The Internet of Things: a boost for European Industry

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes a world where devices of many sorts connect wirelessly with central “platforms”, to perform tasks. Between these and consumers will emerge a layer of processing and service functions that turn the data into viable services.
The IoT also refers to the widespread use of sensors which are increasingly cheap and available. Industry analysts estimate that today’s 14 billon connected devices could rise to anywhere from 20 billion to 100 billion by 2020.

The IoT is already a feature of some industries, notably logistics and transport. It also shows promise for manufacturing which will profit from sensory ‘awareness’ and the analytic possibilities this offers. Healthcare, too, will benefit from wearable devices to improve health and service efficiency.
In the private sector, competition plays a major role in spreading new technologies. The IoT will in most cases improve the performance of existing services and reduce costs, so many businesses will adopt these tools simply to match the performance of those who already have them. The public sector will probably require some alternative approaches.
This paper outlines some policy issues behind the IoT and ways policy makers can increase the benefit Europeans will derive from these new technologies.

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