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Internet of Things - Australian Internet Governance Forum part one

Last week I attended the Australian Internet Governance Forum in Melbourne, A focus on a competitive digital future for Australia. IGF started 10 years ago in Athens and is the product of negotiations between governments and an outcome of The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which realised that there are many other stakeholders involved in Internet governance not just governments.

Pablo Hinojosa was the Moderator for the first session I attended, with the topic of Internet of Things. Pablo is Director, Strategic Engagement at APNIC (APNIC is the Regional Internet address Registry (RIR) for the Asia Pacific region.)

He introduced the session by saying that ten years ago, when the World Summit was held, the main worry was getting people connected and the Internet had just reached 1 billion users. The Internet now reaches half the world’s population and there are six times more devices connected to internet than users - internet of things.

The purpose of the IGF is to have a safe place to have dialogue that is informal and interactive and a place where governments can interact with industry and civil society.

Members of the panel who discussed the Internet of Things (IoT) were Lorraine Tighe, City of Melbourne’s Smart City Office; Dr Kate Auty, ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment; Matthew Pryor, Co – founder Observant; Phil Goebel, CEO and Co-founder – Quanticare Technologies; and Scott Ceely, Managing Director, Seer Security.

Matthew Prior’s interests are in agribusiness, and he spoke about the use of Internet of Things (IoT) in regional areas, in particular in water management. The aim is to use devices to improve farmers’ decision making with better data sets. However, there are issues around connectivity in regional areas.

Phil Goebel started his talk with a story about his sister and her family visiting Disneyland and their experience of Disney’s magic band using this as an example of excitement around IoT. The magic band is taking physical experience and enhancing it and recognises there are multiple uses of the same data (eg for customers and management.) The magic band provides granular data about how the park is used and how long the lines are.

Healthcare is a very physical experience but data rich. There are no guidelines on who owns the data and how it is used. It depends on trust on how data is captured, stored and used and we need to start thinking about transparency so people know what personal data is being captured and how it is used.

Lorraine Tighe spoke about Melbourne’s Smart city innovation program. Data is a very big market and the City has been approached by a lot of vendors interested in obtaining the data. For example, parking sensors track data of people coming and going, and knows if you overstay. While not in real time yet it will be at the end of the year. She said that 30% of cars driving around the city are looking for a park and it is hoped that by providing information about where parking is available a lot of congestion with be avoided.

The City Lab has been set up in the City of Melbourne which asks, what are the problems we need to solve and then how is IoT going to help to solve them? She suggests that data is the new oil.

Kate Auty talked about citizen scientists and gave as an example, the Atlas of Living Australia, where citizens are providing the data.

Scott Ceely talked about cyber security and asked “who is responsible for security? Vendor? User?” He said that this requires government regulation, with industry involved. The Australian Information Commissioner conducted survey of 45 companies distributing IoT - 75% are not meeting legal requirements. He gave the example of being able to unlock your garage door with your mobile phone, this can be hacked. He also discussed privacy and the issues around data being collected for one reason can be used for other reasons down the track.

General discussion then followed questions from the audience.

  • Batteries are a real challenge and standards for IoT have to be low power and IoT has to be low power.

  • Relevant standards - keeping things connected is as important as getting them connected

  • Security / qualifications framework is needed - for IT security. People want the convenience, don't think of security / privacy but governments have a duty of care.

  • Governments need to be quite open about how data will be used and as much as possible share data and make it open.

  • The general comment was that while this session was about the Internet of Things, most of the discussion was centred around data.

  • A comment was made about the community’s readiness for IoT. There was an example of a medical practice that is still using paper records, and has no internet. There is a huge gulf and difference for digital readiness indeed a system of gulfs - both connectivity and peoples’ readiness.

  • Consumers assume that there is the same degree of safety for electrical appliances as devices, this is not so.

Summing up this session was a list of what people need to know in relation to the Internet of Things:

  • Know the value of your data

  • Know who has access to it

  • Where it is in the globe

  • How well it is protected

  • Who is protecting it

The example of the Dollar Shave Club was given. This started as a small online company that delivered razors and other personal grooming products straight to consumers by mail. It became very successful and was purchased by Unilever, who bought access to data that they would not otherwise have and the consumer has no control over the fact that the company was sold and Unilever now has their data.

The big takeaway from this session was that people must be better informed and more engaged.

#InternetGovernanceForum #InternetofThings #IoT

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