On 12 January 2017 , the US Department of Commerce released a report proposing steps the department can take to advance the Internet of Things. The report introduces the Internet of Things (IoT) as a technological development that is becoming very relevant in the contemporary world. IoT impacts the way people live and work, and represents a trend of increasing connectivity between our devices and the internet, which brings almost everything online. At the same time, the report shows that IoT involves a widening scope of industries and activities, and a vastly increasing breadth, and number, of devices being connected. This raises the stakes, and the level of impact, of broad connectivity.
The report examines the benefits and challenges of the evolving IoT landscape and suggests that the US government should continue to foster an enabling environment for innovative technology to grow and to thrive.
The report identifies four broad areas of engagement related to IoT:
- Enabling Infrastructure Availability and Access: Fostering the physical and spectrum-related assets needed to support IoT growth and advancement.
- Crafting Balanced Policy and Building Coalitions: Removing barriers and encouraging coordination and collaboration; influencing, analysing, devising, and promoting norms and practices that will protect IoT users while encouraging growth, advancement, and applicability of IoT technologies.
- Promoting Standards and Technology Advancement: Ensuring necessary technical standards are developed and in place to support global IoT inter-operability and that the technical applications and devices to support IoT continue to advance.
- Encouraging Markets: Promoting the advancement of IoT through Department usage, application, and novel usage of the technologies; and translating the economic benefits and opportunities of IoT to foreign partners.
The prospective benefits of IoT to personal convenience, public safety, efficiency, and the environment are stated in the report. It mentions that IoT has the potential to make highways safer by enabling connected vehicles to interact with each other to prevent accidents, to make quality health care more accessible through remote monitoring devices and telehealth practices for those who cannot easily travel, and to reduce waste and improve efficiency both in factory supply chains, and in the running of cities. The report shows that IoT even has the potential to create new industries and consumer goods that have yet to be imagined. The report points to the fact that for its full potential to be realised, the necessary policies for IoT must be put in place, including strategies to respond to challenges raised in areas such as cybersecurity and privacy.
The discussions about the advancement of the Internet of Things are significant for the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC RI), since IoT may well be regarded as a very enabling environment for trans-border infrastructure mega-projects. The DOC RI has chosen to put substantial effort into developing the research project ‘Infrastructure as the Backbone of Global Inclusive Development,’ which includes analysis and studies on social and economic projects, responsible financing, human capital, and environmental programmes. Another DOC RI research project, ‘Policies, Institutions, and Progress for Global Inclusive Development’, is also related to issues raised by IoT, in relation to effective guidelines being designed to renew and foster partnership and cooperation between international institutions, the private sector, and civil society. IoT provides many new opportunities to support fundamental development activities in major areas like primary education, basic health services, clean water and sanitation, agriculture, business climate improvements, and institutional reforms.
Moreover, it is important to follow the latest achievements related to the advancement of new technologies worldwide. The opportunities that are provided by these emerging technologies are fascinating. Will the world be more predictable with the emerging Internet of Things landscape? Or could developments of technologies in this way unintentionally provide a tool for possible surveillance and control campaigns, whose global aims could be regarded as obscure and controversial? At this point, technology meets the ethical challenges of the contemporary era. This juncture provides opportunities to implement the insights and methodology of the Dialogue of Civilisations approach in further research aimed at supporting a peaceful and prosperous space for the communication and interaction for all nations. As the Vice President of the Educational & Technical Services Material Handling Industry of America, Dr. Michael Ogle, remarked in 2009, “the world is not predictable – isn’t it about time to design logistics systems to act like it?” It has taken eight years for the world to act on his remark.