Internet of ThingsThe federal government is seeking feedback regarding what kind of role it should take in fostering the development of the Internet of Things (IoT).  This week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) put out a request for public comment, announcing the Department of Commerce has made growing the IoT sector a top priority.  

The inquiry to the public is intended to help inform the department’s Digital Economy Agenda by gaining a better perspective of the tech and policy landscape that will impact IoT. NTIA considers the Internet of Things as a broad term used to describe “the connection of physical objects, infrastructure, and environments to various identifiers, sensors, networks and/or computing capability.”  Popular devices include fitness trackers, home automation tools, and smart devices that allow you to monitor progress and manage your environment via mobile apps.

NTIA hopes to receive feedback from private industry, researchers, academia, and the public sector.  Questions include:

  • Are there new challenges and opportunities coming from the IoT sector that differ from existing technologies?
  • How should we define the IoT landscape and why?
  • How do current policies and regulations apply to IoT and should IoT be divided/classified to improve public policy for different areas?
  • What technological issues could hinder IoT (including network infrastructure); how will IoT place demands on these things; and how might the government help infrastructures evolve to meet demand?
  • How should we assess and measure the IoT’s impacts on the economy?
  • Will IoT have impacts on industrial manufacturing, supply chains, or agriculture, and how should the government manage international engagement?
  • What impacts will IoT have on the workforce?
  • How should the government prepare for cybersecurity concerns, privacy concerns, and consumer protection issues?
  • Does IoT have the potential to affect economic inequality or help disadvantaged groups and rural communities?
  • How will broadband access impact IoT and how will IoT impact access?

This forward thinking action indicates policy makers are hoping to be prepared for growth of IoT.  The sector has seen massive growth already, with 10 billion devices connected to the Internet in 2015, and between 34 (according BI Intelligence) and 50 billion (according to Cisco) devices expected to connect by 2020.  Such growth will dramatically increase demand for fiber infrastructure, a concern that seems to be on the minds of the Department of Commerce and NTIA given their questions regarding infrastructure.

Comments are due 45 days following the notice posted April 6th (Mid May).  The full notice and directions for submitting comments can be found here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-07892.pdf