The title says it all. The Federal Government has initiated an enquiry into “The benefits, challenges, and potential roles for the government in fostering the advancement of the Internet of Things.” It is seeking input on the current IoT technological and policy landscape with a goal of developing recommendations as to whether and how government should play a role in fostering the advancement of IoT technologies.
But before you get too excited, the Federal Government behind this praiseworthy initiative is, alas, not the Australian Federal Government but that of the USA.
The enquiry has been initiated by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as part of the Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Agenda. NTIA has issued a request for comment on questions posed by the growth of IoT. The Australian Government should take note and follow suit.
Note that the Department of Commerce is not necessarily advocating any particular government initiative or intervention, it is simply flagging the importance of the issue and therefore the need for government to canvass the full range of issues and consider what it needs to do.
However some specific actions have been identified. The RFC notes: “country specific strategies threaten the possibility of a global patchwork of approaches to IoT, which would increase costs and delay the launch of new products and services, dampening investment.” It says the US government will need to work with stakeholders to develop industry-driven solutions, but “thus far no US government agency is taking a holistic, ecosystem-wide view that identifies opportunities and assesses risks across the digital economy.”
Here’s what the DoC says in its press release announcing the enquiry. It would be wonderful if the Australian Government were at least saying the same things.
“The Internet of Things has quickly become one of the most important technological trends of this decade. It touches almost every industry and will transform our lives and society worldwide.”
“The explosive growth of connected devices promises both enormous benefits and complex challenges in areas such as health, safety, energy, security, and the environment.
“The broad range of connected devices, objects, and applications that make up the Internet of Things will have a major benefit in promoting economic growth.”
“The Department’s Digital Economy agenda is aimed at creating the right conditions that will help foster the growth of IoT in partnership with the private sector.”
There are 28 specific questions in the RFC on which comment is sought. The Australian Government should be asking every one of them.