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In the last 200 years, our world has transformed because of two major waves of innovation. The first began in the 18th century with the Industrial Revolution, which ushered in machines, factories, electricity, cars, and air travel. The second revolution was the emergence of the internet, which gave us unprecedented access to information at the tips of our fingers. Today, our world is preparing for another wave of innovation that is already improving our daily lives in countless ways: the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things (IoT) combines the world-changing revolutions of the past two centuries to bring people together across industries and around the globe through internet connectivity embedded into everyday objects that can collect and communicate data.

We have already begun to experience the advancements in IoT technologies. Our phones, thermostats, cars, security systems, manufacturing plants, and medical equipment are just a few examples of internet-connected infrastructure – and the list is growing. Recent reports project that 125 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things by 2030.[1] According to Business Insiders Intelligence, investment has the potential to reach within $15 trillion by 2025.[2] A few years ago, the global I.T. firm, Cisco, described the IoT as “potentially the biggest business opportunity in the history of mankind.”

We don’t need to look far to see how the Internet of Things can benefit our economy and communities here at home. Our farmers are already using sensors in their fields to collect essential data on crop yields, soil moisture, weather patterns, and pesticide use. Livestock producers are using technology to monitor the location and health of their cattle. IoT can also help manage chronic health conditions, improve logistics in transportation, and provide real-time information to public safety personnel.

As we prepare for an even more connected future, we need to have a framework set in place at the federal level that is built on constant input from innovators and experts, not a top-down approach from Washington bureaucrats.

In 2015, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution I introduced with a group of bipartisan senators which called for a national strategy to encourage the development of the Internet of Things. Together, we have listened and learned how we can foster IoT innovations in the Senate. But we also heard of concerns about the risk of overregulation and conflicting guidance from federal agencies.

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That’s why I led an expanded bipartisan effort with Sens. Brian Schatz, Cory Gardner, and Cory Booker to introduce the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things (DIGIT) Act. Our bill convenes a working group of public entities and private stakeholders from the healthcare, energy, transportation and agriculture sectors, security experts, small businesses, manufacturers, consumer groups, and more. The group will collaborate to provide recommendations to Congress on how to encourage the growth of the Internet of Things and identify any barriers to its advancement. The Senate Commerce Committee recently passed the DIGIT Act unanimously.

We want the federal government to create a foundation that fosters investment in the Internet of Things by preventing regulatory silos and enhancing communication between the private sector and federal agencies.

Given the public sector’s successful influence in the development of the internet, our government should continue to make every effort to strengthen an environment that stimulates new ideas and advances technology. That depends heavily on a robust national strategy that promotes the development and deployment of IoT.

Innovators, researchers, and entrepreneurs should have significant input on how we can best improve the Internet of Things, rather than a “government knows best” mentality. From health care to transportation to agriculture, future generations of Nebraskans can benefit from the DIGIT Act. I will continue to work across party lines to ensure it is enacted into law.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

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