The rollout of billions of sensors and controllers in the Internet of Things (IoT) will create a wide range of challenges and opportunities for developers but only if key problems are tackled.

“Who owns the data [in the IoT]?”


A recent sell-out IoT Boost conference at the Watershed brought together leading technologists from Bristol and the rest of the UK to look at these issues. From security to data management, the IoT will potentially generate huge amounts of data, and the next generation of low-cost silicon chips will open up a flood of new applications.

“Who owns the data [in the IoT]?” said Ron Rock, CEO of US data management technology company Microshare (pictured above). “All I know is that nobody knows who owns it and that it will change – we have been wrestling with multi-party data ownership for 30 years with credit cards, and the same thing will happen with IoT.”

“As everything becomes connected, security is no longer a cost but a duty of care and part of corporate social responsibility”


He sees the current IoT as similar to the internet in 1992 without the World Wide Web, with disparate applications such as smart-lighting and smart-heating that don’t share data. “All of the systems need to talk to each other securely and compliantly,” he said. “We are in 1992 internet – we see this thing [called IoT] and people are starting to understand but as the new chips come online the floodgates will open and that’s where the challenges come into play. Once I can share data the gloves are off and everyone will be running at this at a hundred miles an hour.”

The day included speakers from Dyson, which has an IoT design centre in Bristol as well as its headquarters in nearby Malmesbury, as well as global technology firms Qinetiq and General Dynamics UK.

Security in the IoT

Security of the devices and the data is critical to the success of the IoT. As Roger Shepherd, founder of Bristol startup Chipless and an ambassador for the IoT Security Foundation (IoTSF) explained during the conference: “Security is a collaborative endeavour. Attackers need just one exploit, but defenders need to cover all angles – this is a shared responsibility.”

“The IoTSF is trying to change the way business regards security”, he adds. “As everything becomes connected, security is no longer a cost but a duty of care and part of corporate social responsibility.”

The IoT Boost programme in Bristol is run by High Tech Bristol and Bath.