The Race to Become the Epicenter of IoT

By Sara Brown

Monday, I attended a meeting of the North Carolina Regional Internet of Things (RIoT) group in Raleigh. Having just come from CTIA and IoT Evolution events in the past month, I have to confess—though well organized and staffed with knowledgeable speakers—there was nothing I haven’t heard before.

What stood out to me was the desire to “stake our claim” to be the internationally recognized epicenter of IoT; or, in the words of RIoT’s mission statement: “a global hub for IoT innovation.”

You may be asking yourself, “so what?” Research Triangle Park has long been a center of innovation in both the technology and pharma industries. True. After all—it is what the Park was built for back in the 60s.

Still, there seems something odd about trying to stake a geographic claim on the Internet of Things. After all, isn’t the true value of IoT in distributed intelligence across geographically diverse operations? Moreover, most of the companies represented, though boasting a large presence in the area, are not headquartered here.

RTP (or Raleigh-Durham, like the airport) is not alone in claiming dominance in IoT innovation. In fact, we are part of a growing set of locations laying claim to IoT grandure. While I appreciate the technology talent here (I grew up here and started my tech career here, after all), I fear RTP will have a hard time competing with the likes of Silicon Valley, Paris, New York, Dallas, Cambridge, Austin, Minneapolis—even Fargo (Silicon Prairie, really? Ok, maybe we can beat Fargo).

With a diverse ecosystem enabling IoT solutions and crossing a wide swath of expertise—all with the promise to reach out to remote assets and deliver unparalleled value—the debate about which local is leading the charge seems like an unnecessary diversion. I love my RIoT brethren. We’re united in a cause that is likely to change the world. But I think it’s time to set aside our geography and walk the walk when it comes to creating distributed intelligence across the globe for the betterment of business processes, healthcare, energy efficiency, quality of life, and so much more.