace, further benefiting low-volume farmers.

Fisher Friend Mobile Application

The 2004 tsunami had a major impact in southern India, with many rural villages affected. In addition to the immediate impact on lives and property, the tsunami illustrated how exposed the livelihood of those in fishing villages were to the mercy of the elements. In order to increase the technological capacity of these fishermen, the Fisher Friend Mobile Application was created, to provide real time data on weather and sea conditions and pinpoint emergencies, but also to help locate promising concentrations of fish. Find out more

Sakthivel, a 33-year-old craft fisherman from T.R. Pattinacherry in Karaikal, Pondicherry, lillustrates the benefits of this app. Sakthivel uses the app to identify rocky areas at sea, helping to avoid dangerous routes and cut down the time and fuel needed, resulting in a decrease in cost. Using location information to find fish, Sakthivel has now made a profit of Rs. 5000 on capturing oil sardine fish. As well as benefiting himself, he has also been broadcast information on the dangerous routes to help his friends.

Fisher Friend makes fishing more profitable as well as safer for more than 500 fisherman to date. And for them, aside from the increase in revenue and profits, this app allows them to take control of their livelihoods without being a victim of environmental conditions.

The Mobile Internet and Education

The mobile Internet does not just directly impact livelihood, but also indirectly can help with the education needed to learn a trade, as well as general education. New tools are being developed that allow the exploitation of the features of the mobile Internet to enhance learning experiences, a service sometimes called m-learning. For example, downloadable podcasts of lectures and instant messaging interactions with peers or teachers are tools that can be used away from traditional learning spaces.

M-learning has proven to be particularly popular in developing countries, where it is used both to support more traditional classroom experiences as well as stand alone. In 2014, survey data showed that 24% of people in developing countries were regularly using the mobile Internet for educational purposes, alongside 12% of those in developed markets.

Appreciation for the benefits of m-learning is also higher in emerging markets, where a different survey found that 68% of respondents in Nigeria and 66% of those in Kenya felt that using the mobile Internet for online learning provided a “great improvement” to their lives, while 44% of those in the UK shared this sentiment. This is not surprising, as there are significantly more traditional educational alternatives in developed countries that pre-date m-learning.


An interactive education tool providing both instructor-led and collaborative learning, offering university course content via video lectures, case studies, articles and blogs anytime and anywhere with mobile Internet connectivity


Mumbai, India


Allows flexibility for both students and teachers, enabling students to study at their own pace and providing teachers with a tool through which to plan and structure their courses. The app offers the benefit of easy peer-to-peer and student-teacher interaction as well as use of interactive content and study tools, making learning more engaging.

The Mobile Internet and Accessibility

The mobile Internet is important for everyone, not least those with disabilities. Users with disability may in fact rely more on mobile services. For example they may have greater reliance on online shopping or banking services if they find these more accessible than physically visiting retail outlets.

The mobile Internet can help those who experience speech, hearing or other types of communication disabilities to communicate more efficiently than before, for instance by adding video to calls. Additional tools, taking advantage of smart device capabilities to send sound, location data and images, have been developed for use via app or mobile web browser to help persons with disabilities.

Features such as the iPhone’s VoiceOver, which enables people with vision impairment to operate the device with synthetic speech and touch-based interface, are proving hugely beneficial in opening up the mobile Internet to blind people.

Both the nature of the mobile Internet and the tools developed are encouraging mobile adoption among people with disability. A March 2013 research conducted by Web Accessibility in Mind has found that 58% of those surveyed with a motor disability use mobile access to the Internet, 36% of whom take advantage of mobile accessibility settings on their phone. Take-up by people with low vision is even higher, at 80% of those surveyed (with 13% using mobile as their primary Internet-access device and 63% using accessibility settings). Find out more

When accessibility is built into mainstream devices, people with disability can gain the benefit from the mobile Internet just like anyone else. There are thousands of apps for people with disability – we highlight a select few here as examples. Find out more


An app that connects blind people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat to assist with tasks from knowing the expiry date on the milk to navigating new surroundings.


