The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure.
It overlaps with the notion of Ubiquitous Computing which usually conjures up a vision of small, inexpensive, robust networked processing devices, distributed at all scales throughout everyday life and generally turned to distinctly common-place ends. For example, a domestic ubiquitous computing environment might interconnect lighting and environmental controls with personal biometric monitors woven into clothing so that illumination and heating conditions in a room might be modulated, continuously and imperceptibly. Another common scenario posits refrigerators "aware" of their suitably tagged contents, able to both plan a variety of menus from the food actually on hand, and warn users of stale or spoiled food.
The European Commission conflates the two notions and states that the scope of IoT applications is expected to greatly contribute to addressing today’s societal challenges; some examples are: health monitoring systems will help meet the challenges of an ageing society; connected trees will help fight deforestation; connected cars will help reduce traffic congestion and improve their recyclability, thus reducing their carbon footprint. This interconnection of physical objects is expected to amplify the profound effects that large-scale networked communications are having on our society, gradually resulting in a genuine paradigm shift.
Despite these notions being around for some years it is still a relatively early stage for practical realisation of benefits. It is fairly plain from the descriptions above that there are governance, ethical and privacy issues arising out of the use of ICT in this fashion.
BCS is engaging with this effort and a Working Group has been set up to formalise engagement with, initially, the UN IGF Dynamic Coalition while also determining where else it is sensible and effective to engage. This is going to be a global issue which will need global thinking for global solutions and BCS, as a global institute, aims to be a thought leader.