Director, Technology and Domestic Economic Policy, National Association of Manufacturers
Spectrum Management, IoT Security, and Economic Growth
June 23, 2015— Spectrum management is an issue for both Internet-of-Things security and technological innovation. We spoke with Brian Raymond of the National Association of Manufacturers on the implications spectrum policy will have for both security and economic growth.
The CyberWire: Tell us a bit about the National Association of Manufacturers.
Raymond: We're the largest manufacturing trade association in the United States, and one of the oldest. We were founded in 1895, and we count some 14,000 companies as members, in every state and Congressional district. We cover a range of issues as an advocate for industry.
The CyberWire: You handle the technology portfolio, specifically.
Raymond: That's correct. Manufacturers are technology companies, and people are beginning to understand that. There's a misperception of manufacturing as being nothing more than smokestack industries—grimy floors, old-fashioned assembly lines, and so on.
The CyberWire: It's an odd confusion. At some point "technology" came to connote "information technology" only.
Raymond: That's right. But there's a growing understanding of the way technology pervades manufacturing. Congress hasn't always been up to speed on this trend. We've been working to educate the Hill that manufacturers are in fact technology companies. When they talk, for example, about protecting intellectual property, we want Congress to go to the bulldozer makers and the appliance manufacturers, not just the software shops. They now realize that we need a seat at the table: manufacturers impact technology, and technology has an impact on manufacturers.
The CyberWire: So let's turn to the question of spectrum management, and the implications it has for information security. Let me begin by getting an obvious question out of the way. Is the Internet-of-things destined to run on wireless?
Raymond: Yes. The short answer is yes. Everything's going to be connected on cellular, Wi-Fi, whatever networks. Devices connect to deliver product and drive down costs, and as those devices become more remote, they'll need wireless connectivity.
The CyberWire: And so tell us about the significance of spectrum management for the Internet-of-things.
Raymond: The electromagnetic spectrum is finite. It's got to allocated and managed effectively. We'd like to see, and are seeing, an open Internet debate. The FCC has to get the upcoming spectrum allocation right. We don't have a position on allocating it by sector or using any other approach, but we do think the process has to be managed effectively.
The CyberWire: Are you concerned that poorly allocated and managed spectrum could lead to mutual jamming? What would be the worst-case scenario, in your view?
Raymond: Let me offer an anecdote. Remember the controversy surrounding LightSquared? John Deere was concerned that what LightSquared proposed to do would have impacted products, and the safety of products. LightSquared wasn't a bad guy, but we can't afford to have one industry succeed at the expense of another.
The CyberWire: LightSquared being the company that sought to deliver wholesale, hybrid terrestrial and satellite 4-G LTE broadband. There were concerns about GPS interference, among other issues.
Raymond: That's correct, and it’s a good example of how spectrum management has security implications. Some of our members were concerned that its plans threatened to interfere with other users of the spectrum, particularly devices calling from products, and that those concerns hadn't been thought through. Traditional manufacturers need to engage with spectrum management. The technology inside a product is becoming the product's differentiator in the marketplace. Take agricultural machinery. It now has technology that senses crops, soil conditions, weather, and so on. Agricultural machines now make calls. If a manufacturer's ability to use technology to deliver its products is impaired, we've got a problem.
The National Association of Manufacturers wants to see fair and open bidding for spectrum. Traditional carriers have an in, but there are other stakeholders, and neither we nor the FCC should be picking winners and losers.
The CyberWire: And what are the implications of this developing allocation for the security of the supply chain, for secure logistics?
Raymond: We just held a webinar on that very topic. Awareness of the security issue is pervasive throughout the supply chain. Vendors have begun to recommend best practices to address it. It's important to understand how pervasive technology has become in manufacturing. We were recently talking with an iron smelter up in Baltimore, an old company. 3-D printing has revolutionized the way they go to market, the way they produce, for example, custom molds. They've seen an uptick in business, in their ability to hire workers, and so on. Smaller companies throughout the supply chain are deploying connected technology. We try to explain this to peer businesses, and of course on Capitol Hill. It's important for them to understand the significance of embedded sensors in some of the most surprising places—like hoses, to take one example—and how they lower the cost of ownership.
The CyberWire: What about the logistic system broadly conceived, specifically, what about the security concerns a globalized supply chain confronts manufacturers with?
Raymond: Our mission at the National Association of Manufacturers is to grow industry in the United States. Our broad agenda include supporting a favorable tax, regulatory, and export environment, and a strong intellectual property regime.
The CyberWire: What are your views on using wireless devices to secure supply chain integrity, to guard against, for instance, the insertion of counterfeit or otherwise substandard components into the supply chain?
Raymond: Manufacturers are fully aware of that threat. It can even place customer lives at risk, and it obviously carries lesser but still serious risks to brands and businesses. The entire supply chain has to be secured, and that's a huge challenge. Hacks that impinge on the physical world are the most serious kind, in our view.
This is now a boardroom issue. CIOs and CISOs are now linked. I recently visited a major telecom company in Dallas, where I heard from their Vice President of the Internet of Things. They're making a huge business play to manufacturing security. In December, Cargo Logistics America is meeting in San Diego, and they'll be talking cyber security with us a lot. Manufacturers have embraced connected technology, but they're also very alive to the cyber security and privacy dimensions of the field.
The CyberWire: What policies would you like to see enacted?
Raymond: We strongly believe that fair and open bidding would yield effective spectrum management. We would like to see the development of an environment that would incentivize creation of a robust telecommunication infrastructure. Lack of investment would mean, ultimately, lack of innovation. We need to allow manufacturers to innovate, on their shop floors, to deliver value to their customers.
Don't get me wrong: sensible regulation is important. But it needs to be sensible. The last thing our economy needs is manufacturing headwinds. We'd like to see the government as a partner.
Let me end with another anecdote. I've heard the CEO of a leading mining services company talk about how connected technology has transformed his business. He's got thousands of sensors on a single mine wall, a mile deep. If that reduces the cost of extraction by a dollar a ton, he believes he's saved his customers millions annually. That's the kind of innovation and productivity we want to secure.
The CyberWire: Thank you, Mr. Raymond.