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IoT: It Should Also Stand for Innovation of Thought

August 17, 2015 No Comments

Featured article by Leon Adato, Head Geek, SolarWinds

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic nearly everywhere. But in most discussions around the world, especially here in the United States, it’s reduced to a bullet point and a wave of the hand.

“Of course, IoT is going to have a huge impact,” industry pundits say.

Then usually everyone just nods their heads and goes along without any real discussion of what IoT actually is or isn’t, or what that impact will in reality look like.

This is why what’s happening in Brazil is so fascinating. You may not be aware, but Brazil’s federal government is considering the creation of a National Plan for Communication between Machines and the Internet of Things. The objectives of the plan include the promotion of standardization of IoT systems; the creation of legislation to address issues such as privacy, security and consumer rights in IoT services; and the launch of funding programs for IoT.

Thus, the dialogue in Brazil is much more cogent than most elsewhere. The country has started to actually define the enormous potential IoT has in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer markets, including utilities and sustainability, smart cities, industrial solutions, home automation and remote patient monitoring.

But it has gone beyond simply listing industries or sectors that might use IoT. With over 9 million Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections in the country, the Brazilian government needed to get specific, and they rose to the challenge:

- They identified 100 million utility-specific devices (electricity, water, gas) that, if IoT-enabled, could hasten the reality of smart metering, pre-payment and meter-to-cash.

- They called out that the 40 million cars on the road represent a huge opportunity for OEM and after-market connectivity and applications.

- Finally, with all Brazilian municipalities now responsible for managing their public street lights, they noted that a smart lighting project would cover over 15 million lamps across Brazil’s more than 5,500 cities, creating the opportunity for enormous cost savings.

Of course, many challenges come along with these opportunities. But Brazil is already wrestling with and putting structure around some of them.

Perhaps first and foremost, they’ve identified the need to reduce taxes on IoT devices—reducing or removing the taxes for M2M devices so they aren’t treated the same as full mobile phones. In addition and as mentioned earlier, the initiative is also seeking to address—again, at a federal level—requirements and regulations around security, privacy, standardization, consumer rights and more. While it is certainly true that government oversight and involvement doesn’t automatically guarantee good standards and regulation that benefits the consumer, having a conversation at all is far better than not.

That brings us to my next thought: Can Brazil really do this on its own?

Isn’t it possible that Brazil will end up with one set of standards that vendors must adhere to, and other countries will have other market- or vendor-driven and likely mutually incompatible sets of standards? After all, the history of IT is certainly littered with the lifeless husks of technologies that bear witness to this being a potential outcome.

The answer is yes, that is a possibility. But, as with cell phones, smart credit cards, the Internet and a handful of other technologies, it’s more likely that having an active discussion will lead to technologies that work well and that will supplant those other less-thoughtfully-considered versions when they show the inevitable signs of strain.

As an IT professional and someone who represents a company with the management, performance and overall success of IT at its heart, I’m excited to see that at least somewhere, IoT doesn’t just stand for the Internet of Things, but perhaps Innovation of Thought.

Here’s to hoping we in the rest of the world take note.

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