Copenhagen, Denmark


Within 12 days of launch, the app attracted 99,000 helpers worldwide, while 8,000 blind people signed up seeking help. The fact that the app uses volunteers allows the service to be provided for free, supporting blind users in handling big and small tasks as and when required in an easy and informal way.



The app offers access to daily news, thousands of books, location services, education and entertainment content in audio format. Through its speech-to-text technology, users of the service can take and share notes independently.




Of the 800 thousand visually disabled people in turkey, only 5% have completed education due to challenges disseminating information to the blind. The app enables independent learning as well as access to news for the country’s blind population. In 2014, the app served 6,250 subscribers with an average of 7,500-minutes-a-day total listening time. By 2015 the number of subscribers had risen to 110,000.


An app that uses crowd-sourced information to help identify places accessible to people using canes, walkers, wheelchairs or families with strollers. The app uses a competitive “mapathon” format to encourage the inputting of data.




The App gives users on-the-go information on the accessibility of routes and locations, allowing them to efficiently plan travel.


This app is designed by a father after his daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy to ease everyday conversations through the use of pictures and sound clips




The app is helpful with pre-speech toddlers or children with certain communication impairments, allowing the child to indicate their needs by looking at one of four panels and selecting which panel they’d like from the set. The app has the additional benefit that users add their own pictures and voice to heighten child engagement.

The Mobile Internet and Governance

The Mobile Internet is increasingly being adopted by local and national governments to conduct elements of governance and service management. The Mobile Internet has the benefit of being able to make public information and government services available on an “anytime, anywhere” basis. These services can be delivered to citizens, businesses, government employees and within the government.

The use of the Mobile Internet in service delivery may be particularly important in emerging markets, where the take-up of mobile relative to, for example, fixed internet is high and poor fixed communications infrastructure has limited government communications initiatives in the past.

Use of the online government services is migrating to mobile even when no mobile-specific applications have been developed. In the UK, the government is documenting the shift in visits to its websites from computers to smart devices. The effect on the government’s e-petition service has been perhaps most striking, with visits from mobile devices up from 25% of all visits in January 2012 to 73% by January 2014. The UK government is now requiring that all its websites be designed to accommodate a broad range of devices and screen sizes. Find out more

As shown below, a number of governments are also using the mobile Internet to create a ‘Smart City’ that runs more efficiently than before.


The app allows users to complete tasks including checking and paying outstanding or advance property tax, obtain birth and death certificates, register complaints, check business registration certificate details and checking recruitment advertisements


Surat, India


This app helps increase efficiency, saving citizens’ time and had 50 thousand downloads at year end 2014


Estonia has developed the first “digital society”, allowing tasks such as business registration, taxation, medical prescriptions and voting to be carried out online. Within this system are a number of mobile components, including parking, mobile ID and mobile payments.




The Estonian mobile ID card serves as proof of ID when utilising online services, it can be used for accessing secure e-services and digitally signing documents, but has the advantage over the e-ID card previously rolled out in Estonia of not requiring a card reader. It additionally uses its authentication tools to allow participation in voting.

The Mobile Internet and Health

The advancement of mobile technology is enabling healthcare delivery via smart devices. Mobile healthcare, or mHealth, applications comprise a variety of services, from those that encourage the adoption and tracking of “healthy” habits, such as fitness tracking apps, to those that help diagnosis or monitor health parameters such as heart rate and blood glucose data for remote patients. Such service have been growing in popularity, with the GSMA reporting 1125 deployed mHealth products and services as of February 2015.

While mHealth popularity and applications are universal, the services enabled are particularly popular in countries where access to traditional healthcare is less advanced and smartphone penetration is rising rapidly. According to PWC, 59% of patients in emerging markets in 2012 were using mHealth, compared to 35% in developed markets.

The popularity of mHealth service is expected to continue to grow rapidly, with revenues forecast to more than triple from 2014 to 2017, as shown on right as shown below.

