Who is creating the standards for the Internet of Things?
– Standardisation policy for competitiveness in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Japan, China and the USA
Standardisation issues constitute a central element in economic and industrial policies in several of Sweden’s competitor countries where standardisation policy is high on the political agenda.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is an illustrative example of how standardisation policies work. It is not a specific sector or industry, but rather a technological system which extends throughout all areas of society. This makes standardisation of IoT complex and difficult to coordinate. If all sub-areas work separately with regulation and standardisation of IoT, it is more difficult to realise the benefits that the new technology can deliver, and there is a risk of there being a major bureaucratic burden for trade and industry, which find it difficult to manage the parts separately.
In several of the countries studied, standardisation is emphasised as an important component in relation to competition with other countries. The Asian countries in the study also increasingly seem to be cooperating with each other in order to put their mark on international standards. Being an active participant in international standardisation processes enables a country’s representatives to configure the standards according to their own requirements. Standardisation thereby becomes a tool by which companies can disseminate their technology and their products, and gain access to markets. Several of the countries have an established strategy and process for how to approach new areas that are to be standardised, for example, China, South Korea and Japan, where national groups are quickly appointed in order to match the groupings that are created in the international standardisation organisations. These groups often bring together actors from trade and industry, the academic world and the government in order to review national needs, formulate a strategy and influence the international work in the direction that is most beneficial for their own industry.
In these countries, the government is also actively involved through giving authorities and other organisations a mandate to represent the country and the industry in its respective bodies, which ensures that the organisations occupy top positions in those bodies and contribute expertise. A clear trend is to try to fill as many secretariats and leading positions in standardisation committees as possible in order to be able to influence the setting of standards to their advantage.
There are a number of areas where Growth Analysis believes that Sweden may have something to learn from our competitor countries’ standardisation policies, for example:
- ”Standardisation roadmaps” are used in Germany to describe, and create, a common approach between the government, the academic world and trade and industry surrounding the present situation, priorities and future requirements for standardisation within particularly important areas.
- The majority of countries studied have targeted initiatives to gain more substantial representation in international standardisation organisations, for example, in terms of secretariat and rapporteur functions.
- Sweden could benefit from strengthening its policy intelligence surrounding international standardisation and distributing the information so that it is available for Swedish actors.
- The USA has started work on producing a ”Green paper” surrounding the Internet of Things, with the aim of identifying opportunities and challenges, as well as identifying which potential roles the government might adopt to support the development and implementation of IoT.
- In Japan and Germany, the governments are implementing a range of measures to monitor whether small companies are able to derive benefit from the advantages that IoT is expected to deliver. The Japanese government is organising an advice centre where small and medium-sized companies can turn to discuss how their R&D and existing products and services fit into global standardisation trends. In Germany there is a relatively fine-meshed network of information and advisory initiatives where small and medium-sized companies can obtain help to place their own operations in the context surrounding Industrie 4.0.
- Testbeds for IoT can enable standards to be tested in a full-scale environment and applications can be developed within the standard to improve the technology.