In 2015 the internet of things (IoT) was right at the top of Gartner’s Hype Cycle ‘peak of inflated expectations’. A sort of ‘all mouth and trousers’ position. But things move fast in IT.

The 2016 version has seen the tag actually disappear completely - although the ‘IoT platform’ is slowly climbing from the ‘innovation trigger’ position towards the dizzy heights of ‘inflated expectations’.

What does this mean? Probably that the idea of legions of interconnected devices is well-embedded now, and we should expect to see some interesting applications move into the mainstream - beyond the connected-home type stuff, at least.  

Practical applications will have an impact of society - so BCS is interested. Beyond connected fridges and energy management there are intelligent transportation and driverless cars; a huge variety of health applications, such as remote patient monitoring; the underpinnings of truly smart cities; personalised smart wearables and more.

Useful insight is but an IP address and a bit of big-data crunching away.

With that in mind, BCS and IoTUK have produced a new report: ‘Accelerating The Internet of Things In The UK - Using Policy to Support Practice’ to examine the policy implications of IoT developments, and it highlights a number of priority topics for further consideration.

David Evans, Director of Policy of this parish, draws attention to the importance of assessing the  ‘legal, moral and ethical issues surrounding adoption. Not only must we get privacy and security right in order to realise the benefits, we need to understand and evaluate whether the realities of deployment are consistent with the social good we’re aiming for. There are numerous challenges around, trust, data privacy and security that, while not new, are incredibly heightened by this technology. Government has to look at this strategically and in a broader context rather than simply responding to individual issues. The aim of this report is to support a process for policy feedback that will inform the development and adoption of the IoT in the UK.’

This could be misread as being at the drier end of a burgeoning tech phenomenon, but, as Salil Gunashekar, the report’s lead author and a senior analyst at RAND Europe, says, ‘IoT has the potential to offer positive benefits to UK society and the economy, but there are a variety of issues that could affect its development and adoption. One of the aims of the report is to ... present a set of policy actions that can help shape how people, the public sector and the private sector make IoT work for all of society.’

And making sure these technologies benefit society as fully as possible is where we are at...

RAND - Accelerating the Internet of Things in the UK: Using Policy to Support Practice

Download the main report

Download the reseach brief

About the author

Brian Runciman is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.