The Internet of Everything Comes Into Focus For Policymakers


It seems like only yesterday we were trying to get state and local governments to consider technology policy that wasn’t based on mainframes and dot matrix printers. Now, Cisco wants us all to consider the Internet of Everything, and with that, futurist policy. Futurists, previously only known to the staff inside big technology companies, are now regularly on the speaker circuit and with the Internet of Everything, firmly in the spotlight. Futurists as you might guess, are tasked with envisioning the future and not just new product launches a few quarters ahead – but the future of decades ahead.

This week, Cisco is putting the Internet of Everything (IoE) idea on public view with a series of events highlighting the nascent stages of its futuristic policy meets hardware plan. According to Cisco’s CEO, wireless devices connected to the internet, powering the Internet of Everything will be a $14.4 trillion market by 2022. On the public sector side, pieces of this $14.4 trillion are clear – smart grid, municipal wifi, BYOD, tablets each play a role in the IoE. Add in video, and networks like FirstNet which will allow first responders a data transfer network, this idea isn’t revolutionary, if anything, it’s obvious. But, putting it all together still requires some doing.

At an event held in New York, NY yesterday, public safety officials from New York and New Jersey highlighted how they are using the IoE. CivSource recently reported on public safety as a key focus area for the new civic technology accelerator launched in Philadelphia last month, highlighting the sector as the next key focus point for public sector officials interested in modernization and technological improvement. In Monmouth County, New Jersey public safety officials there are one of the first in the area to put together a hub and spoke style technology network. That network uses Cisco technology to power a data, voice, VoIP and video network for first responders. The network also has a mobile environment which Sheriff Shaun Golden said came in handy during superstorm Sandy.

The next phase is a fusion center that brings in additional stakeholders not commonly lumped in with public safety – transit and school security. “School security is a growing issue for us given the increase in the number of incidents,” Golden said.

In Westchester County, New York the IoE takes on a different form for the prison system there. Captain Mark Reimer, Westchester County Department of Correction, explained that often corrections officials were often driving and staying in different areas throughout their jurisdictions for single meetings. The advent of video and telepresence has scaled back much of this travel expense and also improved communication for prisoners that need to meet with officials.

Videos are securely recorded and transmitted, and other meetings, such as those between prisoners and their attorneys are not monitored in line with privacy and privilege practices. “Initially it was a change management issue for us, public defenders were getting paid to go there and sit and wait on hearings or other meetings so they didn’t want to take a hit to billable hours. But we went to their administrators and explained the efficiency,” Reimer says. “Attorneys also questioned privilege but we said to them, if we improperly record those conversations that’s a number one acquittal tool for you, so there’s no incentive for us to do that.”

“I see the future of prisons being video,” he explained noting the efficiency for all parties and the cost effective nature of the technology. “Tablets will also play a bigger role, prison systems are heavily paper based, manual systems but we can do it better.”

On the policy side, in conjunction with the events, the Center for Public Policy Innovation (CPPI), a not-for-profit educational think tank, and Cisco released a special report on the economic, societal, and environmental promise offered by the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE) and associated policy areas. CPPI is pushing a Futurist Policy Initiative backed by this research.

Data in the report shows that GE estimates that the ‘Industrial Internet’ or IoE will save industry as much as $150 billion annually through greater efficiency. On the policy side, the report focuses in on issues including spectrum, standardization, governance, privacy and security. “In order for IoE to succeed, more spectrum is required,” the report says, highlighting the growing battle for spectrum blocks. The group is also advocating a set of open standards for the technologies that will make up the IoE.