Innovation Ireland Forum panel 3: Internet of things (videos)

28 Oct 2014

(Left to right) Ann O'Dea, Silicon Republic; Paul Hickey, ESB Networks; Prof Gregory O'Hare, UCD Earth Institute; Prof Willie Donnelly, TSSG; and Philip Moynagh, Intel, at the Innovation Ireland Forum in Dublin. Photo by Robbie Reynolds

At the Innovation Ireland Forum, experts from Intel, ESB, TSSG and UCD Earth Institute discussed the remarkable potential of the internet of things (IoT), as well as the security and privacy challenges of a connected world.

The panel consisted of some of the biggest names in IoT in Ireland, including Intel’s VP of IoT, Philip Moynagh; Prof Willie Donnelly, director of Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG) in Waterford Institute of Technology; Prof Gregory O’Hare, director of the UCD Earth Institute; and Paul Hickey, manager of systems and sustainability at ESB Networks.

Among the topics that arose, privacy was perhaps the biggest challenge, according to the panel who all agreed that there are potential pitfalls to a technology that would allow all our devices to be connected, that is, if current and future generations do not get a firm grasp on an understanding of their online security presence. It is undoubtedly, they said, one of the issues that will slow down adoption if not tackled.

Moynagh, as one of the world’s leading authorities on the subject, even went as far as describing a lack of security as a pre-tense for harm on a national level: “It used to be the case that armies faced each other, then it progressed to guerrilla warfare, then most recently it was to fly an aeroplane into a building but the next version would be to switch off the Irish grid power through a lack of security. The brilliance of connecting things has a downside if you don’t secure it.”

Making Ireland a data protected hub for companies

Far from being perceived as just a negative however, the panel, particularly Prof Donnelly, saw the need for establishing secure operations for businesses and said that such expertise could contribute to making Ireland a world leader in IoT, by establishing safe data protection laws.

Again on the topic of Ireland being a future leader of IoT, they looked at combining two opposite sides to the spectrum that Ireland has excelled at in recent years and for decades, that is, technology and agriculture.

Potential for an agriculture and IoT combination

Speaking of this potential, Prof Donnelly said that with 96pc of Ireland’s land not built upon, Ireland could ‘feed the world by combining our expertise in agriculture and ICT’, particularly with the recent appointment of Phil Hogan as The European Union’s (EU) commissioner for agriculture.

In agreement, Prof O’Hare said that there’s no excuse for Ireland not to be on top of our game and being one of the main instigators of the ever-changing landscape of the internet: “The world where we think of things as an island where they don’t have any connection from other devices is fundamentally archaic.”  

This push is being facilitated country-wide by the likes of Paul Hickey of ESB Networks who spoke of their recent decision to partner with Vodafone to use their nationwide network of cabling to bring fibre-broadband to all corners of the country describing this period as ‘a great time to be a part of’.

Main image caption (Left to right): Silicon Republic CEO Ann O’Dea; Paul Hickey, manager, systems and sustainability, ESB Networks; Prof Gregory O’Hare, director, UCD Earth Institute; Prof Willie Donnelly, founder, director and chair of TSSG, and VP of research and innovation, Waterford Institute of Technology; and Philip Moynagh, VP, internet of things, Intel

Innovation Ireland Forum, third panel discussion, part 1 of 2:

Innovation Ireland Forum, panel 3, part 1 of 2

Innovation Ireland Forum, third panel discussion, part 2 of 2:

Innovation Ireland Forum, panel 3, part 2 of 2

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic