In which areas will the impact of Internet of Things be more visible? What is the biggest threat? These questions are important for organisations, but also for citizens. That’s why we asked Manon den Dunnen (inhabitant of the city of Amsterdam) to share her vision about Internet of Things.
“When everything is measurable and connected, most of our behaviour becomes transparent. But the consequences of that behaviour become increasingly opaque, especially when you don’t know in which context the data will be used”
To what extent can the Netherlands come along with the acceleration in innovation that is taking place right now?
“I don’t have enough insight to make an (international) comparison, but I think we are doing quite well. We have the top sector approach, the smart city initiatives, the facilitation of the startup scene, our successful participation in IGEM (world’s largest synthetic biology competition) and the fact that Singularity University decided to base their first non US-office in Eindhoven. And you see the government trying to adapt their regulation. The municipality of Amsterdam for example was the first to come to an agreement with Airbnb on collecting tax and responsible renting.
But for me it is not only about getting along with the acceleration in innovation. I don’t think we should try to always be first in adapting new technology. I really plead for a conscious and responsible approach. The internet of Things, biotechnology and many other innovations have an impact that we cannot oversee. It’s about ethics, privacy, security and the foundation of our constitutional system, like the principle of equality of citizens.”
Internet of Things: myth, bust or life changer?
“A real life changer! If you only think about the ageing of our society. The availability of cheap, connected sensors will enable people to live at home longer. The sensors will provide them with direct feedback and the medical staff can be informed when thresholds are exceeded. But there is more; when everything is measurable and connected, most of our behaviour becomes transparent. But the consequences of that behaviour become increasingly opaque, especially when you don’t know in which context the data will be used.
“What will the effect be when my neighbours can profile my behaviour so easily; when I can be individually targeted by marketing, getting my own personal price offer; when the insurance company will not pay out after a burglary, because the smart meter tells them that I did not leave the lights on…? And what will it mean for government policy, when citizens will have real-time information about almost everything. It will make them much more independent and able to take responsibility, which is good! But how to secure a long-term approach, and the position of those who are less able to understand and use the new possibilities.
“And don’t get me started on the lack of cybersecurity measures in many IoT-components. With everything connected both our dependence and vulnerability increases. The hacking of Target in 2014 was supposedly done through their air-conditioning system.”
“We have the possibility to reinforce our local communities”
How do you personally stand towards the Internet of Things?
“Ambivalent as you can understand from my answer to your last question. I’m really happy about the improvements for the sick and elderly, and also the increasing livability in the city that is enabled by smart sensor systems. But on the other hand I’m thinking a lot about how we can not only facilitate these developments but also adjust (guide) them in such a way that the risk are minimized. The government could for example set demands regarding privacy and security in procurement and government related ruling. After all I didn’t ask for a smart meter…
However, the biggest question is how we will relate to each other, given this new transparent environment. We have the possibility to reinforce our local communities, by alerting and helping each other when needed. I hope we do!”
Who inspires you about M2M-technology and Internet of Things?
“Rob Kranenburg, in my opinion he is one of the very few people that can oversee the linkages in the implications it has for different aspects of society, and.. discussing these aspects with him has always provided me with insights on how to adapt as a government.”
In which areas will the impact of Internet of Things be more visible? What is the biggest threat?
“I think the most visible applications will be in health care, logistics and in the city (e.g. smart waste containers). But because of the decreasing cost I also expect more individual use by citizens, especially in the field of security and tracking. Knowing what’s happening around your house and where your stuff is. This will also enable us to catch thieves red handed. Hopefully this will lead to reduced theft (rather than people taking the law into their own hands).
“I see three big threats, first being the new opportunities for cybercriminals by hacking IoT-components. Second is our increasing dependency; in January this year Nest failed, because of which babycams, thermostats and smoke detectors were not functioning. And last but not least the data abuse by big companies and marketers (data collected for one purpose used in the context of something else). The latter will be less visible and more subtle, but nonetheless a threat.”
What role does Internet of Things play in the upcoming years?
“Above all it will help people to be more independent and take more responsibility. In doing so, we are getting used to get everything “on demand” via Apps and platforms. Having the internet of things around us facilitating our lives to the max and informing us real time about anything that’s not according to our plans will increase expectations. And as said, that might impact the way we relate to each other and to the government.
We live in interesting times….”
About Manon den Dunnen: Manon specializes on the digital transformation of society. She is fascinated by the way digitization facilitates new concepts like the sharing economy, a more efficient use of resources, transparency (blockchain), healthcare (biotech, IoT) and local communities. But above all she is a citizen of Amsterdam which she experiences as a smart city full of inspiration, innovation and initiative!