Any Thing for Anyone? A New Digital Divide in Internet-of-Things Skills

Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen, Karen Mossberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The “Internet-of-Things” (IoT) promises social benefits across a range of policy areas, such as energy, health, transportation, public safety, and environmental policy, but attention to the skills needed by individuals who use it will be an important issue for public policy, in order to ensure full exploitation of these technologies and to avoid unintended consequences. We argue that comparative advantages of the IoT to people will vary based on differentiated skills and resources, enabling smaller groups of people to benefit, and disadvantaging others in new ways. This need for renewed attention to digital skills and knowledge might at first seem paradoxical, given that many of these technologies operate autonomously and behind the scenes. We discuss evolving digital technologies and related skills, and explain from a systems perspective how the IoT differs from prior technologies, with a premium placed on user knowledge and strategic skills. Finally, we bring together the issues of the digital divide and IoT skills, and set an agenda for future IoT public policy and research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-140
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy and Internet
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Internet-of-Things
  • IoT
  • big data
  • digital divide
  • digital skills
  • public policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Administration
  • Health Policy
  • Computer Science Applications


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