Friday, July 31, 2015

Congress Races to Embrace the Internet of Things


As industry charges ahead with the broad swath of technologies known as the Internet of Things (IoT), it appears that few industy players are paying attention to Congress and how public policy could impact big payoffs. The breakneck speed of IoT innovation is outpacing Congressional capacity to intake the breadth of change, let alone legislate such sweeping disruption. Yet this nascent, free-for-all moment in IoT history is exactly the right time for legislators to weigh in on what could be the most important paradigm shift in society since the Industrial Revolution.  The opportunities are massive; the responsibilities are great.  Congress is paying attention to IoT and, I would argue,  has a crucial role to play.


IoT offers unprecedented benefits. Cisco Systems estimates it represents a $19T global economic opportunity. Certainly US companies would like a healthy share of that. By connecting a plethora of previously non-connected devices, IoT also provides unparalleled potential for broad-scale research across many domains – medical, agricultural, energy, transportation, and environmental—the possibilities are vast. IoT is integral to the growth of connected Smart Cities, where we hold visions of things like intelligent traffic light management and parking meters to relieve mounting congestion. With consumer-based applications, the possibilities are virtually endless, connecting everything from your car to your refrigerator, your thermostat, your television, your bed, your keys, and your fitness devices.

In 2010 I founded a think tank, the Center for Public Policy Innovation (CPPI), dedicated to building collaboration between the public and private sectors on emerging technologies.  For several years, CPPI has been working to educate Congress on the opportunities and challenges surrounding IoT, and Members and their staff are listening.

In April, CPPI hosted a briefing and panel discussion on Capitol Hill for congressional staff entitled Internet of Everything: Trucks, Tractors, Training and Jobs.  Congressman Darrell Issa (CA-49), Co-Chair of the newly formed Congressional Internet of Things Caucus, addressed the standing room only crowd eager to learn more about IoT technology and what role, if any, public policy will play.  Chairman Issa stressed the need for more education among lawmakers to better understand the policy implications of these innovations and to provide Congress with the tools and knowledge they need to best promote economic prosperity and protect public safety. 

“[As congressional staff] you have to get smarter than your Members on new technologies, like the Internet of Things,” said Issa.  “A few of us get credit for being ‘used-to-be’s’ when it comes to new technologies, but the rapid rate of technological change is  outpacing our knowledge and it’s a struggle to keep up.  We need industry’s help to ensure that we know the issues and we don’t screw things up.”

Panelist Thomas Lehner, VP of Public Policy at the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, revealed that the ability to “cede control” to new vehicles will be operational by 2020. From a public policy perspective, will we be ready for self-driving cars in 5 years?

Don Hoffman, Chief Innovation Officer of Montgomery County, MD commented that “there is not one local public sector function which will not be disrupted by IoT.”   By example, he showcased the County’s Senior Living Facility which remotely examines air and water quality at senior living centers as part of a living lab. 

While such examples are promising, we are currently in the hype phase of the IoT adoption curve. For one thing, there are significant technology gaps to be overcome, and a lack of standards to do so. Manufacturers of the many sensor technologies that permit a device’s Internet Protocol (IP) connection are focused on their own proprietary technologies. At present, there is no industry body advancing a standards movement. Progressively, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has launched formal discussion of a Framework for Cyber-Physical Systems (that’s a fancy term for IoT) standards, in hopes of shaping early on an IoT ecosystem that is interoperable and secure. NIST anticipates publishing those standards some time in 2016, but adoption will be optional.

The gathering and analysis of voluminous data through “connected everything” is where the true payoff lies. At CPPI’s April forum, Cisco projected growth of connected devices from a current 15 billion to 50 billion by 2020. Big Data analysis from those 50 billion devices will be of interest to myriad private and public sector entities. Automated analytics capabilities have now significantly advanced to crunching not only traditional structured data (think rows and columns) but also voluminous and growing unstructured data coming through images, video, social media posts, and the like. The cross-referencing of that information is the font from where new revelations will come. Some will be generalized; others may be personally identifiable.

