The Internet of Things (IoT) has been all the rage – at least in certain circles – and its potential benefits for the development and humanitarian communities could be profound. The International Telecommunications Union recently published a report, “Harnessing IoT for Global Development,” that highlight some challenges which deserve attention as the aid community begins to bring more and more IoT into programming:
Overreliance and its budgetary effects. Many IoT solutions are still niche and not ready for affordable scale. This risks reducing funding for long-lived, yet proven activities.
Replacing professional help. Many existing health care applications are dependent on an increase of available information to make choices. But short of next-gen cognitive computing solutions everywhere, we’re still better off letting physicians decide on courses of treatment.
Intensive IoT use unmatched by corresponding network infrastructure investments… Forecasted billions of devices could render traffic insurmountable, with special concern for critical, life-saving communications.
…or by any kind of infrastructure investment. Why building roads, bridges and power grids, if drones don’t need them, right?
Excessive dependence on data prior to action. The idea behind “opportunity cost” has two edges. On one side, action without enough information risks successful project outcomes. But on the other, delays in action can also hinder impact and empowerment, or make interventions untimely altogether.
Privacy and private ownership of personal data. We might be on the verge of not only bringing about the Orwellian world, but quantifying it.