Internet of Things (IoT)

Updates

Indian Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched a joined research and development technology programme with the Swedish government agency for innovation systems - Vinnova. The programme will explore the topics of digitalization and Internet of Things (IoT) while focusing specifically on the challenges of smart cities and clean technologies.

Tamworth City Council formed a partnership with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney and the US company Providence Asset Group (PAG) to transform Tamworth into Australia’s first fully integrated smart city. The transition will include installing IoT (Internet of Things) applications as part of transportation, energy, health, telecommunications, and other municipal systems by using the city’s existing wireless network. The project will be led by professor Joe Dong, director of the UNSW Digital Futures Grid Institute.

US civil society organisation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), issued a letter to the US Congress Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce, addressing the topic of consumer safety when using Internet of things (IoT) devices. The letter details the privacy and security concerns associated with IoT devices and urges the subcommittee to consider adopting the IoT code of practice which was issued in the UK October 2018. The letter was sent to the subcommittee in advance of a scheduled hearing in the matter of dangerous products.

The GSM Association (GSMA) released a report on mobile-enabled digital transformation in Uganda in co-operation with the government of Uganda and a number of international development agencies. The report was launched during a high-level round table that examined how Uganda could advance the national and global sustainable development agenda through mobile-enabled digital transformation. The report was accompanied by a draft action plan to be implemented during the next two years which highlights several mobile-enabled activities that would overcome some of the local challenges across different sectors and hence progress development goals. There are five areas where mobile technology is impacting Uganda: (a) productivity and efficiency, (b) service delivery, (c) good governance and social justice, (d) climate change and the environment, and (e) digital entrepreneurship and emerging technologies. The study notes that three key mobile services, namely connectivity, mobile money, and cellular Internet of things (IoT), are driving digital transformation in Uganda through supporting the priority areas in the national development plan and achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Yet, more co-operation among stakeholders is still required to improve digital and financial inclusion to underserved communities and further promote mobile-enabled solutions in the Ugandan national development plan.

A group of 12 UK research institutions have launched the PETRAS 2 - National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cybersecurity. The centre aims to advance a comprehensive and systematic research on Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning. The creation of the centre is the second phase of the UK PETRAS (privacy, ethics, trust, reliability, acceptability, and security) programme which deals with the opportunities, challenges, and threats of digital technology. The centre is funded by the UK Research and Innovation, through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Securing Digital Technologies at the Periphery (SDTaP) programme.

Four Democrat US Senators issued a letter to the manufacturers of US voting machines, urging them to explain why they are selling devices with security flaws, that if exploited, might undermine the results of the 2020 elections. The companies, ES&S, Dominion Voting, and Hart InterCivic have more than 90% of the US election equipment market share and previous studies have proven their machines’ vulnerability. The companies have until 9 April to respond to the senators’ letter.

The Internet of Things (IoT) includes a wide range of Internet-connected devices, from highly digitalised cars, home appliances (e.g. fridges), and smart watches, to digitalised clothes that can monitor health. IoT devices are often connected in wide-systems, typically described as 'smart houses' or 'smart cities'. Such devices both generate enormous amount of data and create new contexts in which data are used. IoT triggers a multitude of policy issues, from standardisation to protection of privacy.

 

When we say that Internet helps us to connect we also implicitly refer to the fact that some of our devices can be connected and transfer data among themselves. Primarily, we are thinking about computers, mobile phones, tablets, e-readers. But what if every device we use on a daily basis, such as transportation vehicles, home appliances, clothes, city infrastructure, medical and healthcare devices, can connect via the global network to a remote center or to other device? This gives the term ‘connected’ a different, broader meaning.

This is the general idea behind the IoT, a network of physical objects or ‘things’ connected via electronics, software, and sensors to exchange data with manufacturers, operators, or other connected device. The main objective is to achieve greater value or service. IoT devices use the present Internet structure, not a separate/different Internet.  

The most common sensors currently used for IoT device communication are radio frequency identifiers, universal product codes, and electronic product codes. In addition, researchers are continuously exploring new modalities for connecting IoT devices, such light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Some of the most developed IoT industries include home automation, health monitoring, and transportation. Other industries where IoT is playing a prominent role important role are energy, infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, and consumer applications.

