In April, the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Admin.) issued a request for public comments as it prepares to review the current technological and policy landscape for the Internet of Things. As I stated in a blog post earlier this month, this was truly an important opportunity for the public and private sectors to come together and cooperate. The NTIA, which is part of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce,  advises the president on telecommunications and information policy issues. It is often talked about in conjunction with its programs and policies that expand broadband Internet access and adoption in the United States. What made this request so important is that NTIA was focusing on potential policy issues related to the IoT (Internet of Things).

Specifically, this includes issues posed by the impressive growth that is predicted of the IoT in the near future. As I have stated on more than one occasion, the IoT has already proven to be one of the most important—if not the most important—technology trends of this era. The main reason the IoT has proven to be so impactful is that it touches almost every industry. And there is no doubt in my mind that it will continue to change lives and businesses to the extent that we won’t even recognize today’s “business as usual” in the years to come.

What’s makes this so exciting is that the Dept. of Commerce is in the loop on this and when it reached out to me to get comment from industry leaders asking for their insights I was happy to accommodate. Candidly it gave me a reason to learn from people who are much smarter than me.

As I learned from one industry leader, IoT and regulations all have a dramatic influence on the power grid and will demand better/smarter solutions. Power is the only product that is consumed the instant it is generated. It is for this very reason the potential for monopoly is regulated at each of these levels. There are several issues, but perhaps the biggest impacted by the IoT, is what the utility industry calls DER or distributed energy resources.

This encompasses rooftop soar, home cogen, local power generation, etc. Taking all this into consideration as more demand increases it will make the grid harder and harder to manage efficiency. Because of the difficulty of managing these base regulations, some of the distribution utilities have effectively killed net metering because it places the burden of grid management (not power generation) on the remaining rate payers. In addition, it often forces utilities to adopt operational policies that lower the efficiency of the grid.

Essentially, what I’ve been told is that increasing use of peak turbines or operating combined cycle power stations as single cycle for faster response can substantially lower efficiency. The irony is that under the right conditions, adding wind or solar power can actually increase greenhouse gasses because of this lowered efficiency. So the smart play here, so to speak, is a “smart” solution that requires both the IoT and Big Data. Two of these programs are the creation of a VPP (virtual power plant) and a microgrid.

Taking examples like the aforementioned into account, the Dept. of Commerce realizes the growth of IoT and connected devices holds significant promise in areas such as health, safety, energy, security, and the environment. However, it also knows there are some really complex challenges facing businesses and organizations that want to adopt the IoT.

Once it has had a chance to review the public comments, the Dept. Of Commerce plans to issue a ‘‘green paper’’ identify key issues impacting the deployment of IoT technologies, highlight potential benefits and challenges, and identify possible roles for the government in fostering the advancement of IoT technologies in partnership with the private sector.

I am looking forward to seeing what this “green paper” will reveal. Not only because we helped spur the IoT industry to participate, but the Dept. of Commerce is making the IoT a top priority. It’s great to see. Why? Because the IoT can support the growth of a digital economy and foster innovation, prosperity, education, and civic and cultural life in the United States.