The Internet of Things (IoT) is a broad term that describes the ecosystem of sensors that interact with each other, persons, and services in computer-aware environments supported by analytics. The complexity of this ecosystem includes sensors that will only interact with each other, sensors that will interact with the broad ecosystem through local area networks (LANs) as well as sensors that may be in direct contact with the Internet.
The IoT represents transformative 21st century technology that promises to revolutionize homes, cars, health care and industry in general. The IoT presents the opportunity and the challenge of protecting privacy and security and encouraging innovation. The IoT is also sometimes viewed as being synonymous with “smart” systems, such as “smart homes,” “smart buildings,” “smart appliances,” “smart health,” “smart mobility,” “smart cities,” and so on. Whether we call it the Smarter Planet, the Internet of Everything, or the Industrial Internet–the IoT is about innovation and the future of the Internet ecosystem itself.
Many of the underlying drivers of the Internet and Information Age revolution such as massive increases in processing power and exploding storage capacity will be jet fuel for the Internet of Things. As a result of these factors, even mundane appliances and other machines and devices that we have long taken for granted – cars, refrigerators, cooking devices, lights, weight scales, watches, jewelry, eyeglasses, and even our clothing – will all soon be networked, sensing, and communicating. The IoT promises to usher in profound changes that will rival the first wave of Internet Innovation.
According to the Economist Magazine, 50 billion intelligent things will be connected and communicating by 2020. The promise of the IoT is that billions of digital devices, from smartphones to sensors in homes, cars, and machines of all kinds will communicate with each other to automate tasks and make life better. Consumers and public officials can use the connected world to improve energy conservation, efficiency, productivity, public safety, health, education, and more. The connected devices and applications that consumers choose to adopt will make their lives easier, safer, healthier, less expensive, and more productive.
Privacy and data security policies for the Internet of Things can be governed by self-regulatory efforts. Developers have a vested interest in adopting best practices and codes of conduct since only by developing solutions that are clearly respectful of people’s privacy, and devoting an adequate level of resources for disseminating and explaining the technology to the mass public can industry expect to achieve widespread adoption of the IoT technologies.
The potential societal benefits of IoT technology are enormous. Policy makers, civil society and industry must work together to promote trust and confidence in this new technology known as the IoT.
We will be discussing the policy and technology issues the IoT demands at the 2nd Annual Digital Economy Congress in Vancouver, BC, October 9-10th. Join the conversation! Find out how you can get involved here.