Smartphones have a number of inbuilt features that enable them to act as diagnostic tools. These include their ability to connect to sensors worn on the body to monitor vital signs as well as the use of the phone camera to analyse the colour of test strips and apps allowing patients to track changes in their eyesight from home using the large screens to provide a shape discrimination test.

Worldwide mobile health revenue
Worldwide mobile health revenue (USD billion)

Proportion of individuals in a region using the Internet in the previous 12 month period. Data is based on surveys carried out by individual national statistical offices or extrapolated from information on Internet subscriptions.

Source: “Touching lives through mobile health: Assessment of the global market opportunity”, GSMA report by pwc, February 2012


The Sana app connects community health workers and medical specialists, allowing the transmission of medical data.


Based out of MIT, USA with projects in areas such as India, Mexico, Greece and Philippines.


The ability to transfer data allows for real time support from remote specialists in clinical decisions. This app is open source and customisable and has been used for purposes such as early detection of oral cancer in rural India as well as treatment of diabetes in Greece, acting both as the eyes and ears of clinicians and as a portable medical record for patients


An app automatically available on Apple iPhones that is designed to improve users health, using the iPhones motion sensors and location data to monitor physical activity as well as aggregate third-party health and fitness apps.




The App aggregates all of the user’s personal health information using different apps and fitness devices into one place. This both allows information sharing across apps as well as acting as an emergency medical ID.

The Mobile Internet and Personal Security

There is perhaps no more valuable use of the power of the mobile Internet than for ensuring the safety of ourselves, families, and neighbors.

In Malaysia, James Khoo’s sister was missing for several days with no contact, having been in a serious car accident. He then realized that a smartphone could be programmed to send out its location if the owner did not arrive at a pre-announced location within a pre-set time, and created a personal safety app to do that called Watch Over Me. He was joined by Chin Xin-Ci as a co-founder, who had narrowly escaped a kidnapping attempt, leading to a new feature allowing the user to simply shake the phone, which turned on the video automatically and sent it along with the location to family or friends to help rescue the victim and identify the perpetrator.

Similarly, in Kenya, when violence broke out following the election in 2007, several developers set out to use mobility to gain strength from numbers. The result was Ushahidi, a program allowing users to provide the location where violence was occurring through their phones, enabling others to avoid it. Ushahidi is now an open source software for crowdmapping, and has been adapted around the world for disaster relief following earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and even to track the progress of snowplows in Washington DC.

The Mobile Internet and Entertainment

Entertainment apps constitute a significant portion of the overall usage of apps on Android and IOS platforms, and gaming constitutes a large portion of entertainment, based on time spent and revenue, accounting for 79% of Apple’s App Store revenue and 92% of Google Play’s. Find out more

One of the major successes in this genre is Dead Trigger 2, which is a first person multiplayer shooter game. Launched in 2013, this app currently has over 40 million downloads. It utilizes real time story development which is influenced by the participation of every player. Ultimately this app, and apps like this, are helping mobile gaming compete more successfully with the sophistication of more traditional console gaming, while being more convenient due to its portability.

Another app that also employs the multiplayer feature is Clash of Clans. Again an emphasis of this game is to interact globally with other players in order to further heighten the gaming experience. At the forefront of 2014’s billion dollar mobile games16 , Clash of Clans is a strategy game with the aim to build and protect territory. With over a 100 million downloads, and a daily revenue of 1,639,220 USD in the US alone, the popularity of this game and games like it, constitute a significant use of the mobile Internet.

Top grossing iOS mobile gaming apps in the United States as of February 2015
Daily revenue in U.S. dollars

Proportion of individuals in a region using the Internet in the previous 12 month period. Data is based on surveys carried out by individual national statistical offices or extrapolated from information on Internet subscriptions.

