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Chi Onwurah MP on why she believes in the Internet of Things

I am an Internet of Things believer. I've studied it, lived it, effectively built bits of it, I was the first MP to speak about it in the House. I believe in it, that it has the potential to transform our lives more than anything since electricity.

But equally if I see any more smart city slideware with smiling super-connected uber-citizens remote-controlling their way into the sunset, I shall run screaming from the room.

We have the technology we aspire to. And all technology brings with it opportunities and also challenges, especially something as potentially transformative as the internet of things.

When I was at Ofcom we would calculate future broadband bandwidth requirements for the UK. We knew we didn't need to take account of the miniscule data requirements of networks monitoring critical infrastructure like hydroelectric dams and gas installations – e.g. one byte a minute - which were on separate networks for security reasons.

Well whilst I was moving into politics, someone moved them onto the internet, and they became part of the Internet of Things, with the huge security implications that raises. People are increasingly uncomfortable with how their data is being hijacked, used, stolen and breached. Imagine how they will feel about their water supply being hacked? Their children's bedrooms?

Government's primary responsibility is to keep its citizens safe. But it is failing that for citizens online. We need to make sure the IoT empowers and enables people, is in their hands and under their control.

This is not primarily a question of technology, but of standards, interoperability, protocols, control, industry co-operation, self-regulation – and, if necessary, legislation.

There are huge economic and social benefits, as well as environmental benefits, from energy management to tracking endangered species. Every time I wait at a bus stop I look forward to the IOT enabled truly integrated public transport system able to reflect what citizens want at any particular time. Buses that stop when you want them to, where you want them to, but don't stop if you are not there. That is a saving in terms of fuel, efficiency – and my time!

We need a Government that understands the opportunities of the IoT and works with industry to mitigates the threats. Then we can look forward to not just the IoT but further innovation as well – things that have yet to be thought of.

And that will make for interesting slideware!

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