Government releases report on Internet of Things, highlights energy as a key sector

On 18 December 2014 the UK Government released the much anticipated review by the Government Chief Scientific Adviser into how the UK can exploit the potential of the “Internet of Things” (the Review). Energy was one of 5 key sectors highlighted in the Review as well as by the Prime Minister in his foreword to it. The Review recommends 10 actions for government to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of these new technologies which will be of interest to those following Smart Grids in the UK.

Background

In 2014, the UK Prime Minister commissioned the Government Chief Scientific Adviser to review how the UK can exploit the potential of the Internet of Things. The Review draws on input from an advisory group, seminars and evidence from more than 120 experts in academia, industry and government. In his foreword to the Review, the Prime Minister explains the Government’s thinking that Internet of Things technologies “are a way of boosting productivity, of keeping us healthier, making transport more efficient, reducing energy needs and making our homes more comfortable“. The PM expressly mentioned “Electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals” as an example of what connected technologies can enable. 

Recommendations

The Review makes ten recommendations, some of which, in summary, include:

  • Leadership, vision and commissioning: the Government needs to foster and promote a clear aspiration and vision for the Internet of Things and has a leadership role to play in delivering the vision and should set high ambitions. The Government should remove barriers and provide catalysis. The Government must be an expert and strategic customer for the Internet of Things. It should use informed buying power to define best practice and to commission technology that uses open standards, is interoperable and secure.
  • The Government should take a pro-active role in encouraging standards and best use of spectrum, networks, and a roadmap for infrastructure.
  • The national curriculum and Civil Service recruitment needs to focus on developing relevant skills bases.
  • Encouraging open data: The Review states that “Open application programming interfaces should be created for all public bodies and regulated industries to enable innovative use of real-time public data, prioritising efforts in the energy and transport sectors.”
  • Developing flexible and proportionate regulation and legislation.
  • Working with industry and international partners to encourage public “trust” and “security by default”.
  • Establish a Digital Economy Council: The Review recommends such a Council to bring together private and public sectors with a remit that would include coordinating Government and private sector funding and fostering public-private collaboration where this will maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of implementations.

Next Steps

The Review states that the recommendations are primarily for Government to take forward, but that successfully delivering them will require a close partnership with industry, the UK research base, the public, other national governments and international organisations. The political landscape following the next election may prove crucial in determining the practical steps resulting from this Review.

Related links

The Review and related material is available here.

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