Yesterday, the Deputy CTO of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a press release highlighting the efforts (and success) of the Obama Administration in getting data compiled at public expense into the hands of the private sector for commercial repurposing. The release refers to a McKinsey & Company report that estimates that making such data publicly available “can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in seven key domains of the global economy, including education, transportation, and electricity.”
If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants
Sir Isaac Newton, 1676
If the phrase “open innovation” has a familiar ring, that’s not surprising. It’s not only a popular buzz phrase, but it has the type of virtuous ring to it that instinctively inspires a favorable reaction. But like most simple phrases, it intrigues rather than enlightens. For example, is open innovation feasible in all areas of creative, commercial and scientific endeavor? If so, do the rules, challenges and rewards differ from discipline to discipline, and if it’s not universally feasible, why not?
The big news in the standards arena yesterday was a joint announcement by five of the standards setting organizations (SSOs) that have been most essential to the creation of the Internet and the Web: IEEE, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Internet Architecture Board (IAB), Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and Internet Society (the last three being closely affiliated entities).
Joint announcements by SSOs are rare, and the subject matter of this announcement was more so: each organization was joining in the endorsement of a set of five principles that they assert support a “new paradigm for standards” development.
It’s very rare for me to write a blog entry directed solely at what someone else has written, but there’s an exception to every rule. This one is directed at a posting by Alex Brown, entitled UK Open Standards *Sigh*.
The short blog entry begins with Alex bemoaning the hard, cruel life of the selfless engineers that create technical standards:
It can be tough, putting effort into standardization activities – particularly if you're not paid to do it by your employer. The tedious meetings, the jet lag, the bureaucratic friction and the engineering compromises can all eat away at the soul.
The following is the introduction to the Feature Article in the most recent issue of Standards Today, the free "eJournal of News, Ideas and Analysis" that I have been writing for the last seven years. You can read the entire article here, and sign up for a free subscription here.
For more than 100 years, the United States has been the exemplar of the "bottom up" model of standards development. Under this methodology, society relies on the private sector to identify standards-related needs and opportunities in most sectors, and then develops responsive specifications. Government, for its part, retains ultimate control over domains such as health, safety, and environmental protection, but preferentially uses private sector standards in procurement, and also references private sector standards into law when appropriate (e.g., as building codes).
Until recently, government agencies in the United States commonly developed their own standards for procurement purposes. This era of separate but equal standards creation officially came to an end with the passage of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. With this legislation, Congress directed government agencies to use "voluntary consensus standards" (VCSs) and other private sector specifications wherever practical rather than "government unique standards," and to participate in the development of these standards as well. In 1998, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 was amended to provide additional guidance to the Federal agencies on complying with the NTTAA.
The pace of technology is wondrous indeed. No corner of our lives seems safe from digital invasion, from picture frames to pasta makers. For years now, we have been threatened with Internet-enabled refrigerators, and perhaps 2011 will see it so.
Nor is the process likely to stop there. Soon, we are told, our homes will become infested by "mesh networks" of sensors, each one whispering information surreptitiously to its neighbor, in order to render our lives more energy efficient. But in so doing, they will observe our every move and report it to heavens knows whom.
On December 8, the U.S. National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) issued a public Request for Information on behalf of the recently formed Sub-Committee on Standards of the National Council of Research and Technology. The titular goal of the RFI is to assist the Sub-Committee in assessing the “Effectiveness of Federal Agency Participation in Standardization in Select Technology Sectors.” Although the publication of the RFI gave rise to not a single article in the press, this event was none the less extremely consequential.
Standards cover an awful lot of ground — how big things are; how much they weigh; how fast they go; how much power they consume; how pure they are; how they must be shaped so that they fit together — the list goes on and on. But despite the enormous range of characteristics that standards define, you notice that they all have one thing in common: you can describe them by using the word "how."
In short, standards relate to measurable things. Indeed, the earliest formal standards created in societies everywhere were usually those related to weights and measures. Invariably these were established when trade became more sophisticated than tribal bartering. Ever since, the history of standards has largely been one of establishing ways to define more and more measurable characteristics as they became important and as the scientific ability to test them came along.
There is, however, one exception to this rule. Curiously enough, it involves a standard that is as old as weights and measures themselves. And despite its ancient lineage, nations still can't agree for very long on what measuring stick should be used, or how it should work. This is rather remarkable, given that the standard in question is perhaps the only one that nearly everyone makes use of almost very day of their lives.
