Brian Back, Managing Director and Founder of Radio Data Networks Limited, on the misinformation concerning IoT, why it’s important to educate the market to ask the right questions, and who is actually responsible should it all go wrong?
Has anybody stopped to think about the consequences of IoT (Internet of things) and what it could mean to us all? The reality is we don’t really know, however if you read the media at present it seems to be a one-sided story with everybody talking about IoT as the holy grail to save the world; with little mention of how it works, the controlling powers and vested interests behind it.
As a hardened user of radio spectrum since the 1980’s and being personally behind the design and deployment of some of the largest and/or Mission Critical monitoring projects in Europe, I cannot help but express concerns over the current level of misinformation flying around concerning IoT. Countless presentations feature pictures with high-risk items such as aircraft and trains prominent. Nobody seems to publicly state the risks and to draw a line in the sand beyond which life is too critical for the IoT as it stands. Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti IoT but rather trying to educate the market into thinking and asking the right questions before committing.
As I recently stated to a couple of fans of IoT at a conference who worked for one of the big network providers who accused me of being a Luddite, my answer was simple “if it is a good as you say it is then give out Service Level Agreements to your customers”. Of course the conversation stopped there. The reality is to deliver IoT there are too may players in the chain, perhaps a dozen but nobody actually knows. Further, there is no control it seems over the radio spectrum being used, anybody can and does use for all sorts of applications from garage doors to RFID readers. Already at a recent security expo I saw an IoT jammer being advertised.
I think the ultimate question is who actually is responsible should it all go wrong? The answer may be rather unpalatable as it could be you as the decision maker. In particular, if lives are lost or for example the environment is polluted it would be a rather weak defence in court to try and explain that an IoT kettle or CCTV camera has a hissy and compromised your service.
Brian Back is a Chartered Engineer, Managing Director, NED, corporate and technology strategist, lobbyist, consultant and inventor with a career spanning over 37-years across the electrical, gas distribution, water, wastewater, pollution, environmental, flood management and rail sectors.