In general terms, the IoT in increasingly seen as having a significant development potential, that can contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals (as underlined in an ITU–Cisco Systems report from 2016, and at various sessions held at the IGF 2016 meeting).

Even if the size of a single piece of data generated by connected Iot devices could be quite small, the final sum is staggering due to the number of devices, estimated to reach between 20 and 100 billion by 2020. According to the International Data Corporation, by 2020 the ‘digital universe’ will reach 44 zettabytes (trillion gigabytes), and 10% of this amount would come from IoT devices.

Public and private initiatives

The business sector is leading major IoT initiatives. While companies such as Intel and Cisco continuously develop their portfolios of IoT services, telecom operators have started to deploy IoT-dedicated networks on large scale, to encourage the use of IoT. Moreover, companies from different sectors are joining forces in alliances aimed at further contributing to developments in the field of IoT. Examples include the Open Connectivity Foundation, whose aim is to contribute to achieving interoperability among IoT devices, and the LoRa Alliance, which works in the field of IoT standardisation.

Governments are also becoming more and more aware of the opportunities brought by the IoT, and they are launching various types of initiatives in this area. The European Union, for example, has initiated the Horizon 2010 Work Programme 2016 -2017: Internet of Things Large Scale Pilots for testing and deployment, a funding programme aimed to encourage the take up of IoT in Europe. In the USA, the Department of Commerce has issued a Green Paper on Fostering the Advancement of the Internet of Things, and is exploring a potential role (and related benefits and challenges) for the government in supporting the evolution of the IoT field. The Chinese government, on the other hand, has created the Chengdu Internet of Things Technology Institute, through which it funds research in various IoT-related areas.

IoT, data protection, and security

The IoT generates massive amounts of data, and this has triggered major concerns related to privacy and data protection. Some IoT devices can collect and transmit data that are of personal nature (e.g. the case of medical IoT devices), and there are concerns about how the devices themselves are protected (ensuring their security), as well as about how the data they collect is processed and analysed. While information transmitted by an IoT device might not cause privacy issues, when sets of data collected from multiple devices are put together, processed, and analysed, this may lead to sensitive information being disclosed.

IoT devices are increasingly used as tools in large cyber-attacks, bringing the security of such devices into sharper focus. One notable example is from October 2016, when a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Dyn Inc., a large Domain Name System hosting and DDoS‐response provider serving top online service providers, rendered many services – including Twitter, PayPal, Reddit, and Spotify – temporarily unavailable, and slowed down Internet traffic across the globe.  In the context of ongoing debates on the responsibility that the private sector should take when it comes to IoT security, companies have started to launch initiatives in this area. In one such example, AT&T, IBM, Nokia, Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, and Trustsonic have formed the IoT Cybersecurity Alliance, with the aim to ‘help customers address IoT cybersecurity challenges, demystify IoT security, and share best practices’. At the same time, standard-setting organisations are more carefully looking into developing IoT security standards. Despite such initiatives, there have been calls for governmental intervention, with security experts arguing that the private sector is not sufficiently motivated to appropriately address IoT security concerns, and that regulations and public policies are needed to cover issues related to security standards, interoperability, and software updates requirements.

IoT, big data, and artificial intelligence

Ongoing developments in the field of automated systems (i.e. self-driving cars, medical robots, etc.) bring into light an increasingly important interplay between IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. Artificial intelligence, a field that undergoes a very fast development, provides ‘thinking’ for IoT devices, making them ‘smart’. These devices, in turn, generate significant amounts of data – sometimes labeled as big data. This data is then analysed and used for the verification of initial AI algorithms and for the identification of new cognitive patterns that could be integrated into new AI algorithms.

While this interplay presents an enormous business potential, it also brings new challenges in areas such as the labour market, education, safety and security, privacy, ethics and accountability. For example, while AI systems can potentially lead to economic growth, they could also generate significant disruptions to the labour market. As AI systems involve judgements and decision‐making – replacing similar human processes – concerns have also been raised regarding ethics, fairness, justice, transparency, and accountability. The risk of discrimination and bias in decisions made by autonomous technologies is one such concern, very well illustrated in the debate that has surrounded Jigsaw’s Conversation AI tool. While potentially addressing problems related to misuse of the Internet public space, the software also raises a major ethical issue: How can machines determine what is and what is not appropriate language?

Such challenges have determined both governments and the private sector to take several steps. The US National Science and Technology Council outlined its strategy for promoting AI research and development, while the White House made recommendations on how to prepare the workforce for an AI‐driven economy. The UK Parliamentary Committee on Science and Technology asked the UK government to take proactive measures. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Legal Affairs proposed the adoption of an EU ‘legislative instrument’ to tackle legal questions related to the development of robotics and AI, as well as the introduction of ‘civil law rules on robotics’. In the private sector sphere, major Internet companies (IBM, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and DeepMind) have launched the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence initiative, aimed at addressing the privacy, security, and ethical challenges of AI, and initiating a broader societal dialogue on the ethical aspects of new digital developments.

Events

Actors

(AIOTI)

In line with its objective of supporting the development of the IoT ecosystem in Europe, the Alliance mostly f

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In line with its objective of supporting the development of the IoT ecosystem in Europe, the Alliance mostly focuses on developing policy recommendations on issues of relevance for the IoT, and facilitating the adoption of such recommendations across its members. The various working groups created within the organisation have produced reports and recommendations focusing on issues such as smart manufacturing, wearable technologies, smart mobility, smart cities, food safety IoT applications, and smart living environments. In November 2016, the Alliance issued a set of policy recommendations on the Digitisation of European industry, addressing IoT-related policy issues, including trust, numbering and addressing, the free flow of data, and liability.

(LoRa)

The Alliance focuses its work on standardising and promoting the deployment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (L

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The Alliance focuses its work on standardising and promoting the deployment of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) as a key enabler of IoT applications. It has developed the LoRa protocol (LoRaWAN), aimed at facilitating interoperability among IoT devices. In addition, it has launched the LoRa Alliance Certified programme, designed as a mark of recognition that IoT products meet national frequency regulations, and ensure LoRaWAN interoperability and compliance of network infrastructure. Members of the Alliance collaborate and share knowledge and experience to guarantee interoperability among their products. The organisation has produced several white papers on issues such as the market potential of LPWA technologies and LoRaWAN security.

(OCF)

The Foundation dedicates most of its work to creating specifications for seamless interoperability among IoT c

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The Foundation dedicates most of its work to creating specifications for seamless interoperability among IoT connected devices. The developed OIC specification tackles issues such as the core architecture, interfaces, and services, security, and smart home devices, among others. Additional specifications are under ongoing development and review. The Foundation also sponsors the IoTivity project, aimed to deliver an open source reference implementation of the IoT interoperability specifications it is developing. In addition, it runs certification programmes aimed to provide real world testing to help developers ensure that their IoT products work.

(ISO)

More and more standards and guidelines developed by ISO cover issues related to data and information security,

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More and more standards and guidelines developed by ISO cover issues related to data and information security, and cybersecurity. One example is the 27000 family of standards, which cover aspects related to information security management systems and are used by organisations to keep information assets (e.g. financial data, intellectual property, employees’ information) secure. Standards 27031 and 27035, for example, are specifically designed to help organisations to effectively respond, diffuse and recover from cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity is also tackled in the framework of standards on technologies such as the Internet of Things, smart community infrastructures, medical devices, localisation and tracking systems, and future networks.

(IEC)

The IEC carries our standardisation and conformity assessment activities covering a

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The IEC carries our standardisation and conformity assessment activities covering a vast array of technologies. These range from smart cities, smart grids, and smart energies, to electromagnetic compatibility between devices, digital system interfaces and protocols, and fibre optics and cables. Other areas covered by the Commission through its work include cable networks, multimedia home systems and applications for end-user network, multimedia e-publishing and e-book technologies, safety of information technology and communication technology, wearable electronic devices and technologies, cards and personal identification, programming languages, IT for learning, education, and training, cloud computing and distributed platforms, and the Internet of Things.

