Standards play a central role in enabling the creation of markets for new technologies. As is typical for emerging technologies, commercial partnerships are driving competing standards for the Internet of Things. Left unchecked, this carries a risk of restrictive standards being set and enforced by monopolistic providers, and of fragmentation inhibiting the interoperability of devices, slowing growth and reducing the opportunities for entrepreneurs.
For the Internet of Things to flourish, interoperability must apply across all parts of the system, including the transmission networks and the data being transmitted. Data
and devices must have proportionate “security by default”. Standards must protect against cybercrime and national security threats, and help to ensure that the system is
trustworthy and trusted. They should also support energy efficiency, as this will help increase the range of potential applications and manage the burden on energy supply.
Government can shape standards and support new market entrants through its commissioning practices. Funding scalable demonstrators is an excellent way both to
enable innovators to develop new business models rapidly, and to ensure that standards are fit for purpose. This report outlines examples of potential opportunities, by sector, in chapter four.
Although the UK cannot unilaterally adopt a standard and hope for global consensus, a clear government position will give companies and consumers confidence in the UK
market. Government should play a leading role in seeking to achieve wider consensus with other governments and standards bodies, and could host international events to
seize the initiative and demonstrate UK leadership.
Recommendation 5: With the participation of industry and our research communities, Government should support the development of standards that facilitate interoperability, openness to new market entrants and security against cybercrime and terrorism. Government and others can use expert commissioning to encourage participants in demonstrator programmes to develop standards that facilitate interoperable and secure systems. Government should take a proactive role in driving harmonisation of standards internationally.