The public doesn't seem to agree on what the internet of things is or whether a common definition of the term is necessary, according to a Commerce Department report.
The Commerce Department published this and other findings from a recent request for comment on the internet of things, a loose term connoting a network of connected devices, objects and sensors. Broadly, that department aims to promote—not inhibit—the development of connected technology; it could use the same policy approach for the internet of things that it did for the internet itself, according to the report.
As connected devices proliferate, the internet of things could eventually "increas[e] efficiency and convenience for industry, consumers and government to improv[e] safety,” Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in a statement.
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Across industries, manufacturing could "have the most to gain" from including more connected devices, the report said.
More advanced factories could result in greater productivity and safety and reduce costs. Benefits aren't limited to the private sector; the government could also use wearable sensors and mobile devices to increase the amount of data relayed to first responders in disasters, among other potential applications.
Commenters agreed the department needs to focus on apportioning spectrum so the internet of things can burgeon, the report said, including one recommendation that Commerce meet demand for spectrum by making a broad range available "on a technology neutral, flexible-use basis."
As many commenters had "significant concern about the ubiquity of data collection and the potentially sensitive or personal nature of this data," they also recommended Commerce encourage cybersecurity information sharing through public-private partnerships.
They also suggested Commerce encourage standards for devices and networks so each piece of technology making up the internet of things can inter-operate, and promote the internet of things' economic benefits to foreign nations, among other suggestions.
Commerce is collecting public comment on the report.