  • 0: Clash of Clans
  • 1: Game of War - Fire Age
  • 2: Candy Crush Saga
  • 3: Candy Crush Soda Saga
  • 4: Boom Beach
  • 5: Big fish Casino - Free Slots, Vegas Slots & Slot T
  • 6: Farm Heroes Saga
  • 7: Hay Day
  • 8: Hit it Rich! Free Casino Slots
  • 9: GNS Casino - Slots, Bingo, Video Poker and more!

Source: Statista, 2015

An emerging trend in the mobile gaming sphere is bringing beloved family games onto the mobile internet, using the multiplayer app platform, introducing a new generation to these timeless games. Essentially these mobile apps could be classed as bridging the gap between old and new, and making the mobile internet accessible to a larger audience.


One classic game which has made a move to the mobile screen is Scrabble, which also belongs to the online multi player genre. Being promoted as a way to “connect with friends” anywhere, it also enables one to learn from the game what the best word would have been.

The Mobile Internet of Things

In addition to the mobile Internet, enabling users to connect to the Internet using smart devices, wireless technology enables smart devices to become part of the Internet of Things.


The Internet of Things, also known as M2M, or Machine to Machine, involves both everyday and industrial objects such as watches, keys, household appliances, vehicles, machinery and buildings to be embedded with chips and sensors, allowing them to “think”, “feel”, and “talk” with each other, communicate with people and enable us to monitor and control them anytime and anywhere.

The total number of “things” connected to the Internet is growing rapidly, having first exceeded the global population in 2008 and is forecast to rise to exceed 50 billion in 2020. It is expected that eventually 99% of everything produced will be connected to the Internet. This growth in connectivity is projected to result in connected device revenues of USD1.2 trillion in 2020, 6x the USD200 million revenues in 2013.

Connections to the Internet of Things
Connections to the Internet of Things (billion)

Proportion of individuals in a region using the Internet in the previous 12 month period. Data is based on surveys carried out by individual national statistical offices or extrapolated from information on Internet subscriptions.

Source: Cisco, 2015

In particular, based on the functions built into the smart devices, anyone carrying a smart device is potentially part of a worldwide network of sensors that can gather information based on their surroundings, and aggregate them into accurate information about health, traffic, and even weather.

In the mHealth section we discussed how the sensors in smart devices could be used to track the fitness and assess the health of the owner. This requires the direct involvement of the user, interacting with the app. In addition, work by MIT professor Alex Pentland has shown that it is possible to use mobile phone records to diagnose flu and track outbreaks, by aggregating background information from many users, without their direct engagement, potentially allowing early intervention by health care professionals to stop the spread.


An interactive smartphone app that uses smartphone sensors to provide localized weather conditions. Find out more Also in newer Android and IOS models which include barometers, the phones can be used to measure atmospheric pressure at the user’s location, which can then signal changes in the weather. It was due to be released in April 2015.


USA, co-founded by Katerina Stropiati, it is currently in beta testing stage around the San Francisco bay area, New York and in the Dallas area.


The app makes use of community data to keep it interactive and locally based. This means that greater accuracy can be gained because of the localized nature of the updates.


A community based location-based navigation app which provides real time traffic information for drivers. This also includes Waze community edited maps and live routing. A driver will switch on the app while driving, which will passively collect road data. This includes any hindrances on the road, such as traffic etc. However, one can also update on any sudden occurrences such as accidents or emergency road blocks in order to update other drivers. The app also uses online map editors, who update frequently. It currently has over 50 million downloads.


Israel, cofounded by Amir Shinar, Uri Levine and Ehud Shabtai. Acquired by Google in 2013.


This app lays emphasis on creating a community of drivers to share information. Not only is its real time data invaluable for daily drivers/commuters, but its framework fosters local networks which is much more accurate for a driver. This results in journeys being potentially shortened, saving time and money. Waze has also been instrumental in monitoring and alleviating heavy traffic arising from high profile events, such as the recent visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines in January 2015.

