Digital economy

Using Sensor-Based Networks to Address Global Issues: Policy Opportunities and Challenges, 8-9 June 2009, Lisbon


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OECD Experts Conference

hosted by Portugal

8-9 June 2009 



AgendaContext | Objectives | Audience | References


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The overarching goal of the conference was to help policy makers:

  • Understand sensor-based networks and their potential contribution to economic and social welfare,
  • Identify how to further stimulate innovation in this area and foster the development of these technologies where they are needed the most and are the most promising.


Agenda, Presentations and Summary Report


Sensor-based networks and associated technologies hold the promise to help address important challenges such as protecting the environment including saving energy and rationalizing the consumption of natural resources, delivering health and elderly care, improving transportation safety and efficiency, or organizing response to natural disasters, increasing quality control and productivity through better monitoring of industrial and services production and distribution processes.

Sensors are fixed or mobile processing devices that measure or detect a real-world condition, such as motion, heat, light or location and convert the condition into an analogue or digital representation. "Sensor-based networks” are groups of sensors with a communications infrastructure intended to cooperatively monitor and record conditions at diverse locations.

Real-life applications using sensor-based networks are not yet widespread. Many are already implemented or being implemented. Many others are in the laboratory. Therefore we are at an ideal moment to consider the technical, economic, and social issues that applications using this technology may raise and how to foster innovation in this area.

This conference follows-up on the 2008 OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Future of the Internet Economy where Ministers invited the OECD to "analyse the economic, social and cultural impacts of emerging Internet technologies, applications and services, including sensor-based networks" (Seoul Declaration). It builds on previous OECD work on RFID and on the High Level OECD Conference on "ICTs, the environment and Climate change" (Helsingør, Denmark, 27-28 May 2009).



  • Provide a better understanding of how sensor-based networks can help address important challenges in three select areas: environmental protection, health and elderly care, transportation and logistics.
  • Discuss how these technologies can contribute to growth, productivity, employment, and quality gains in these areas.
  • Consider the conditions for the adoption of these technologies, including acceptance, privacy, information security, interoperability and the provision of the necessary infrastructure.

The discussion aimed to explore recent developments and trends in research on sensor-based networks technologies and applications with a potential for adoption in the short, medium and long-term, as well as the drivers and challenges for their deployment. It also aimed to provide a better understanding of what innovation processes and transformations occur during the development and the market introduction of sensor-based networks in a given sector.



The Experts Conference brought together 60 participants from the government, the private sector and the civil society as well as from the research and academic communities for brainstorming and debate of a broad range of issues such as innovation, economy, technology, and policy development.


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