At the moment, the standards gap and a shortage of skilled talent somewhat limit the breadth of Big Data analysis, but there are very real applications already in place. For instance, the National Institutes of Health are offering a new portal enabling researchers to collaborate on highly specialized data related to patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Schools are skilling-up the workforce of tomorrow as quickly as possible, but it does take some time to gain both education and experience. Expect Big Data analytics to evolve and grow rapidly as a capable workforce develops.

Spectrum accessibility also comes into play. All of the data from connected devices must travel over the internet to its points of curation; much of it will travel via wireless transmission. Careful management of spectrum allocation is critical to keep all those connections flowing.

The two biggest areas of IoT concern involve data privacy and cyber security. A plethora of connected devices continually tracking user data in real time equals a dragnet of information being collected. The issue of personal privacy fills current headlines and is a huge concern. But consider also the implications of generating data that precisely reveals the location of dismounted soldiers in combat, the specific timing and location of municipal buses en route, safe campus video monitoring, or public health threat information, if any of that falls into the wrong hands.

NIST has gone so far as to call IoT indefensible. When everything is connected, there is no network perimeter and every point of connection is a point vulnerable to attack. For example, the massive November 2013 breach of Target Stores’ customer data resulted from back-door entry via their HVAC control system. Manufacturers of traditionally unconnected devices must now turn their attention to IP security – an issue most manufacturers probably have never contemplated. What they collect, about whom, where they store the collected data, and what they do with it, is a new frontier of opportunity and responsibility.

The foundations of federal involvement are beginning to emerge. In February of this year, U.S. Representatives Issa and Suzan Del Bene (WA-1) formed a Congressional Caucus on IoT to promote Member education.  In late July a House Judiciary Committee hearing on IoT organized by the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, witnesses and Members discussed the benefits and risks of IoT. Congressman Issa said he looks forward to a series of IoT hearings, an increasingly important dialogue as more and more IoT devices come to market.

In March, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (NE) to promote IoT for economic growth and consumer benefit. The resolution was strongly backed by three other Senators who had sponsored the first hearing on IoT in response to a detailed IoT report published by the Federal Trade Commission in January. This initial leadership must be applauded, but the conversation and learning need to advance quickly.

In June, Members of the bipartisan Congressional IoT Caucus including U.S. Sen. Fischer, and fellow U.S. Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Brian Schatz (HI) and Kelly Ayotte (NH), requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) determine the impact IoT technology has on the U.S. economy and end users. In a letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene Dorado, the Senators said they want to know if federal agencies already use the technology, and to coordinate IoT oversight as it is deployed within the government.

The senators also asked GAO to examine ways the platform can affect the privacy and security of consumer information and whether usage will lead to spectrum capacity opportunities and limitations. In addition, the Senators asked the agency to determine changes in federal law to better manage IoT.

The time is right for true public-private partnership to advance the IoT opportunity in a responsible way that balances the tremendous economic and social opportunity coming from IoT innovation with prudent restraint. CPPI encourages proactive engagement between our Congressional leaders and the tech community to ensure thoughtful policy that strengthens the hand of American industry while respecting our citizens’ rights and security. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Public Trust is Crucial to the Success of the Internet of Everything

