Bert Moore is a 25+ year veteran of the Automatic Identification and Data Collection (AIDC) industry and a recognized expert on the subject.
He is the director of IDAT Consulting & Education and serves under contract as AIM's director of technical communications and media relations. In addition to writing and editing AIM's "RFID Connections" and "AIM Connections" newsletters, he serves as the recording secretary for AIM's Technical Symbology Committee (TSC) and RFID Experts Group (REG).
Moore was a 1992 recipient of the AIM USA "Industry Service Award", was selected as a charter member of the AIDC 100 organization in 1997, and is the 2010 recipient of the AIM "Excellence in Journalism" Award.
The Internet of Things: The Bigger Picture
As with any major development in today's increasingly complex world, the Internet of Things (IoT) has more moving parts than a fine, hand-crafted watch. As with a watch, all the pieces of the IoT must work together smoothly to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of data.
Starting with the basic "nodes" of the IoT—the the carriers of a real or virtual object's identity and attributes—all the way up through seamless interconnection of various data collection, manipulation, and reporting devices and services, there is a set of over-arching issues: that of governmental regulation, involvement, and stimulus.
The key question these days, then, is, "What role, if any, should governments play in the development and deployment of the Internet of Things?"
To quote the physician's Hippocratic Oath, "First, do no harm." That is, governments should not enact regulations that unnecessarily inhibit the free and full development of the potential of the IoT.
The IoT is based on the free and full exchange of data among a wide range of stakeholders—from from the everyday consumer to small businesses to international conglomerates to governmental and pan-governmental agencies themselves. Unlike many of the technological advancements since the advent of the microprocessor, the IoT is returning quantifiable, direct benefits to consumers including comparison shopping, health and nutrition information about products, and fair trade status of items.
Just as governmental agencies and academic institutions fostered the initial growth of the Internet and saw it evolve from a simple concept for sharing data among academicians into the essential web of information sources today, government support of innovation for the next generation or next leap forward in internet technology and the IoT is essential.
Even in times of budget austerity, successful companies recognize that investment in R&D is necessary to ensure not only their survival but their future success. Similarly, governments recognize the need to support technical advancements to maintain their presence on the world stage. Many governments and pan-national agencies have already recognized the vast potential of the IoT to enhance business processes and improve the quality of life for their citizens.
The European Union, for example, has currently allocated €35-40 million for 24 IoT projects and its CASAGRAS II initiative is nearing completion. The Chinese government has ear-marked ?5 billion over the next five years to IoT development. The UK will spend £4-5 million over the next two to three years on IoT initiatives. To date, the US has not allotted research and development funds specifically for IoT projects.
While it is important for major corporations to have a free hand in developing their own solutions to problems, it is equally important for SMBs (small-to-medium businesses0 to be able to bring forward their own solutions. These companies may have innovative ideas that, without proper support and funding, may never be noticed above the "noise" of larger companies.
So to answer the initial question, "What role, if any, should governments play in the development and deployment of the Internet of Things?" They need to commit resources to SMBs and academic institutions that are working to develop emerging technologies, applications, and solutions for tomorrow's IoT.
To summarize: • As we know, government has the potential to influence policy in a positive way. Properly worded legislation can provide the catalyst for technology like the IoT to solve real world problems, even if these problems are directed as a benefit to the federal government (e.g. smart energy-efficient buildings). • The best scenario would be for government to provide R&D funding to allow SMBs to compete for the right to innovate in this area. • Funding and initiatives must tie directly to real world problems. • The U.S. should follow the lead of other countries in making this investment.