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The World Bank and global wireless group GSMA on Monday announced a new agreement that aims to help address global poverty with insights from internet-connected devices and sensors.

Officials from the groups called the agreement "the first broad scope initiative involving the mobile communications industry and a major multilateral development bank." World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, in a keynote address to GSMA's Mobile World Congress, said mobile carriers "must play a critical role" in the bank's goals of ending extreme poverty and sharing economic growth.

Under the agreement, mobile operators will analyze data collected from smartphones and Internet of Things applications, which could provide a critical source of information in developing nations as they become increasingly connected.

In addition, the World Bank will join the GSMA's Big Data for Social Good advisory panel.

As electronic devices make increasing inroads in the developing world, Kim warned the audience of the profound social implications of connecting impoverished populations to the rest of the world.

"Soon, nearly everyone will know how everyone else lives," Kim said.

That increased awareness of their economic conditions, he said, would coincide with industrial automation taking the place of many low-skill jobs in those areas.

Failing to share the prosperity of the next industrial revolution, Kim cautioned, could promote instability or migration and leave some populations vulnerable to online extremism.

He also said that the traditional model of industrialization — a transition from a largely agricultural society to light manufacturing and, finally, to heavy industry — may be closed to most of the developing world.

Global leaders, Kim said, must ensure that the innovations unlocked by mobile carriers and tech companies lead to increased education and, most importantly, new economic opportunities.

"Our work together is urgent," Kim said.

"We have no choice. We cannot fail."

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