The Internet of Everything (IoE) represents a revolution in connectivity that will fuel unprecedented economic growth and brings with it the potential for enormous societal benefits. It is creating a “connectivity economy” that brings together people, networks, and devices to generate greater efficiencies, improved reliability, new capabilities, and richer experiences.  The growth of IoE is happening at an accelerated rate as evidenced by the explosive growth of networks, big data, data analytics, cloud computing, and mobile applications and devices.
By some estimates, we can anticipate IoE to create between $14 trillion and $15 trillion in economic growth over the next decade, with the potential to increase corporate profits by nearly 21 percent in the same period. 
The rapid adoption, growth, and spread of IoE is inevitable.  But even as we see massive growth in IoE, we must also acknowledge and work to mitigate the considerable risk associated with these advances.  Reliable security and continued “public trust” in IoE are fundamental to the success of the IoE revolution.
Some of the more perplexing risks include the exponential growth of new attack vectors as more and more devices are plugged into the network, presenting new vulnerabilities, and the ability to remotely cause physical destruction - or death - through the Internet.
Public trust in security over the IoE infrastructure is critical to the successful proliferation and adoption of new technologies.  Would you climb aboard an autonomous vehicle if you didn’t trust the security of the platform?  Would you be comfortable with a fleet of autonomous UAVs flying overhead if you thought their security could be compromised?  Would you sleep well at night if you thought your home security system was hackable?
And what about SCADA systems that allow remote access and control of critical infrastructure at power plants, factories, water treatment facilities, and oil and gas pipelines?  Let’s not forget about systems that help manage airports, ports, and the space station.  Presently, the public generally has trust in the security of our critical infrastructures, but with the advance of IoE and the proliferation of devises with access to these systems, we must work to insure that new risks are mitigated and public trust is maintained.
This raises interesting public policy questions related to the proper of role of government in securing IoE.  One major function of government is leadership.  Government leadership is needed to convene stakeholders in a way that allows for the thoughtful creation of standards and protocols to address security, resilience, and recovery.  In the U.S., NIST has taken on that role by administering the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).  Going forward, government leadership will be needed to establish or designate a standing body to monitor and mitigate situations as they arise.
There are an infinite number of examples we can imagine where IoE vulnerabilities could be exploited, and with the rapid proliferation of IoE we must act soon to secure the platform or risk being overwhelmed by security gaps.  That’s why it is important to act now, in collaboration between the public and private sectors, to put in place the right security technologies, protocols, and public policy to protect the integrity and defend the public’s trust in IoE.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

CPPI is Proud to Announce the Futurist Policy Initiative!

What if cars drove themselves, lowering the number of deaths by automobile accidents from 43,000 a year to zero? What if our grandchildren could live to be 300 years old? Although this sounds like science fiction, it is the future, and the future is not that far away. Autonomous vehicles exist today and promise to revolutionize transportation, and with technology like organ printing and personalized medicine, the first Methuselah generation could be alive right now.

Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, experts, now called “futurists,” have made careers of forecasting disruptive technology and its application. Futurists then educate businesses and lawmakers on how to identify and adapt to these changes. Notable futurists like Dr. Ray Kurzweil (recently hired by Google) helped establish the Singularity University, an academic institution in California whose students and faculty study technology and policy that will reshape our future.
This is truly an exciting time for technology, but these are uncharted waters as far as policy is concerned. Lawmakers must be educated to ensure they are not caught off guard by new tech and its policy implications.  Policy also plays a tremendous role in fostering innovation, and the Center for Public Policy Innovation’s  (CPPI) Futurist Policy Initiative will ensure that legislators understand the advances underway so as not to stifle progress, whether it is in the form of outdated regulation, or a lack of policy.
By working with futurists, and leveraging its relationship with the Hill, CPPI is positioned to bring the future to policy leaders in Washington while elevating true and visionary thought leadership. A number of groups in Washington are focused on immediate policy concerns, but what about the bigger picture? Who is looking to the future and identifying the policy concerns of the revolutionary technology that lies ahead?
Through a series of panel discussions featuring futurists, innovators, and a variety of stakeholders, CPPI will begin socializing concepts and technology foreign to the Hill and the policy implications of disruptive technology. These discussions among stakeholders will help guide the framework for in depth policy research.  The resulting body of work will act as a unique resource for lawmakers and their staff enabling them to address the remarkable strides in technology with enlightened public policy that fuels innovation and economic growth.
CPPI will launch the Futurist Policy Initiative with a program focused on the Internet of Everything (IoE). Today, I’m proud to release our white paper-Future of Connectivity: Internet of Everything- that provides a look at the economic, societal, and environmental promise IoE holds while exploring the policy areas surrounding this transformational technology.
CPPI is partnering with Cisco - a world leader in IoE thought leadership - to host a policy workshop dedicated to IoE on the Hill this fall. I encourage you to stay tuned for more event information during this exciting time!

