The Hill: Op-Ed: The Internet of Things has the potential to be the engine that powers our economy for decades to come
By Reps. Peter Welch and Bob Latta
From refrigerators that notify you when you’re out of milk, to agriculture sensors that give a farmer minute by minute updates on their field and crops, to cars that sense the need to slow down for pedestrians – there are many emerging markets within our digital ecosystem known as the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things encompasses a world where machines and physical objects are embedded with Internet connectivity and networked sensors allowing them to process data and communicate in real-time with their surrounding environment. These things, known as “smart” devices, are being adopted by millions of people across the country to achieve fitness goals, connect with doctors, and increase productivity in their everyday lives.
The Internet of Things, however, is much more than just a convenience technology. It has the potential to be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation, increased manufacturing jobs, streamlined business operations, and innovative advancements across all economic sectors.
Experts project the economic potential for the Internet of Things to be virtually limitless. According to McKinsey and Company, the Internet of Things offers a positive economic impact of $4 trillion to $11 trillion annually by 2025.
We’re already beginning to see industries lay the foundation to achieve that growth. In the energy sector, for example, Internet connectivity has been integrated into electric grids and utility infrastructure across the country. The data generated from this connectivity creates more accurate and timely insights for operators yielding a more efficient, reliable, secure, and less costly energy system. This means savings for families in Ohio, Vermont, and across the country when that electric bill comes due.
The health care sector is benefiting from the Internet of Things by increasing and improving patient access and quality of care with more precise, real-time information on a patient’s health. This information enables physicians to monitor, diagnose and treat patients around the clock in a more efficient way with improved outcomes.
The agriculture industry is utilizing the Internet of Things to transform crop yields on farmland. A farmer can use an Internet-connected tractor to gather data ensuring fields are better managed all year round.
Additionally, manufacturers are using data at job sites to maximize the input of each product, saving money and resources along the way. Increased connectivity within and between machines and devices offers consumers greater access to resources, services, and information at the touch of a finger.
As with the Internet today, privacy and cybersecurity are central tenets to ensuring the benefits of the Internet of Things are fully realized by consumers and businesses alike. Personal information must be protected and considered throughout the development and maturation of the Internet of Things.
It is essential that Members of Congress better understand the policy implications of this nascent industry while encouraging innovation that has unparalleled potential. It is also imperative that we proceed cautiously, focusing on better understanding and encouraging the secure development and deployment of smart devices, systems, and things.
That is why we have formed the Internet of Things bipartisan working group. We hope to bring Members of our committee up to speed on this technology and its impact on the modern economy and consumers.
The Internet of Things has the potential to be the engine that powers our economy for decades to come. Congress’ understanding and exploration of this next technology frontier will be critical to the lasting acceptance, growth, and prosperity of the Internet of Things.