The Mobile Internet and Smart Cities

One focused use of the capabilities of the mobile Internet of things relates to the creation of smart cities. Smart cities is a term used to describe cities that have adopted digital technologies, including mobile networks, to enhance the performance of infrastructure related services, reduce costs and develop more effective communication channels with citizens. While early smart city developments used fixed technologies, mobile is becoming increasingly popular due to a number of benefits it has beyond other communication channels:

• the popularity of mobile allows for more citizens to be involved, both in data gathering and accessing the smart city services using their existing devices and access

• mobility allowing service to be delivered to citizens anytime and anywhere, rather than when users are at a fixed terminal

• the inbuilt features of smartphones allowing them to be used as a network of sensors, providing information based on the location of the user.

Key smart sectors include transport, such as ticketing applications and traffic monitoring systems. In one interesting example, Orange released 5 months of anonymised mobile data from the Ivory Coast as part of an initiative called Data for Development. IBM used the data to analyse commuting patterns in the capital, Abidjan, and designed a more efficient bus system that would save up to 10% on average travel times. Find out more

This use of mobile devices to access other bits of technology has been illustrated as part of the Royal Institute of Science’s 2014 Christmas Lecture series, with the windows of the Shell Centre, a London skyscraper, transformed into a playable Tetris-style game. Find out more


Qlue is a government sponsored mobile app that allows Jakarta residents to find and provide real time information about traffic conditions, weather and threat alerts, based on their location. Additionally, the platform enables a chat feature with neighbouring users and relevant government employees and access to a live CCTV feed to monitor the local area.


Jakarta, Indonesia


This app is an early step in the local government making use of communication technology and working with local technology start-ups to increase the accountability and transparency in the local administration. As of February 2015 the app had 15,000 registered users and city council staff are making use of the crowd sourced data to improve city services


An app that once downloaded uses the smartphone’s inbuilt motions sensors, accelerometer, and location-awareness to collect conditions on roads driven by the user.




If three or more bumps occur at the same location, the city will inspect the obstacle and assign it to a queue for short-term repair or record its location to assist with long-term repair planning. This streamlined method of pothole reporting has a huge advantage over the traditional need to call a hotline or find and submit an online form.


The mobile Internet is a general purpose technology, which impacts all manners of business, government, and social activities. While the revenues surrounding the delivery and usage of the mobile Internet are large, and growing, they understate the true benefits in monetary terms, and miss the non-monetary benefits of the technology.

The mobile Internet impacts our livelihoods, offers opportunities to innovate, monitor our health and safety, become educated, interact with government, keep in touch with family and friends, provide access for people with disabilities, and not least entertain ourselves. These benefits are perhaps nowhere more felt than in developing countries, where mobile technology has long since leap-frogged fixed, enabling mobile Internet services to provide key services to those otherwise un - or under - served.

Location Technology

Wi-Fi data can be used to identify a handset’s location. Companies develop public Wi-Fi location databases that identify the location of hotspots using unique identifying features. For instance, the Google Street View cars also record the locations of all Wi-Fi signals that they pass. The user’s position is then calculated based on measuring the intensity of any received Wi-Fi signal(s) and matching it to the public Wi-Fi location database.


Most smartphones combine Global Positioning Systems (GPS) with Wi-Fi positioning systems, with Wi-Fi positioning used to compensate for the poor performance of GPS in indoor locations.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

A space-based satellite navigation system based on time. The satellites carry atomic clocks and the satellite locations are monitored precisely. These GPS satellites transmit data continuously which contains their current time and position. A GPS receiver within a smartphone or other GPS-using device listens to multiple satellites and uses triangulation based on the time taken for the signal to travel from the satellite to the handset to calculate the user’s exact location.

Cell tower positioning

The service provider can derive location using the network provider’s infrastructure. The location of the user is calculated based on the radio signal delay of the closest cell-phone towers.

The navigational capability for smartphones has been extended beyond on-screen feedback, such as for instance an app and device that causes bicycle handlebars to vibrate in the direction of the turn. Find out more

Furthermore, location functionality allows data to be collected on travel, for example the use of Baidu apps in China showed that around 80 million people were travelling for Chinese New Year celebrations on 16 February 2015. Find out more






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