The Internet of Things: Are we truly ready to be connected?

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been building up in varying forms around us. From the connected home to tracking our health via little devices to having a traffic management system where vehicles talk to each other, the world is changing rapidly and connecting in ways never imagined before.

According to a recent Goldman Sachs report (The Internet of Things: Making sense of the next mega-trend) the enablers for this (which were also obstacles in the past) are the cost of sensors, bandwidth and processing, along with the proliferation of smartphones, and the improvements in technology such as IPv6 and Big Data. All good stuff, but still very technical…

Having all these wonderful technology is great, but how much are we ready to share in order for this to be truly useful? Are we ready to connect with total strangers, or share our data or information with governments and corporate entities in order for better lives and an improved society?

Are you willing to share your car’s GPS & computer data with your garage or dealership so that they can alert you to any issues? Will you also be willing to share the same with authorities so that they can monitor road traffic and congestion as well as use it to plan for better infrastructure, or will you be concerned about being tracked 24×7?

What about sharing your current health information, generated by smart watches or fitness accessories, with your GPs (no, not that GPS) so that they can monitor (and potentially save) your health? Will you be willing to share the same with your health insurance provider? What if they can release funds for an emergency procedure without any hassle, simply because your GP and your health insurance provider are in sync at time of need, as opposed to spying on you so they can whack a higher premium for being slack?

As you can see from the above examples, we pick and choose who we want to share information with, but generally assume that governments and corporations are evil by nature (ok, slightly exaggerated).

As long as people have concerns about their privacy, the privacy of their data, that the information will not be misused, along with overall trust issues with governments and corporations, we won’t get very far with the Internet of Things (IoT) benefiting society in general.

The next challenge I see is not the technical stuff – that’s already sorted – it’s the people and their concerns that need to be addressed. Governments and industry need to play a huge role in this process.