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Can a connected world save us all?

I’ve just had one of the worst experiences in recent years.

I lost my passport in Shanghai and spent the better part of last week chasing my tail for the Shanghai Entry & Exit Bureau to get a new visa and get the hell out of there. It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

We were there for the annual GSMA Mobile Asia Expo and had spent a few days hearing how connected devices and personal data will change the world as we know it.

It’s a concept I’ve been at pains to accept for some time.

Take the Fitbit, for example. I’ve been using it on and off for the past month and to be honest, I’ve struggled to maintain it. I haven’t appreciated the bigger idea about how my data can help. Using Fitbit requires some effort, not much, but you have to sync data, charge the battery, fill in some details, but most of all, remember to wear it.

I’m a heavy Foursquare user, I also tweet a lot and use Facebook regularly, so my paranoia about being tracked is not at issue.

My experience in Shanghai is clear evidence of how the concept of connectivity can change situations like the one I was in.

Passports are huge diplomatic paper trails.

The chip that is embedded into the document itself is useless. It’s not connected to me, apart from my holding it in my hands.

I can’t track it and I can’t monitor my travel behaviour, aside from the stamps on the pages.

I doubt personal items such as passports will remain static for long. The world is evolving, personal items such as a toothbrush will detect oral health, a Fitbit will track your fieriness and heart rate, and Google Glasses will monitor brainwaves.

For me, I think I’m about ready to embrace the possibilities of how a digitally connected world can help.

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