Since the concept was first popularized in 2009, the Internet of Things (IoT) has captured the imaginations of engineers and innovators, nonprofit organizations and technology firms, and a wide array of other individuals and organizations. IoT refers to the use of data capture and communications technology to inform an international network connecting physical objects with their digital equivalents, allowing devices like Internet-linked thermometers to automatically provide data to associated websites and digital networks. This emerging field holds the potential to transform many of the particulars of day-to-day life and have a major impact on a vast number of sectors and technologies.
In order to support the efficient, effective roll-out of technology offerings associated with the IoT, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) company member IBM Corporation has announced plans to establish a cloud-hosted service intended to bolster machine-to-machine applications and other IoT-related endeavors. By leveraging multiple existing IBM technologies and related initiatives, including IBM MessageSight, the new service seeks to deliver messages and events to IoT-enabled applications in near real-time across a wide spectrum of industries, including the healthcare, retail, transportation and industrial sectors. For more information about IBM’s work in this area, visit IBM’s IoT page.
While the transformative potential of the IoT has led to increased investment in this area, with more than $1 billion going to IoT-related startups in 2013, it has also led some observers to express concern about the associated security risks. Because the IoT involves the interconnection of countless appliances and devices – everything from refrigerators to subway trains – and the automatic transfer of related data, cyber-attacks on IoT-related systems could potentially have a disproportionate impact on consumers. To combat this threat, ANSI company member Cisco recently announced its "Internet of Things Grand Security Challenge," which offers up to $300,000 in awards to computer programmers who solve security problems associated with the IoT and its related devices. Interested parties are asked to submit a four-to-six-page proposal by Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Cisco will award up to six prizes of between $50,000 and $75,000 to the selected awardees at the Cisco IoT World Forum in fall 2014. For more information, visit the official contest page.
The rise of IoT and Internet-connected devices has also engendered a corresponding surge of interest in IoT-related voluntary consensus standards. In 2012, International Organization for Standardization / International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1, Information Technology, established its Special Working Group (SWG) 5, Internet of Things, which focuses primarily on standardization needs related to the IoT [see related story]. The SWG is tasked with identifying IoT-related market requirements and standardization gaps, encouraging other JTC 1 WGs and subcommittees to address gaps in IoT standardization, and promoting IoT standards developed by JTC 1 to government, industry, and other organizations. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, serves as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group Administrator to SWG 5. The U.S. plays a leading role in JTC 1, with ANSI holding the secretariat and Karen Higginbottom, director of standards initiatives at Hewlett-Packard, serving as JTC 1’s chair. To learn more about SWG 5 and its activities, visit its webpage.
As the IoT and its related technologies increasingly becomes a part of our everyday lives, digitally linking appliances, mobile devices, and a range of other objects and tools, members of the ANSI Federation are carrying out important work to help support the safe, effective roll-out of this important new field.