Tweet Data, Industry

Connecting Devices to Connect Society

Most of us use the Internet to communicate, but we’re not alone – our appliances now use it too. It all began in 1990 when someone hooked up a toaster to the Internet to control it remotely. Since then, innovators have been exploring how to link devices to the Internet in order to improve our world, from programming thermostats to growing the global economy. By simply connecting the “things” we use in our daily lives, intelligence can be derived from the world around us.

This community of connected, talking devices called the Internet of Things (IoT) is still in its infancy and we just at beginning of what can be achieved. Software.org: the BSA Foundation’s new report, “Sensor Sensibility: Getting the Most From the Internet of Things,” identifies some of the possibilities of IoT and shows policymakers and industry leaders what they can do to maximize its benefits.

By adding software to everyday things (thermostats, alarm clocks, and even coffee pots) and bringing them together through the Internet, IoT can make our individual lives easier. If your basement is flooding, sensors in your home can send an alert to your phone so you can quickly fix it. If you have a pacemaker and your condition changes, the implant can notify your physician for more immediate care.

IoT has applications across the economy that can benefit all society. Many cities already use connected devices to optimize traffic flow, reduce pollution, and cut crime rates. From resource-saving solutions like sensors that allow farmers to carefully target everything from fertilizer to irrigation, to life-saving solutions like connected vehicles that could drastically reduce traffic fatalities, IoT will help address society’s biggest challenges.

The potential for connected devices is enormous, and Software.org’s report identifies what government officials and business leaders can do to support these emerging technologies. For example, as the number of software-enabled devices continues to grow, governments should prioritize computer science education to equip students with the skills to program them. On industry’s side, companies can help build user trust by incorporating security measures into the devices at the outset and by making them flexible enough for needed upgrades. And governments and companies both should come together to create global standards to guide the design of sensors and secure products. In short, we need smarter policies to accompany these smart devices.

IoT advances are spreading quickly, but we’ve only seen a fraction of what it has to offer. Just as Alexander Graham Bell hardly could have imagined how his telephone would develop into today’s smartphones, IoT will continue to transform our world in as yet unimagined ways. IoT presents an incredible opportunity for people, businesses, governments, and society. Software.org is ready to work with innovators and policymakers to create an environment that enables this opportunity to come to fruition.

Chris Hopfensperger

Author:

As the founding executive director of Software.org, Chris Hopfensperger will lead the foundation’s efforts to help policymakers and the general public better understand the impact that software has on our lives, our economy, and our society. He also will translate the foundation’s philanthropic and forward-looking agenda into efforts to address key issues facing the software industry.

Previously, Hopfensperger was a Senior Director, Global Policy at BSA | The Software Alliance. In that role he worked with BSA members to develop and advance the organization’s positions on technology law and regulation across markets. Hopfensperger conceived and helped produce a series of groundbreaking policy papers including the BSA Global Cloud Computing Scorecard, a tool for helping policymakers craft the right legal and regulatory environment for adopting the emerging technology. He advised members in such critical policy areas as cybersecurity, privacy, and encryption.

Hopfensperger has worked with industry representatives and government officials in numerous markets, and he has spoken on the intersection of policy and technology in several key capitals including Bangkok, Brussels, Beijing, Delhi, Seoul, and Tokyo.

Prior to joining BSA, Hopfensperger served as a technology and trade policy associate in the DC office of a large global law firm. While there, he advised companies and industry associations on pursuing legislation and representing their issues before Congress and the federal agencies and in the courts. Previously, Hopfensperger worked for more than a decade as a newspaper writer and editor, including at The Washington Post, The Sacramento Bee, and the St. Petersburg Times. Hopfensperger holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *