Acting in concert with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) issued a report last Thursday that sets forth principles and “areas of engagement” for development of a public-private framework for advancing the Internet of Things (IoT).   

Statistics published this week by International Data Corp. depict total global spending on IoT infrastructure at $737 billion last year and predict that global IoT investments will approach $1.3 trillion by 2020.  The DOC report is built on comments it received last year from “a broad array” of private sector, government and academic stakeholders as well as on the results of a September 2016 workshop in which participants “[delved] deeper into the questions raised by the request for comment.”  In addition to analyzing these comments, the report also “identifies key issues that can impact the deployment of IoT technologies, highlights potential benefits and challenges, and discusses what role, if any, the U.S. government, particularly the [DOC], should play in this evolving landscape.”  

Asserting that IoT “encompasses a widening scope of industries and activities and a vastly increasing scale and number of devices” that raise “the stakes and impacts of broad connectivity,” the report recommends that any U.S. government policy approach to IoT should be based on principles of inclusiveness, wide accessibility by consumers and businesses, stability, security, trustworthiness, interoperability, and global connectivity.  To foster growth and innovation in IoT services and applications, the DOC pledged to develop an approach that would expand markets and reduce barriers to entry.   

Along that vein, the report identifies four areas of engagement which include (1) enabling infrastructure availability and access, (2) building coalitions among private and public stakeholders, (3) promoting technical standards “to support global IoT interoperability,” and (4) encouraging market development through “novel usage” and application of IoT technologies “and translating the economic benefits and opportunities of IoT to foreign partners.”  Announcing its support for “a predictable and minimalist regulatory environment,” the DOC confirmed that it will request additional industry feedback in developing an interagency approach to IoT that corresponds to the report’s recommendations.