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Officials Push Support of IoT as Trend Accelerates

Neil Strother
Apr 06, 2016


Your neighbors and mine might not recognize the Internet of Things (IoT) trend just yet, but signs of market acceleration continue to abound. Even politicians are awakening to the value of increasingly connected devices—and not just officials in the United States. At the same time, tech companies persist in their efforts to harness the trend.

A bipartisan group of four U.S. senators recently issued a statement through the influential Consumer Technology Association (CTA) website calling for “a more comprehensive and robust national strategy that encourages development of the Internet of Things and enable our government to be leaders in adoption of these new tools.” The four senators—Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Deb Fischer (R-NE)—are seeking “comprehensive federal policies that balance stakeholder concerns with connectivity, innovation, security and privacy concerns.” The senators are doubling down on a resolution they passed last year that called for “a comprehensive strategy to spur growth of the Internet of Things.”

In India, too, politicians are seizing the moment to push the IoT. Cabinet members in the state of Andhra Pradesh have approved a first-of-its-kind policy that calls for turning the state into an IoT hub by 2020. The officials envision active participation with private sector companies and the creation of 50,000 jobs in different IoT verticals.

Increasing Interoperability

Among technology companies, ongoing activity paves the way for greater interoperability among IoT products and services. Heavyweights Microsoft and Qualcomm recently joined the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), an industry standards body aimed at creating IoT solutions and devices that work seamlessly. The OCF is the new name of what used to be called the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC). Qualcomm joining this group turned a few heads, since the OIC (now OCF—keeping up?) was cofounded by rival chipmaker Intel. It would appear the two chipmakers have come to some sort of peaceful coexistence, which bodes well for reducing IoT silos. Nonetheless, fragmentation will persist, as key players such as Amazon, Alphabet (Google/Nest), and Apple are not among the current 167 OCF members.

Another important group, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), has unveiled details of a new specification for IoT devices that would allow them to communicate with greater energy efficiency. The Bluetooth SIG said its new Transport Discovery Service (TDS) could be used for conserving battery life in a device. This might appear to be a small step forward, but when billions of devices—many of them operating on batteries—join the IoT ecosystem, saving energy becomes critical to success.

Connected Consumers

Consumers themselves see the value of connected devices, even if they don’t recognize them as part of the IoT trend. Among respondents to an online Harris Poll of 2,225 adults, 11% said they owned a smart thermostat, and 9% said they had a smart, wireless home security-monitoring system. Moreover, one of the hotter in-home IoT devices is Amazon’s Echo. Exact sales figures for the Echo are not available, but some estimates indicate it has outpaced speakers sold by rivals. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak is a big fan, calling the Echo the “next big platform for the near future.”

For utilities, harnessing the IoT trend presents a growing challenge that many have yet to face. As customers adopt IoT hardware and software solutions behind the meter, utilities need a strategy for services that can keep them relevant and not just bystanders. Navigant Research's new IoT Enabled Managed Services report provides some context and an IoT strategy for utilities to follow. There's no point in being like those neighbors who just get sucked along and miss out on the opportunities.