By Eric Openshaw, Vice Chairman and U.S. Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry Leader, Deloitte LLP
I think we can all agree that the real value of all the data captured by Internet of Things devices and sensors hinges on being able to connect it with other data across disparate systems. But in addition to the question of interoperability between systems, connecting data creates two big problems: privacy and security. The challenge is to connect and share data across silos to make it useful and generate new, actionable insights while still protecting privacy and security. This is a challenge shared by potential adopters, providers and individuals - whoever figures this out will reap the benefits and create great value. The resolutions - to interoperability, privacy, and security - will determine whether the optimistic predictions become a reality.
We recently gathered leaders from industry and academia to discuss these challenges and how they might be overcome to create an IoT "ecosystem" where everyone benefits. The group largely agreed that, rather than try to define standards and regulations in advance, the protocols and societal aspects around issues like interoperability and security can only be worked out through trial and error. Embedded in this concept is the idea of a time window of permission during which participants can make mistakes without being penalized as they experiment and iterate through possible solutions. Within these test beds, a variety of organizations can come together to work out solutions for problems no one group has the expertise or access to solve alone.
It is within these test beds that public-private partnerships can also develop and mature. For example, local governments already collect a lot of data through sensors and reports that can be anonymized and made public for participants to work on to solve civic problems (traffic, crime, livability).
But, how do we create IoT test beds and what do they look like? I recently discussed these considerations in a Wired Innovation Insights blog. In summary:
- It must look impossible and engage the imagination in ways that incremental industrial improvement does not - perhaps a problem that has been intractable for years but might be reachable now as a result in cloud, mobile, processing performance, and storage.
- It should have the potential to become self-funding and is immediately relevant, ideally by addressing a need shared by the defense or public sectors to garner resources and urgency - for example, transportation solutions that can almost immediately generate cost savings that fund further development of traffic solutions that save lives.
- It should be crafted such that the solution will be disruptive - the most exciting growth potential for IoT is through disruption rather than uses that lead to incremental cost improvements, and these types of challenges will make the collaborative effort worthwhile by advancing the entire industry.
The possibilities are wide open for the Internet of Things to transform our personal and professional lives, not to mention the way our large institutions operate and interact with us, but many questions must be addressed. Will laissez faire prevail in the near term or will regulators and legislators try to control the risks before the industry itself understands them? Who should create the test beds and who will bring collaborators together to resolve interoperability, privacy, and security?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.