At Vodafone, we are proud to be a global organisation with a heart that beats in Europe. The world’s largest integrated market holds fantastic benefits for our people, our customers, our technological capabilities and the rules that govern how we do business.
These governing frameworks become particularly relevant when it comes to emerging technologies. Take the Internet of Things (IoT); a phenomenon already creating a gateway to the digital society and smart cities of tomorrow, but also an area still in development.
Connecting machine-to-machine on a scale like never before will create a crucial bridge between the data economy and physical economy, collecting and transmitting information that will benefit all industries.
Enabling a better tomorrow with IoT
As well as this, it is clear that IoT holds the potential to bring about immense changes in the way we live, work and travel. This technology is a crucial step towards a future that we have previously only been able to imagine.
The World Economic Forum recently revealed that 84% of IoT deployments are currently addressing, or have the potential to address, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
I am not sure that any other technology, new or established, can make such a bold claim.
Whether supporting the migration to renewable energy or improving crop yields, reducing water consumption or deploying of fertilisers more intelligently in agriculture, the list of use cases for IoT continues to grow.
With more than 85m IoT connections and counting, Vodafone Business has already seen first-hand the positive human impact technology can have, be that through preventative healthcare, smarter traffic management or reduced congestion and pollution.
With the advent of 5G, IoT will be able to connect more things than ever before: there has never been a better time to embrace this shift.
Europe risks being left behind
Yet despite the strength that the European Union delivers, scalability is hindered by the fragmentation of regulatory frameworks between both EU member states and between sectors.
Our current policies and regulations in the EU were not designed for a world of machine-to-machine communications and the exchange of data across millions of points.
As a result, this fragmentation and uncertainty is hindering the ability of providers, partners and customers to innovate and grow.
And while steps have already been taken to ensure the free flow of non-personal IoT data between EU member states, further action is required.
As we look at today’s global landscape, the current restrictions hinder the growth that society requires.
The comparison of regulations relevant to IoT across the EU, China and USA
Ambition and creativity are essential to market leadership
That is why today we need an innovative “designed for IoT” framework. A set of policies that remove unnecessary barriers and build on the successful strategy that has made Europe one of the world’s most sought after markets.
As well as its environmental and societal impact, IoT also has the potential to rapidly accelerate the optimisation of manufacturing and utilities - the economic engine of the EU.
Our market competitors the United States and China are already taking bold steps to support the deployment of IoT in a bid to become the dominant force on the market.
Europe still has the chance to take the lead and to achieve this, but it requires a newly designed policy framework that reflects the needs of IoT. This will open up a new wave of digital opportunities for people and businesses, positioning Europe as a world leader in the Internet of Things.