Budget 2015: Osbourne Pledges £140m To Support Internet of Things

The Internet of Things phenomenon is becoming quite impossible to ignore, even more so now because the UK government has pledged to fund £40 million to the development of applications for the Internet of Things and smart cities.

This was declared by George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, when announcing the Budget this year and is part of the UK government’s plan “to make the UK a global leader in emerging markets and technologies”.

Osborne specified that the millions would be “for demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub to develop applications for Internet of Things technologies in healthcare and social care, and Smart Cities”.

This is not the first time the government has pledged millions of pounds to the Internet of things; indeed the Prime Minister has, in the past, pledged a sum of £45 million to help with development. The UK government clearly sees huge benefit in the development of the Internet of Things and smart cities stating in the Budget, “smart city technology could prove transformative, as well as providing significant opportunities for supporting jobs and growth”.

Supporting jobs and economic growth is key for the government so it is no wonder they are allocating millions in order to trial, develop and showcase these new technologies.  In addition to the £40 million for the Internet of Things, the Budget also details a sum of £100 million which is being pledged towards developing “intelligent mobility”.

“Intelligent mobility” is further broken down in the Budget as “driverless car technology”, as well as a number of broader systems that are needed to apply and develop the technology, i.e. telecommunications.

The Budget announcement was welcomed warmly by many tech enthusiasts, such as Julian David, CEO of Tech UK and Simon Segars, CEO of chip designer ARM. Both see the investment into the Internet of Things as a crucial step in making the UK a global leader in the technology field.

Mr David stated that the funding will “accelerate the development of new innovative solutions for health, social care and smart cities” to which Mr Segars agreed stating it “will lead to new technologies and expertise that UK companies can export around the world”.

Segars also sees the investment as a way to jumpstart physical development in the smart technology field and gain an advantage over others: “through these projects the UK can prove in a cost-effective way what others are still theorising about”.

Of course, for all the advantages and positivity that news of the investment brought, some such as Mark Brown, Executive Director of Cyber Security and Resilience at EY see it as imperative that development in the field is approached with caution.

Whilst recognising that continued development will open up many new opportunities and can lead to great innovations within health and social care, he also expressed his growing concerns about the security risks that come hand in hand with internet-connected devices, specifying the risks surrounding the erosion of “traditional organisational perimeters” and how existing security defences will be put under “increasing pressure”.

There is no denying that the investment detailed in this years’ Budget into the Internet of Things is very exciting and shows the government’s commitment to ensuring its people are looked after and that the UK continues to be a world leader.

However, there is also no hiding from the fact that there are a number of risks involved in developing such interconnectivity. Mr Brown sees it as “imperative that the funding allocated by the government not only supports the opportunities posed by the IoT but addresses the inevitable risks it also brings,” and many would agree with him!

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