Instruments

Standards

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2060 ‘Overview of the Internet of things’ (2012)

Other Instruments

Resources

IoT – Economic Opportunities and Security Challenges (2018)

Articles

An Insider’s Handbook for IoT Startups (2016)
2016 Data Threat Report (2016)

Publications

Internet Governance Acronym Glossary (2015)
An Introduction to Internet Governance (2014)

Papers

The Internet of Things (IoT): An Overview - Understanding the Issues and Challenges of a More Connected World (2015)

Reports

Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions 2017 (2017)
One Internet (2016)
State of the Market: Internet of Things 2016 (2016)
Smart Homes and the Internet of Things (2016)
Automotive IoT Security: Countering the Most Common Forms of Attack (2016)
Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020 (2016)
Harnessing the Internet of Things for Global Development (2016)
Measuring the Information Society 2015 (2015)
Recommendations for future collaborative work in the context of the Internet of Things Focus Area in Horizon 2020 (2015)
OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2015 (2015)
The Internet of Things: Mapping the Value Beyond the Hype (2015)
The Impacts of the Internet of Things - The Connected Home (2015)
Security: The Vital Element of The Internet of Things (2015)
Industrial Internet of Things: Unleashing the Potential of Connected Products and Services (2015)

GIP event reports

UN GGE on LAWS: Day 2 - morning (2019)
Side event: Public views on fully autonomous weapons (2019)
UN GGE on LAWS: Day 3 - afternoon (2019)
UN GGE on LAWS: Day 1 - morning (2019)
UN GGE on LAWS: Day 1 - afternoon (2019)
UNECE activities on intelligent transport systems (2019)
The deployment of automated mobility services (2019)
Symposium on the Future Networked Car - Opening Remarks (2019)
Cybersecurity impact and outlook for automotive systems (2019)
Connected and automated vehicles at the cross-roads to success (2019)
Disruptive Technology II: What does automation mean for human rights (2018)
Session 3: Policy and regulation perspective – Privacy and beyond (2018)
StaTact, data and monitoring for resilient societies (2018)
Roundtable Discussion: AI for Development (2018)
Leadership Debate: Emerging Technologies for Digital Transformation (2018)
Opening Session and Session 1: AI and Cybersecurity – The State of Play (2018)
Session 4 – Ways forward and closing (2018)
Session 2: AI and IoT – Exploit the potential for building confidence and security in the use of ICTs (2018)
Looking Ahead: What to Expect in the Cyber Realm (2017)
Geneva Digital Talks: What can Geneva offer in Global Digital Governance? (2017)
Report for Symposium on The Future Networked Car (2017)
Report for World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 (2017)

Other resources

Internet of Things and the Smart Home Survey (2016)
The CEO's Guide to Securing the Internet of Things - Exploring IoT Security (2016)
GSMA IoT Security Guidelines (2016)
Cyber Security Guidelines for Smart City Technology Adoption (2015)
Security Guidance for Early Adopters of the Internet of Things (2015)

Processes

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WSIS Forum 2019

WBDS 2019

UNCTAD 2019

13th IGF 2018

UNCTAD 2018

WSIS Forum 2018

12th IGF 2017

WTO Public Forum 2017

WSIS Forum 2017

IGF 2016

WSIS10HL

IGF 2015

IGF 2016 Report

 

Many sessions at IGF 2016 addressed challenges and opportunities associated with the Internet of Things. The IoT can contribute to achieving the SDGs (Harnessing IoT to Realize the SDGs: What’s Required? - WS35), through applications in areas such as smart cities (ICTs for Smart and Sustainable City - WS69), agriculture, and autonomous devices (Internet of Things for Sustainable Growth - WS157). But multistakeholder efforts are needed to address challenges related to security of devices, privacy and data protection, interoperability and standardisation (The Network of Networked Things: Finding the Internet in IoT - WS170), and ethical and societal implications (Dynamic Coalition on the Internet of Things).

 

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