The Internet of Things and Data: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

The Internet of Things and Data

The IoT has moved from the curiosity and speculation stage to the point in which practical; business applications are being built upon it, and there’s a need for more deliberate development, policies and standards to move it forward.

We’re already seeing extremely practical applications coming through the so-called “Industrial Internet,” the focus of groups such as the Industrial Internet Consortium and companies such as GE, who are embedding sensors in industrial-strength equipment ranging from aircraft engines to power tools, dramatically increasing the efficiency and awareness of production processes.  According to estimates GE, there are already about 10 billion devices connected to the Industrial Internet today.

There are also exciting IoT-driven developments emerging in areas as broad as healthcare, urban management and marine biology.

Needless to say, there’s now a lot of power behind the Internet of Things. And with it comes great responsibility. This is where data comes in—because the IoT is not really about the “things,” it’s about the data moving back and forth between those things.

Accordingly, this past year has seen greater calls for a national “IoT strategy” that both promotes economic growth through IoT, as well as safeguarding security and privacy.

In a recent article, CIO’s Kenneth Corbin documented some of the discussions taking place among policymakers about the implications and possibilities of IoT data. A national policy would help solidify support for reaping the benefits of IoT, while restraining a hodge-podge of regulations that could stifle its potential.  There are calls for “a concerted effort in the federal government to bring together the various agencies that have a role in the regulatory environment for IoT applications and develop a cohesive national strategy that would identify areas where the government could spur investment, innovation and adoption…. it must encompass a wide swath of the federal government, given that IoT devices and applications are cropping up in industries across the regulatory spectrum.”

Data itself is a powerful force of innovation, and increasingly is at the center of many policy discussions. Corbin cites a recent report from the Center for Data Innovation which concludes there are “incredible opportunities to leverage data to address important social issues and encourage economic growth.”

The time has come for policymakers – as well as corporate strategists – to embrace the immense resources of data IoT is generating. Monika Jha observes “the time is right to prepare and have adequate measures in place to deal with the wide deluge of data that will be coming.” This requires, at an organizational level, big data strategies and methodologies beyond what most businesses now have in place.

This not includes analytic tools and platforms, but the network infrastructure and presence that can make this happen, Jha states. “IoT’s efficiency relies on effective data transmission,” she writes. “For IoT-enabled devices to be smart and connected, companies will have to come up with an entirely new stack of technology infrastructure. Along with that network, communications will be required in order to support connectivity and a product cloud that will contain the database. For all of this to be implemented successfully, there will also be need for a platform on which the foundation will be laid for building software applications that act as gateways for accessing device data. This in turn will allow that data to be communicated to other devices on the internet, thus connecting these products (or things) to business systems.”

For 2016, there’s lots of work – and thinking – ahead, as IoT engulfs the data space.