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IoT enables the ‘Uberising of citizens’: IoT Alliance Australia

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Before smart cities are built and citizens are ‘Uberised’, a trust framework for data sharing needs to be established in Australia, according to the non-profit body representing IoT in Australia.

Issues around technical standards, data sharing, and application interoperability require the government’s attention if Australia wants to effectively grow smart infrastructure and smart cities using the Internet of Things (IoT), according to not-for-profit body IoT Alliance Australia (IoTAA).

Estimates by the IoTAA using industry data indicate that the wide-scale use of internet-connected devices could drive up to AU$120 billion of new economic activity in Australia in less than a decade. The main industries to benefit from the deployment of IoT are logistics, public health, retail, transportation, and worksite automation, according to the alliance.

But establishing an interoperable and secure framework for open data sharing across all levels of government and industry is an urgent step that needs to be taken to ensure smart cities can be built efficiently and with maximum impact, the IoTAA believes.

“The key will be to build structures that allow us to not have to reinvent very complex things in each city … the degree of understanding and knowledge in cities is, as you know, highly variable and we can’t afford to have cities learn by osmosis. We need to accelerate that process,” IoTAA CEO Frank Zeichner said during a public hearing on Tuesday about the Australian government’s role in the development of cities.

“I see a government role in building that, and setting goals and standards, and helping build and facilitate exemplars and things that can be copied and reused.”

Looking ahead, he said citizens can play a greater role in the collection and sharing of data, and subsequently contribute on an ongoing basis to the development of sustainable and productive cities.

Zeichner called this the “Uberising of citizens”, who are an “unrealised resource” in the IoT ecosystem.

He assured that citizens would be willing to share data — such as that obtained from electricity, gas, and water meters installed on their properties — with city councils as long as they get something in return, such as a discount on utility bills.

“Water industries are trying to grapple with fit-for-purpose water and the fact that we use 1 percent of the water for drinking and the rest is [used to hose] down the garden. People don’t even know how they use that, and before we can change how we do that … people need to know how they’re actually using it. So we have to use data to inform to change behaviour,” Zeichner said during the public hearing.

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