UK’s chancellor pledged £40m for the internet of things, which allows devices to be controlled by a smartphone or tablet, alongside a £600m investment in freeing up spectrum to be used for wireless broadband and £7.4m to provide wi-fi access for libraries in England. The £40m will be used for business incubators – spaces dedicated to supporting startups – and research hubs that will develop interconnected technologies for healthcare, social care and the government’s “smart cities” initiative.
Neil Crockett, chief executive of national technology centre Digital Catapult, said the internet of things was a key area of growth for the digital economy. The project will enable “collaboration between innovators, organizations and academics who, together, can put the UK at the forefront of a new wave of business models that will make the UK more competitive”, he said.
While the news was welcomed by most, some expressed caution over the developing industry for interconnected devices.
Mark Brown, director of cybersecurity and resilience at Ernst & Young said: “A whole new playing field of vulnerabilities will be created … requiring a rethink in how organisations approach cybersecurity. Therefore it is imperative that the funding allocated by the government not only supports the opportunities posed by the internet of things but addresses the inevitable risks.”
The internet of things has been a subject of tech-industry from the days of the first tech boom at the turn of the millennium. Back then, the idea of a smart home was more theory than reality but now it constitutes serious business for big tech players. Last year Google paid $3.2bn (£2.16bn) for Nest, which manufactures internet-connected smoke alarms and thermostats for homes.