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Brazil Pushes to Become Leader in the Internet of Things

by Chelsea Han
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In June, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree establishing a national plan for the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT strategy is the culmination of a multi-year public-private partnership led by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications (MCTIC). The goal of the plan is to promote the development and adoption of IoT applications throughout the Brazilian economy by fostering free competition and free flow of data. The plan is an ambitious initiative to use IoT solutions to drive digital transformation across the Brazilian economy, and it is a useful model for other countries seeking to achieve similar results.

This national plan is the culmination of Brazil’s sustained efforts to increase IoT adoption for social and economic benefits. In 2017, it worked with McKinsey and Brazilian consultancy Fundação CPqD to develop a national action plan for IoT focusing on four key verticals: cities, health care, agriculture, and manufacturing.

For cities, the plan highlighted opportunities to use IoT to improve urban life, including by enhancing mobility, public safety, and sustainability. For example, building out a network of smart public lighting can both reduce energy costs and allow government officials to better monitor public places to improve security. For health care, the plan envisioned the use of IoT to increase access to hospitals through integration of patient information and better efficiency in the healthcare ecosystem, such as the use of smart medical devices to improve the delivery of telemedicine. For agriculture, the plan aimed to leverage IoT to improve the efficiency of agricultural production in Brazil, where agribusiness contributes 80 percent of GDP growth. And for manufacturing, the action plan identified how IoT can play a pivotal role in promoting the integration and cooperation in supplier chains of goods, components, services and inputs.

Brazil began the first step of implementing its action plan in April 2018, including compiling portfolios of digital initiatives to support the plan and determining the specifics for evaluating which projects to fund. However, the government was unable to finalize a decree to actually implement new policies to support this action plan and other IoT efforts.

The new national plan has several objectives, including promoting the use of IoT to improve quality of live for Brazilians, increase efficiency, and boost productivity and foster competitiveness, as well as promote the development of professional qualifications related to developing and working with IoT applications, and increase Brazils participation in international forums such as standards bodies to accelerate IoT development.

The decree also defines IoT devices and applications as value-added services, rather than communications equipment. This is significant because it exempts them from the Funds for the Inspection of Telecommunications (FISTEL) fee, which applies to telecommunications equipment in Brazil, lowering the cost barrier to deploying IoT applications.

Brazil has signed one of the most comprehensive IoT strategies into law, at a time when the United States and other economic superpowers still lack one. The potential benefits of the Internet of Things are only increasing, and the longer countries go without national IoT strategies, the more they will suffer for it.

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