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Europe May Lead Next Web

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Europe is leading the way in developing standards for next-generation Web technology. The European Commission (EC) last fall released a study outlining the steps necessary to make Europe a leader in the future Internet. The EC study said the Internet of Things will be a key element of the future Web and could significantly boost Europe's economy. "The intent is to come up with a global standard spearheaded by Europe following the same philosophy as in GSM, where if we want to connect mobile phones it's easier if they all follow the same standard," says SAP's Lutz Heuser.

Establishing key standards that will identify smart objects and enable them to communicate on the Web is a major objective, as is creating standards for next-generation radio frequency identification tagging systems. This year the EC is expected to propose policies on radio spectrum, consumer privacy and data security, and network structures.

SRI senior researcher Michael Gold says Europe's strength is in providing early funding for new technologies. "Their governments collaborate to fund research that could have an impact on the long-term future," Gold says. "They do that with [commercial] markets in mind more so than the U.S. government."

An SRI report to the U.S. National Intelligence Council identified the Internet of Things as one of six disruptive civil technologies, along with biogerontechnology, energy storage materials, biofuels, clean coal, and service robots. The report warned that the United States would not be a source of Internet of Things technologies, and that it has a labor-cost disadvantage that feeds into a manufacturing technology disadvantage.

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