In the past, regulation has been limited in its ability to achieve its major goal: avoid future incidents where individuals, the environment, or other public goods suffer because of some sort of action, from a pipeline leak to an airplane crash. That’s because the responsible companies or regulators could only intervene after a catastrophe had happened. Equally important, once a product had left the factory, a manufacturer had no idea how it actually operated in the field — until it broke down or malfunctioned. Because of the IoT’s ability to share data instantly and its ability to report on operating problems in their earliest stages, it is technically possible for companies and regulators to have real-time access to data about a possible violation while it is in progress. In some cases, such as with pipeline leaks or potential crises on off-shore oil rigs, that would make it possible to actually intervene before there’s a violation, in time to take corrective action.

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