The connecting part of M2M is not really the interesting one, it’s the enabler. The computing part is the interesting one and where most value is created. Connecting things becomes easier and easier technically, practically and financially. Meanwhile the computing power in the cloud is developing immensely fast. Making information collected from machines and other relevant sources available to Internet application developers using the computing power available in the cloud will push innovation to new heights provided security and integrity is taken care of properly. By utilizing computing power in the cloud, devices can be lighter, faster, cheaper and optimized for other things like interaction and usability in something quite similar to the good old client server architecture.
Governments around the world try to support their local high tech industry and most cities today have their local incubators, investment funds and support programs. A quick and quite affordable way for governments on all levels to push and support innovation is to provide access for developers to data produced in the public sector and to promote, maybe push, usage of modern innovative information technology. The access must be affordable and not too complicated for the developers.
EU issued already 2003 the PSI directive – Directive on the re-use of public sector information – which was built on the two key pillars of the internal market: transparency and fair competition. The directive defined minimum rules for re-use of PSI and recommended states to go beyond these rules and adopt open data policies. Several countries including Sweden have been chased by the Commission for slow or poor implementation of the PSI directive which in the case of Sweden is strange since we have had our legislation regarding freedom of information including the right to reprint official documents since 1766. In the most recent version of the directive, 2012, also museums, archives and libraries are covered in the scope.
Most data produced within governments remain there and their ability to attract developers to make innovative and useful applications and services for citizens and society are limited. The growing number of M2M solutions deployed will drastically increase the amount of useful data created why countries acting now will have a growing advantage to others.
I have found two good examples:
Denmark made the national address database accessible for developers free of charge 2002. A year ago the government reviewed the results and estimated the benefit for the society over the last five years was at least 60M€.
Holland made topographical data available free of charge to developers in the beginning of 2012. It is expected that this data will be used extensively in developers applications now when the high tariffs (about 50K€/developer) are removed.