The OECD has released its Digital Economy Outlook 2015, putting the spotlight firmly on IoT as a key ’emerging issue’ and urging member governments to address IoT issues by taking numerous IoT related policy initiatives.
The 284 page document is the latest in a biennial series that examines and documents developments, emerging opportunities and challenges in the digital economy. It highlights how OECD countries and partner economies are taking advantage of ICTs and the Internet to meet their public policy objectives.
The ‘Emerging Issues’ chapter in the latest edition is devoted to IoT with the OECD saying it will “have a profound impact on multiple sectors of the economy, including industry automation, energy provision and transportation” and it says governments need to address multiple issues and that IoT adoption will “depend to a large extent on the capacity of governments to create an adequate regulatory framework in key areas including telecommunication, privacy and consumer policy.”
Substantial government efforts needed
“The evolution of the Internet of Things will require substantial efforts on the part of governments to re-evaluate and review a significant number of policies. These could include the regulations surrounding naming and numbering, particularly with regard to numbers used in mobile networks, where further liberalisation and access for private networks could bring great economic benefits. Policies surrounding the use of ‘national’ numbers on an international scale will also need discussion.”
It continues: “To maximise the potential of the digital economy for productivity, innovation, inclusive growth and jobs, governments need to work in multiple policy areas. They must, for example, engage in further and renewed efforts to protect competition, lower entry barriers in communications and content markets, strengthen regulatory coherence, improve skills, assign spectrum in an efficient manner and establish trust at the infrastructure and applications layers.”
The report singles out for mention European, Korean and US Government IoT initiatives, but makes scant mention of the German Government’s Industry 4.0 initiatives or of the Chinese Government’s IoT initiatives.
EU puts IoT in focus
Of the EU it says: “The European Union has made the IoT an essential part of its Digital Agenda for Europe 2020, which focuses on applications, research and innovation, and the policy environment. The European Union has been particularly active in promoting research and innovation: …”
For Korea, it says: “In February 2014, the Korean government published its plan for building the IoT with the aim of launching a hyper-connected ‘digital revolution’ to address policy goals. One of the aims was to promote IoT-driven economic development, existing examples of which include Songdo Smart City and smart eel farms.”
In the US, it says the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC) — a group of representatives from large information and communications corporations that reports to the President — has instilled a sense of urgency into IoT policy development.
Only three years to get IoT Policy right
“In November 2014 the NSTAC released a draft report on IoT, urging the US government to take actions to secure the IoT. The report identifies risks associated with the IoT with a focus on critical infrastructure, concluding that, ‘there is a small and rapidly closing window to grasp the opportunities of the IoT in a way that maximises security and minimises risk. If the nation fails to do so, it will be coping with the consequences for generations’. The report further states that, ‘there are only three years – and certainly no more than five – to influence how the IoT is adopted’.”
There is no mention of any Australian Government IoT initiatives. However, the report makes numerous positive references to Australia’s National Digital Economy Policy. Trouble is, this to the former Labor Government policy released in 2011 and updated in 2013 before the federal election.
In the run-up to that election the Coalition released its Policy for E-Government and the Digital Economy in which it promised to update the ALP policy during its first term in office.
No such update appears to have been produced and we have sought comment from communications minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office.