Lab: Public Policy and the Internet of Things

Academic Program: Master of Public Administration (2 years)
Instructor: Phil Howard
Credits: 2.0

This is a course about the politics and policy of the internet of things. By 2020 our world will be filled with connected devices. This "internet of things" consists of human made objects with small power supplies, embedded sensors, and an address on the internet. Most of these networked devices are everyday items that are sending and receiving data about their conditions and our behavior. Unlike mobile phones and computers, devices on these networks are not designed for deliberate social interaction, content creation or cultural consumption. The bulk of these networked devices are items that communicate with other devices: coffee makers, car parts, clothes, and a plethora of other human-made products. This will not be an internet you experience through a browser. Indeed, as the technology develops, many of us will be barely aware that so many things around us have power, are sensing, and are sending and receiving data.

Students will be involved in original research through a group project—publication of original research about how policy is being set on the IoT and what policy should look like for the development of a healthy IoT. This class is all about researching and writing in teams. We will be doing real-time policy research, which means that the management and flow of tasks, group discussion of priorities and findings, and a shared understanding of how to advance policy discourse in Europe, is paramount.