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Will there be a global standard for IoT?

February 15, 2016

John Hayduk   

Blog Contributor

The roll out of smart cities is now a priority for e-government policy makers – creating cities that are more energy-efficient, sustainable and capable of supporting a huge population. The biggest challenge for them in the next two years will be that IoT technologies, networks and enterprises move faster than regulatory bodies.

Regulatory items will be outpaced by IoT deployments at a public and enterprise level, accelerating the need for policy making around legislation and insurance. For example, before self-driving cars become ubiquitous, there are questions to be answered around liability and insurance.

Who is liable for an accident? Is it the driver, the car manufacturer or the company that wrote the software used by the vehicle? Furthermore, who requires insurance in each of these cases? The reality is, the technology required to manufacture a self-driving car has already been developed, but we may still be some way off developing suitable standards and regulations to govern them on public highways.

Another hurdle on the way to a truly connected world is that there will be no global standard for the IoT – the technologies involved are simply too broad. For policy makers and organisations driving towards establishing IoT standardisation, regulations will have to be limited to certain categories and/ or specific industry verticals.

For example, while developing standards around smart grids is no easy feat, it is more manageable ‘category’ than ‘all encompassing’ for IoT, and this approach can positively impact IoT rollouts across cities and enterprises over the next five years.

IoT traffic must be treated differently

Like cloud and mobility in the enterprise, IoT rollouts are set to challenge and complicate the network infrastructure that will power smart cities. A failure of M2M communications within an IoT ecosystem, such as a smart city, could result in anything from a fitness tracker not syncing with a smartphone to a loss of notification for some event from a patient being monitored.

Therefore, policy makers need to start thinking about IoT traffic differently to traditional data traffic, due to the potentially disastrous consequences of a network failure on electric grids, transport systems, and future healthcare.

IoT data must be tiered and prioritised based on whether it is critical (health care) or non-critical (Netflix). As cities become smarter in 2016 and beyond, these kinds of debates will come to the fore. What there is no argument about, is that the pace of change with IoT technologies will accelerate over the next five years with more and more smart cities, enterprise and  consumer offerings rolling out across the world.

In my next post, I will continue to discuss data defined policy. In the meantime, read my previous post on the future of wired connections.