10 Policy Principles to Unlock the Internet of Things

The Center for Data Innovation has released recommendations for policymakers to maximize the benefits of the Internet of Things.

by / December 9, 2014
A new report spotlights 10 principles to help make the Internet of Things thrive. Shutterstock

A new report suggests that if elected officials want to fully harness the power of the Internet of Things, they must draft policy that maximizes the impact that machine-to-machine communication can have on economic growth and social well-being.

Daniel Castro and Joshua New write in 10 Policy Principles for Unlocking the Potential of the Internet of Things, that policymakers must take an active role to ensure the Internet of Things’ growth. Released last week by the Center of Data Innovation, the report outlines the steps legislators can take to establish programs to accelerate the adoption of Internet-connected devices throughout the U.S.

Castro is director of the Center for Data Innovation and a senior analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. New is a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation.

In an email to Government Technology, Castro explained the challenge was to identify principles that could be used by government officials to tackle the issues they face in regard to the Internet of Things.

“We looked across many different industries to see what was working now and where improvements were needed, and we looked back at what the government has done in the past to support technology deployments that have been successful,” Castro wrote. “The end result are principles that we believe can help policymakers address their specific situations.”

The 10 principles are:

  1. Chart the Course for Adoption: Every nation should develop a strategic road map to guide the deployment and adoption of the Internet of Things.
  2. Lead by Example: The government should be an early adopter of the Internet of Things to demonstrate the benefits of the technology.
  3. Look to Partnerships to Overcome Obstacles: Many Internet of Things projects will benefit from government agencies establishing partnerships with both the private sector and others in government.
  4. Reduce Regulatory Barriers and Delays for Getting Smart Devices to Market: A lengthy and cumbersome regulatory review process that increases the time to market for smart devices can discourage entrepreneurs from developing new and potentially lifesaving products.
  5. Minimize the Regulatory Cost of Data Collection: Policymakers should create laws and regulations that allow businesses and governments to build products and services efficiently, using the highest-quality, most complete data possible.
  6. Make it Easy to Share and Reuse Data: The Internet of Things will generate an unprecedented quantity of data, and policymakers should be careful not to equate simple data sharing with harmful misuse.
  7. Relentlessly Pursue Better Data: With ever-higher-quality sensors and an increasing number of them, the Internet of Things allows for the capture of an unprecedented quantity and quality of data. Policymakers should continue to invest in opportunities to collect more granular, timely and complete data.
  8. Reduce the “Data Divide”: Policymakers should encourage widespread adoption of connected devices to close the “data divide” — the social and economic inequalities that may result from a lack of collection and use of data about an individual or community.
  9. Use Data to Tackle Hard Problems: While the Internet of Things offers many economic benefits, policymakers need to ensure that opportunities to use these devices to address
    important social issues, such as health care and public safety, are also a top priority.
  10. Where Rules are Needed to Protect Consumers, Keep Them Narrow and Targeted: Policymakers should be extremely cautious about regulating on the basis of purely speculative concerns, especially when doing so might curtail substantial economic and social benefits, many of which are already being realized today.

The report calls the 10 principles a “blueprint for Internet of Things policies,” and notes that the success of the Internet today can be credited partially to lawmakers who actively worked to ensure its growth. Castro and New call for the same approach to be applied to the Internet of Things.

Of the 10 principles, Castro said he felt No. 9 -- Use Data to Tackle Hard Problems -- was the one policymakers should adhere to above all others. He added that the goal for elected officials should be to make the world a better place by tackling issues such as health care, transportation and the environment.

“The Internet of Things has an important role to play by enabling data-driven innovation that can be used to address these problems,” Castro said. “Solutions like wearable devices can help improve health outcomes for patients, and roadway sensors can help create smart transportation systems that cut down on traffic and pollution while improving safety.”

Brian Heaton

Brian Heaton was a writer for Government Technology magazine from 2011 to mid-2015.