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The Role of Governmental Policy is Critical to Advancing the Internet of Things The Role of Governmental Policy is Critical to Advancing the Internet of Things

The Role of Governmental Policy is Critical to Advancing the Internet of Things

This article is part of Ice Miller’s Smarter Cities Guide, designed for municipal leaders, city administrators, urban planners, and economic developers. In this guide, your team will find opportunities to explore best practices and utilize checklists to develop the infrastructure, to understand the technology, and to implement the financial and legislative solutions needed to build a smarter city. Click here to learn more.

The role of government has been debated for centuries especially in emerging industries. Governmental policy is often a balance of protecting our citizens while promoting job growth and economic development. As President Reagan said, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

This should be especially true as policymakers consider their evolving approach to the Internet of Things (“IoT”). It will be important to address key IoT issues (such as privacy and data security) in order to protect our citizens, while having a light and nimble touch to encourage growth without overregulating.


Here is a sampling of top items.

Governments that are Economic Catalysts for IoT will Benefit

  • According to recent reports, 75 percent of the companies expected to be listed on the S&P 500 in 2027 have not been established yet.
  • For the United States to be the leader in IoT, policymakers need to provide economic support, especially in the early stages of the industry. This support can include economic development incentives, training money, and favorable tax treatment of research and development costs and other early stage costs.
  • Being an economic catalyst will require legislative policy changes that encourage the investment of IoT infrastructure, such as data centers, broadband, Wi-Fi, and energy transmission. Policymakers should study and determine where to make these investments and how to fund these investments. Policymakers may need to obtain access to alternative financing models including public- private partnerships.
  • States and communities that are catalysts will become leaders in IoT, which will generate job creation, investment, and tax revenue. The challenge for these policymakers will be to create pockets in this country that will lead in particular IoT areas in order to enhance focus and growth of the IoT industry.

Create Uniform, Adaptable and Seamless Regulation

  • The IoT industry must be able to move commerce and data freely without facing unnecessary constraints from a multitude of governments. Therefore, any legislative policies and regulations should be drafted and approved in a way so as to allow regulations to be amended quickly in an attempt to keep current with the ever changing IoT industry.
  • One consideration is to limit IoT policy so that it only addresses what is critical in protecting the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens.
  • State and local governments should work on model policies and interact with national groups to be relevant and impactful on their governmental policies.

Ensure the Education Community is at the Table

  • Recent reports indicate that approximately 47% of jobs could be phased out in the years ahead because of advances in technology.
  • If policy and education are not ready to deal with this shift, areas of our country will be left behind.
  • The IoT industry is a great engine for economic growth, and planning is needed to ensure job growth. Policymakers need to ensure that local, state, and federal policies incorporate the education community and that the community is prepared to train the next generation of IoT workers, assist with research and development, and study the impacts on our society. There will be a greater shift to online education which will be an important source to train and recalibrate the workforce.

2017 will be an important year for IoT policy as the industry is poised for strong growth. Last year, many states passed laws to encourage IoT development while utilizing existing regulatory laws for any IoT issues which arose. This year we will see governmental policy and laws adopted at a faster rate, and many laws will be more tailored to address specific IoT issues.

  • Catalog Primary Areas that will be Impacted. IoT policy is different than most other industry policy because IoT touches almost every industry and every facet of life. Policymakers need to be strategic and anticipate the common policy themes and issues created by IoT. Create an IoT leader for your jurisdiction who can be the point person to create a plan of action for each impacted department.
  • Establish IoT Policy Goals and Objections. The top governmental officials should establish the desired goals and objectives for IoT, such as job growth, consumer protection, workforce development, and uniformity in policy, so that all related decisions align with these priorities.
  • Create Stakeholder Working Groups. Policymakers should continue to engage the businesses and organizations that will be impacted and seek their input on policy. This is occurring at the national and state levels, but it needs to continue to filter down to all levels of government. Further, policymakers should fully understand what the education community is doing in the IoT industry and develop a plan on how best to encourage advanced workforce training and research in IoT in schools. Ensuring real collaboration between business, government and the education community is a critical step to success.
  • Understand your Assets and Programs to Support IoT. Policymakers should assess whether infrastructure and economic development policies are sufficient to remain competitive and relevant. Government has considerable assets, which if utilized appropriately, can help drive strong IoT growth. Further, to encourage job growth and investment in their jurisdiction, governments need to review their economic development programs to ensure that programs align with this new industry, and to determine what local infrastructure assets can be leveraged to retain and attract IoT growth.
  • Create IoT Policy that Fosters Certainty. Local and state jurisdictions should give strong consideration to creating and adopting IoT policy that promotes uniformity across jurisdictions.

For more information on the IoT, contact a member of our Internet of Things Industry Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.

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