The think tank was formed in May with the aim of helping to remove barriers to IoT and enable Australia to realise the full potential of IoT.
Details of the draft report were presented to a Comms Alliance industry and stakeholder workshop in Sydney, which heard that the government could be receptive to an industry-led IoT strategy initiative. Paul Paterson, head of the Bureau of Communications Research, within the Department of Communications — and a member of the IoT think tank’s executive committee — told the meeting: “The timing is good for approaching the Department of Communications on this. You need to prepare.”
Co-author of the report, Geof Heydon from marketing consultancy CreatorTech, said that the Department of Communications was the logical agency to take ownership of a national IoT strategy. “The ICT sector is the engine room of IoT and therefore the responsibility ought to be in the DoC.”
Further research into IoT needed
The report makes a total of 10 draft recommendations and six work streams. Recommendation No 1 calls for the development of “a national IoT strategy, including regulatory and policy settings to drive IoT leadership, alignment, awareness and opportunity initially within sectors and longer term across sectors.” The related work stream No 1 calls for the think tank to “canvas support and develop a national IoT strategy in collaboration with government and other key stakeholders, and undertake further research to validate the findings of the IoT study so as to underpin the strategy.”
The reports’s other co-author, Frank Zeichner, said that no analysis of the economic impact of IoT in Australia had been undertaken but the potential could be huge. “It will be big in some sectors before others and it would be good to work out which ones those might be,” he said. “Almost every vendor I spoke to points out that agriculture was never mentioned as a key sector. That is at odds with the idea that Australia could be leader in agriculture.”
(As we reported in July, the Federal Government recently made only passing reference to IoT in its recently released a 152 page white paper on the competitiveness of Australian agriculture).
To give some indication of the potential impact of IoT in Australia Zeichner presented a modified version of a McKinsey study assessing the global impact of IoT on various industry sectors in which the numbers had been adjusted on the assumption that Australia accounts for between one and two percent of the global economy, depending on the sector in question.
Zeichner said the draft report identified a lack of collaboration, particularly around data sharing, as one of the major inhibitors to the growth of IoT in Australia, not — as is often cited — a lack of standards. “We have come to the view that standards at the connectivity end are not a problem – there are plenty of them,” Zeichner said. “Sharing of data is more the problem. In the UK, EU and the US there are groups today working on data sharing.”
Data sharing will be essential
“In Australia we are fragmented there is no single voice and that is an inhibitor. If we are not talking about this collaboratively then we are not solving problems. Collaboration is fundamental to IoT.”
Work stream item No 3 in the the draft report calls for the think tank to “develop IoT open data and data sharing principles and guidelines — with possible sectoral focus.” There were suggestions during the Q&A session that data sharing is so central to an IoT strategy that this work item be combined with work stream No 1 (development of a national strategy) in the final report.
The overarching goal of the Comms Alliance’s IoT Think Tank is that “By mid-2016 to have an activated, globally-aware Australian IoT industry community that is on par with international developments, with a future strategy and with a vision that is understood and supported by industry and key stakeholders and which positively influences Government policy directions.”
The final version of the think tank’s report is due to be submitted to Comms Alliance at the end of August and is expected to be made public in September or October.