Thank you, Mr. Chair, and honourable members. Thank you very much for having ITAC at this session.
Just to introduce ourselves, ITAC represents the technology sector of the country. With over 300 companies, we produce about $160 billion in revenue and one million jobs. Most importantly, we spend about $5 billion on R and D, so the disruptive technology discussion is very apropos.
There are several disruptive technologies that are unfolding at the same time. They range from robotics to the cloud to genomics to 3-D printing to renewable energy. However, we need to address them not only as discrete technologies but also look at how these innovations collide and create a new world, because they are and they will be always connected and intelligent.
A McKinsey report recently talked about several disruptive technologies. Today, I will speak about one that falls in the top three, and it is often referred to as the Internet of things, or IoT. The Internet of things, or IoT, is the online interaction between different technologies. All of the disruptive technologies you have heard about and you will be hearing about over the next little while through this committee will essentially dovetail into IoT as they all become interconnected and in some part reside online.
As ITAC, we look at technology through the filter of public policy. We understand the benefits of innovation but also its implications. For our members this is a major issue in the technology sector: how to deal with the policy and the new business models that will emerge. Today I will comment on what it means, why it is important, and what the impacts are.
ITAC wants this committee and the government to recognize IoT and develop a national discourse, ignite a must-have dialogue amongst academia and private sector and public sector experts, and start a discussion to begin developing a policy framework to proactively deal with it.
IoT creates the ultimate connected world where intelligence is shared between machines, applications, and services, and therefore creates data models that will significantly improve the way we make decisions. In fact, sometimes the decision may not even require human intervention. Simply put, technologies will connect, work together, and communicate online. It provides us with capability rather than technology. The solution comprises technology and telecom hardware, software, services, sensors, applications, security, radio frequency, etc. Most of it will be cloud-based and mobile-enabled.
Just to give you two examples, recently a company in Alberta, called GrowSafe, used RFID tags for their livestock. What that means is that it allows them to measure many factors related to wellness of the farm animals. This gives farmers the visibility on health and development to proactively deal with the animals, and this makes our food supply safer. This is an example of the Internet of things, a capability that resulted from multiple things communicating one with the other through technology and the Internet without human intervention.
I'll give you a second example. Dr. Carolyn McGregor, Canada research chair in health informatics at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, leads a project that significantly improves the survival of premature babies. The combination of cloud computing, wireless technology, and data analytics has provided their team with the ability to detect infections in preemies earlier than before, and this has saved a lot of lives. Again, it's an example of the Internet of things, whereby a multitude of hardware, software, services, and centres that come together without human interaction will truly usher in a new world we have not seen before.
Unfortunately, not all great things are devoid of consequences. There are several things we need to address. Privacy is one of the greatest concerns. Canada has been at the forefront of global leadership on safeguarding privacy and with the evolution of our digital age this could be compromised. Safety and security is a problem. While these new technologies have benefits, IoT will dramatically increase the attack surface available to bad actors. With the capacity issues, bandwidth and network capacities in rural areas, regardless of infrastructure investments made, will become a scarce resource and their governance even more complex.
Economic and commercial and public policy issues are very far-reaching. There are intellectual property and trade issues. Who owns the data that's being generated? Standards and legal frameworks issues: what regulations can be put in place for competing technologies to work together and what kind of governance is required to be ethical? There are workforce implications. A recent study done in the U.S. demonstrates that robotics may replace up to 40% of their workforce. The policy implications are very serious and we need to address them.
As the Information Technology Association of Canada, we strongly recommend that the standing committee continue this discussion into new sessions and beyond. IoT will be a truly disruptive force, moving faster than you can see it happening.
For our part, ITAC is starting to create a white paper with several top leaders and as soon as it's ready, we'll have it translated and sent to all of you. We have established an IoT round table of leading industry experts who have pledged to contribute and provide perspective, insight, and knowledge on this important factor.
We ask the standing committee and the government that a national discourse be created with a proper secretariat and facilities so we can do a deep dive, have further investigation done, and have the policy framework that prepares for the IoT that is coming. Much like the information highway in the 1990s, it needs that level of attention from the government of the day.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.