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Yogurt Talks, the Chips are Silent: Europe Outlines Actions to Promote "Internet of Things"

June 18, 2009 By

The European Commission (EC) today published Internet of Things: An Action Plan for Europe. "Every day we see new examples of applications that connect objects to the Internet and each other," said the EU's Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding. "From cars connected to traffic lights that fight congestion, to home appliances connected to smart power grids and energy metering that allows people to be aware of their electricity consumption, or connected pedestrian footpaths that guide the visually impaired."

In the future, even food can be networked, said the EC in a release. Yogurt, for example, could contain sensors that report temperature variations during shipping. The applications are limitless, said Reding, and over the next decade, connected devices could multiply a thousand times. And so, the EC wants to make sure that Europeans will benefit while at the same time confronting issues such as privacy and security of personal information.

The plan includes the following action items:

  • Governance -- The EC will initiate a set of principles underlying the governance of the Internet of Things (IoT) and set up an 'architecture' with a sufficient level of decentralized management, so that public authorities throughout the world can exercise their responsibilities as regards transparency, competition and accountability.
  • Continuous monitoring of the privacy and the protection of personal data questions.
  • Silence of the chips' -- the technical and legal aspects of the 'right to silence of the chips.' Individuals should be able to disconnect from their networked environment at any time.
  • Identification of emerging risks -- regulatory and non-regulatory measures to provide a policy framework that enables IoT to meet the challenges related to trust, acceptance and security.
  • Identify and assess standards.
  • Research projects in IoT, emphasizing microelectronics, non-silicon based components, energy harvesting technologies, ubiquitous positioning, networks of wirelessly communicating smart systems, semantics, privacy- and security-by-design, software emulating human reasoning and on novel applications.
  • Public-Private Partnerships.
  • Pilot projects on IoT applications that deliver strong benefits to society, such as e-health, eaccessibility, climate change, or helping to bridge the digital divide.
  • International dialog on all aspects of IoT with international partners, aiming to agree on relevant joint actions, share best practices and promote the lines of action laid down in this Communication.
  • RFID recycling.

The Commission is also addressing IPv6, to allow enough IP addresses to handle the billions of objects expected to connect to the Internet.

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