Grand Opening of IBM’s Global Government Industry Lab

Grand Opening of IBM’s Global Government Industry Lab at the
Watson Industry of Things Innovation Center
Munich, October 11, 2017
CDA Kent Logsdon

Thank you, Sanjay Brahmawar (General Manager, Watson IoT).  It is a pleasure and a privilege to join you here today at the Watson Industry of Things Innovation Center.  The addition of a Global Government Industry Lab to this world-class research facility is in itself a recognition of the importance of the Internet of Things, digitization, and artificial intelligence for the public and the private sector.

This is also an extraordinary project for what it says about the importance of transatlantic investment.  One of IBM’s largest investments in Europe, it is an excellent example of U.S.-EU cross border investment in business and technology, which continues to grow at a healthy pace.  Alone in the past few weeks, Daimler-Benz announced an additional USD 1 billion investment in electric car manufacturing in Alabama.  Volvo is expanding its investment in South Carolina.  U.S. companies continue to look for investment opportunities in Europe; and vice versa.  My colleagues from the U.S. Commercial Service counsel companies that are interested in broadening those kinds of activities.  This is the kind of investment that is good today for communities and good for jobs.

But given the enormous rate of technological change, transatlantic R&D cooperation is also essential to ensure a successful transition into the digital economy tomorrow.  According to a recent study, up to 50 billion ‘things’ or data points will be virtually connected by 2020.  Clearly, the Internet of Things represents the next step towards the digitization of our societies and our economies.  The United States and the EU maintain a strong comparative advantage in fostering the IoT movement.  We have the technology.  We have the human capital skills. And we have the industrial base to address the revolution that is taking place.

Recently, representatives from California university entrepreneurship centers visited Munich to discuss models for collaboration.  The message from “Silicon Valley” was that, in the future, success in innovation will require an ever increasing ‘flow through’ of ideas to share the burden when it comes to testing and evaluating successful business models – again, models that work in the private and the public sector.  Here at IBM’s Watson IoT Innovation Center, transformation is being driven by that kind of collaboration.

The Internet of Things can clearly deliver efficiency gains throughout a variety of business-to-business solutions, intelligent manufacturing, or logistics and supply chain support.  But as big data, digital solutions, and the “connection of things” grow, two of the most important segments will be smart governance and education services.  The expansion of IoT within public institutions, agencies and departments will be the focus of the new Global Government Industry Lab.  Smart cities, smart transportation, smart grid, health care, homeland security, and services – the public sector will make up a growing segment of the connected and big data environment encompassed within the IoT sphere of eGovernance.  There are big advantages.  By reducing information costs, digital technologies greatly lower the cost of economic and social transactions for the public sector, as well as firms and individuals.  They boost efficiency as existing activities and services become cheaper, quicker, or more convenient.  And they increase inclusion as people get access to services that previously were out of reach.

A lot is already happening in the public sector.

In the United States, the General Service Administration (the U.S. Government contracting agency) is automating a portion of its FASt Lane Program to review, process, and clear certain business to government, or B2G, purchasing agreements.  The Department of Defense has also implemented IoT for its logistics and supply chain management.  The United States Department of Agriculture connects sensors for food production yield to its statistical analysis. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration links weather sensors and data for critical research.

Government agencies and departments will need, however, to continue to invest in and develop IoT applications that will yield greater efficiencies and cost savings.  To do that, without a doubt, they will need private sector expertise and know-how.  Government specific laboratories in the United States and Europe – like the IBM’s Global Government Industry Lab here in Munich –can play a huge role in the development of IoT solutions that will yield greater efficiencies and cost savings within the public sector – in the short and long run.

But in order to accelerate and fully realize the potential of the Internet of Things, governments will also have to play a strong role.  They will have to work together to draft, and most significantly, to implement policies that address the broad impact of the flow of data across national borders.  Privacy and liability need to be addressed, as will interoperability and intellectual property protection. To that end, on December 7, we will host the 4th German American Data Protection Day here in Munich, where we will bring together public and private sector experts from Germany and the United States in a discussion on international data transfers and the Privacy Shield.

Last year, the European Union and the United States held its 14th Information Society dialogue.  This is part of an ongoing cooperation on digital economy issues.  Public sector commitment for R&D efforts on next-generation Internet technologies and private-sector development was reinforced.  Efforts were also strengthened to support data-driven innovation through shared information and development of international standards through industry-led, transparent, consensus-driven, market-responsive processes.

The United States and Europe were natural partners during the first industrial revolution in the 19th century.  We led the way in the first phases of the digital revolution in the 20th century; and our mutual efforts to address the challenges and opportunities of the unfolding digital revolution of the 21st century will strengthen our relationship and the goals we share for global prosperity and stability.

To all those at IBM who have worked so hard to make the Watson IoT Innovation Center and its new Global Government Industry Lab a success, congratulations.  And finally, this would not be possible without the support and cooperation of our German hosts.  That partnership is essential and much appreciated by all the American companies that invest in Germany.