The IoT Think Tank launched by Australia’s Communications Alliance in March 2015 to examine issues thrown up by the rapid emergence of IoT has become the IoT Alliance (Australia) and is transitioning into a stand-alone entity separate from Communications Alliance.
The move follows publication of the think tank’s report on IoT in Australia, on 30 October 2015. That report recommended the establishment, within the think tank, of six workstreams to examine various aspects of IoT. That recommendation is now being implemented: three of the workstreams have already been formed and the remaining three are due to hold their first meetings in the first week of February.
Frank Zeichner, co-author of the think tank report and now a member of Alliance’s council and its four person Alliance Co-ordination Group, said interest in the alliance had been very high, with many organisations joining and putting representatives on the executive council, with many of these coming from the wider ICT industry, rather than the communication sector, and from outside ICT. “We are a start-up. … People are flocking to the workstreams, and that is fantastic,” he said.
Communications Alliance is the convenor and principal host of the IoT Alliance. Other members of the Co-ordination Group are Comms Alliance CEO, John Stanton; director program management, Christiane Gillespie-Jones; and the report’s other co-author, Geof Heydon.
IoT Alliance seeks overseas model
While the final form of the alliance has yet to be determined it has produced a document, the Alliance Baseline Understanding that describes its purpose and its membership and is looking at other organisations overseas for suitable models, Zeichner said.
No precise match had yet been identified, but Zeichner singled out the Industrial Internet Consortium “because it is very industry oriented,” adding: “It also has a role in proof of concept which we don’t do. We are not a standards body and we are not a demonstration house. We are about collaboration, communication advocacy and policy.”
(The IIC was founded by AT&T, Cisco, General Electric, IBM and Intel in March 2014 and how has a membership of more than 200 comprised of major technology companies, industrial end-users, government bodies and academics. It “catalyses and coordinates the priorities and enabling technologies of the industrial Internet.”)
While all participants in the IoT Alliance, with the exception of Comms Alliance staff, are voluntary at present, Zeichner said that the organisation would need to be able to fund paid staff to ensure is longevity. “If you look at similar organisations overseas, they have a staff of six or seven. We do not at present have a funding model that would support that. … Unless industry organisations have a minimum of dedicated staff they cannot maintain the momentum through volunteers alone. So that is an important question for us.” He added: “We are seeking contributions from government but we don’t know how successful that will be.”
IoT Alliance sets out vision and goals
The Baseline Understanding gives the organisation’s vision as being: “To be a leading IoT cross-sectoral industry body shaping and driving the advancement of IoT to harness for Australian industry the opportunities generated by the Internet of Things.”
It “Aims to define the IoT eco-system, inform and enable Australian (local and international) companies, academia and government to exploit the business opportunities afforded by IoT technology and services.”
Its initial goal is that by mid 2016 it will have “an activated, globally-aware Australian IoT industry community, with a future strategy and vision that is understood and supported by industry and key stakeholders and which positively influences the advancement of IoT and realisation of the opportunities and benefits it creates.”
As at 16 November, organisations represented on the council were: Alcatel Lucent; Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN); Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); Australian Industry Group (AiGroup); Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA); Department of Communications and the Arts; Communications Alliance; Creator Tech; Ericsson; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Huawei; IBM; Intel; Internet Australia; KPMG; Knowledge Economy Institute (KEi) (UTS); nbn; Telstra.
Others in the process of being appointed “as soon as practicable” were: ACCC; Amazon; Apple; Bosch Australia; Gilbert & Tobin; IDC; Netcomm Wireless; AIIA; AIMIA and “a number of target sector associations.” Council membership has, however, been capped at 30.
Workstreams up and running
Of the six workstreams proposed in the think tank’s report Zeichner said three were already in operation:
- Workstream one (collaboration), chaired by Chris McLaren, national sector leader, technology, media & telecommunications at KPMG, which is proving secretariat services for the group.
- Workstream three (open data and data sharing) chaired by Peter Leonard, partner in law firm Gilbert + Tobin
- Workstream 6 (startups and innovation) chaired by Murray Hurps, general manager of startup space Fishburners.
The other three — focussed on spectrum, security and sectoral engagement — are due to hold their first meetings in early February. All six will be required to contribute to a quarterly Workstream Review document where agreed milestones and achievements will be reported and the next milestones identified. The first of these is due in May 2016.
Zeichner said he would particularly like to see the Alliance focus on “The triple bottom line effect of IoT.” This concept, according to Wikipedia, was conceived by business author John Elkington in 1994 and is “an accounting framework with three parts: social, environmental (or ecological) and financial” that has been adopted by many organisations “to evaluate their performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value.”