Friday, April 19, 2013


Dear Friends,
As the Center for Public Policy Innovation (CPPI) works to generate sensible policy solutions through educational platforms that fortify collaboration between the public, private, and academic sectors, we invite you to help frame our dialogue. Advances in technology are vital to America’s economy, competitiveness, security and more. Our mission is to foster an environment where technological innovation flourishes, and a crucial element in creating this atmosphere is smart public policy. Securing America’s legacy of greatness is a shared responsibility, and CPPI welcomes you to join in our mission.
We’re developing our social media platforms to better engage our community. CPPI will be covering Big Data Week via Facebook and Twitter April 22-28. We invite you to join the conversation. Let us know what you’re thinking, and what you’d like to know more about!
Make a Difference Today!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Supercharging the U.S. Economy: Where Both Parties Agree

According to the 2012-2013 Global Competitiveness Report released in September by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the U.S. fell two positions down to number seven in the global competitiveness ranking. That’s our fourth straight year of decline. With all the pre-election rhetoric, it’s sometimes easy to forget that ultimately, we’re all on Team USA.

Beneath the finger pointing and talking points, both parties agree on some very crucial policy issues that, if addressed, would help secure our nation’s legacy of greatness by enhancing our competitiveness in the global economy. Let’s put aside the assertions that the path to achieving our nation’s goals is split down party lines, and take a look at our commonalities. This is the first and necessary step to supercharge the U.S. economy.

A side by side comparison of the Democratic and Republican platforms reveal shared perspectives in the areas of corporate tax reform; manufacturing; education reform; small businesses; Internet freedom; technology; and infrastructure.

These issues have one thing in common; they all have a direct impact on our country’s ability to remain a competitive player in the 21st century global economy. Let’s start by examining the current U.S. corporate tax code. Not only is our corporate tax rate the highest among developed nations, the U.S. operates under a worldwide tax system while most of our trading partners have adopted a territorial system so that profits earned and taxed abroad may be repatriated for job-creating investment at home without an additional tax penalty.

Both parties agree the playing field for American companies must be leveled by way of corporate tax reform. The Republican platform supports the Administration’s Export Council’s proposal of switching to a territorial system of corporate taxation, and both platforms favor lowering the corporate tax rate for American companies is an action both parties advocate.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Advanced Manufacturing Vital to U.S. Competitiveness

According to Nobel Prize winner, Robert Solow, technological innovation makes up at least 80 percent of a nation’s economic growth and increase in living standards.[i] So why is it, during these trying times, that manufacturing, one of the key forces behind innovation, is suffering at the hands of outdated public policy while other nations forge ahead? The United States is responsible for every major advance in science and engineering since World War II, whether in semiconductors, aerospace, computing, telecommunications, and the Internet.[ii] These feats were made possible by public policy that fostered an ecosystem where inventiveness flourished.

Take for instance the government funded research that led to the creation of the Internet, or an immigration policy that allowed us to bring the best and brightest to our shores to work for American companies. Our manufacturing base was a point of pride and gave rise to a thriving middle class. But somewhere along the line, the trajectory of American progress plateaued, and our rank as a global leader is at risk unless Washington adopts public policies that are pro-growth and pro-innovation.

For the first time in three years, U.S. manufacturing contracted, but advanced manufacturing of products like semiconductors on American soil has been declining for years. I find this trend troubling, because if the United States isn’t making high tech products and reaping the benefits of innovation (job creation, intellectual property, capital formation, national security, etc.), another nation is.

Change, particularly in the way of corporate tax reform, will re-strengthen American advanced manufacturing and reinvigorate the innovative spirit that defines the United States.

The semiconductor industry provides a great case study for understanding the important role of advanced manufacturing. Semiconductors are embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives. They’re in our television sets, computers, printers, cellphones, and countless other devices. The U.S. once made up 100 percent of global chip production capacity, but that number is steadily declining as production moves overseas. In 2009, the percentage of global semiconductor production capacity in the United States was 14 percent, down from 25 percent in 2005 and 17 percent in 2007.

Intel is in the process of building a $5 billion chip factory in the Arizona desert, called Fab 42, but according to a recent Reuter’s article, “Many technology executives worry that Intel's new factory is less a sign of things to come than the last gasp of an advanced manufacturing sector that could readily go the way of its lower-tech predecessors -- to Asia.”