The headline reads just right as software development is deemed by many as being among the most dynamic industries worldwide where things are changing like never before. Even the industry insiders don’t vouch for the success of a current trend as it has the propensity to change overnight. Internet of Things (IoT) is growing at a blistering pace. And it’s not just about computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones anymore. You will find a plethora of devices that are internet connected starting from washing machines to robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys and even toasters. All thanks to the new umbrella term that is used for anything that connects to the internet; IoT.
It may quite interest you to know that IoT even plays to two of Europe’s foremost strengths:
- A sophisticated industrial sector
- A proliferation of advanced mobile networks
As a result, Europe gets a golden opportunity to lead the world in the field of development with a new breed of digital services. Now the technology is not a niche or fringe sector, therefore it is supposed to have a profound impact on all aspects of society as well as the economy. Right from connected cars that reduce insurance premiums, to energy meters that automate central heating, to watches that track our health and the list goes on. According to Gartner, a typical family home in a mature affluent market could have more than 500 smart devices by 2022. In addition to this, the European Commission estimates that by 2020 the number of IoT connections within the EU will reach almost six billion, with a market value exceeding €1 trillion. Although it is undeniably fascinating but it can get further as scary at an equivalent time.
After all, the new and diverse looking ecosystem will highly depend on the ubiquity of intelligent and reliable mobile networks. Even though it is the nascent technology, mobile networks have already started connecting with millions of machines and devices to the internet every month. Moreover, these networks need to be capable enough to cope with the different connectivity requirements of devices. As some might require fast, high-capacity connections while others may require a small amount of bandwidth which is reliable and low-cost.
In the present scenario, industry-led developments help at the technical level, there are still concerns about how existing EU and national regulations apply to IoT. We all are well aware regarding the fact that how the European IoT market is fragmented across different EU regulations and the union’s 28 different member states. In order to overcome the lack of a single and uniform regulatory framework and guarantee a genuine digital single market, they have started working against Europe’s long-term commercial and societal interests.
So what needs to be done?
Down-below I would like to mention few actions that policymakers must take into account
First, IoT being a popular technology traded across borders requires more than one authorization regime in the EU. It should follow a simple, yet well-established, rule: if a product and service can be launched in one member state, it should be allowed to be launched in all of the EU.
Second, EU regulations need to be proportionate. I mean some consumer requirements are irrelevant, for example- An IoT device that monitors a parking space to be subject to number portability and emergency calling regulations. Does this make any sense? Earlier, these regulations were designed for a time where only individuals communicated with each other. Today, the story is entirely different.
Third, in the upcoming years, you will see numerous established companies competing with new “IoT native” players on a massive scale. That’s the benefit of being the big player in the market. At the same time, any regulation both applies equally to all players, thereby ensuring a level playing field. Currently, any connected IoT device or service should be regulated the same way, irrespective of the manner in which it is connected or what type of firm is providing the connection.
Fourth, fast and reliable communications networks are the platform on which the entire IoT ecosystem will be built. And seeing how mobile networks play the crucial role, industry-specific policies must be taken into account. This is particularly pertinent to automotive and aviation sectors where legislation is being revised with the advent of connected cars and drones.
Last but certainly not the least, Citizens, as well as businesses, must be confident that IoT devices are reliable and secure. Security cannot be an afterthought. All products and services introduced in the EU market should be subject to a minimum set of security requirements.