That standard, of course, is money — dollars, Euros, renminbi — each one a measure of value.
The last issue of Standards Today focused on XML - the underpinning of ODF and hundreds of other standards - and one of the most important standards ever developed. Here is the editorial from that issue.
One of the many intriguing concepts mooted by Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and Jesuit priest with polymathic insights (his academic explorations range from paleontology to the meaning of the Cosmos) is the "noosphere." In de Chardin's vision, the reality of the world encompassed not just the geosphere (inanimate matter) and biosphere (all forms of life), but an ever expanding nimbus of knowledge representing the fusion of the minds and knowledge of all humans.
In a short while, an important vote will be taken in downtown Denver, Colorado. If as expected that vote is in the affirmative, a unique and important public-private partnership will spring into being. It will also have an extremely ambitious goal: to assess, assemble, explain and promote the complex and evolving web of standards that will be needed to make the vision of a Smart Grid in the United States a reality. It will also mark the end of the first chapter in a journey that began with the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
What is a Smart Grid, compared to what we have now? Today, we have centralized production of electricity, with distribution of that power being handled by somewhat interconnected, regional networks to commercial and home users. We also have burgeoning green house gas emissions, growing dependence on foreign oil, both as a result of our need to keep increasing our generating capacity in order to meet whatever the peak national electrical need may be.
Quote of the Day
“Through this Notice, NTIA seek s broad input from all interested stakeholders...on the potential benefits and challenges of [the Internet of Things]and what role, if any, the U.S. Government should play in this area”
-National Telecommunications and Information Administration Request for Information
China-Russia Align on Cyberspace and Information Sovereignty USITO.org Weekly July 1, 2016 - On June 25, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a joint statement on cooperation in information and cyberspace developments.
In order to enhance mutual trust in cyberspace and build a fair system for development, the following outcomes have been decided:
1.Show respect for every country’s sovereignty in the information space
2.Show respect for cultural traditions and social customs
3.Strengthen technological and economic cooperation in cyberspace... ...Full Story
Openfunds launches global standard for fund data interchange Tanya Andreasyan BankingTech.com June 30, 2016 - Zurich-based non-profit organisation, openfunds, has created a global standard for the characterisation of investment funds.
The goal of the new standard is to improve efficiency, transparency and reliability by eliminating potential sources of error and ambiguity during fund data interchange.
Openfunds is now calling for a global adoption of the standard....At present, investment fund data is often sent from fund providers to their distribution partners in an archaic fashion: via Excel spreadsheets. Predictably, this can lead to duplication and errors at the fund provider’s end given that the individual spreadsheets are usually created manually for each distributor.
Also, the current fields leave room for interpretation. This results in inefficiencies, errors and ambiguities during data transfer, needing reconciliation between fund providers and their distribution partners....
At the heart of it are unique data identifiers (data-IDs), all in the same format...Openfunds version 1.0 has nearly 200 data fields.... ...Full Story
3GPP works out work programme for first 5G specifications Keith Dyer The Mobile Network June 29, 2016 - The first formal specifications for 5G technology from 3GPP will define New Radio technology, and will be ready in June 2018, despite a request from an influential group of operators for a slightly different timeline.
3GPP, the body that consolidates and defines specifications for mobile technology into standards authorities, has released its workplan for Release-15 (R15) – showing how specifications for a New Radio interface, in frequencies both below and above 6GHz, will be taken forward.The body said that it hopes to start defining the next generation architecture in December 2016, and then the 5G New Radio in March 2017. Standards will be frozen in June 2018.... ...Full Story
European Commission Issues Plans to Modernize EU's Standardization Policy ANSI.org Weekly News June 28, 2016 - This month, the European Commission released a communications proposal detailing initiatives to modernize the European Union’s standardization policy, in order to keep pace with global technological developments, political priorities, and other international trends. The Commission intends to modernize the European Standardization System (ESS) in cooperation with industry, European Standardization Organizations (ESOs), small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and all other interested stakeholders. It also announced next steps on the Joint Initiative on Standardization (JIS), which aims to reinforce the partnership between the European institutions and the greater standardization community.
Detailed in its Single Market Strategy, the Commission is focused on a single and coherent ESS that “adapts to the changing environment, supports multiple policies, and brings benefits and predictability to consumers and businesses.” Standards, which are strategic assets for boosting competitiveness, also support the service economy and help ensure the quality and safety of products and services.
As outlined in the Commission’s press release, the plan will serve the standardization community and related stakeholders by:
- Providing greater clarity on service standards and how they can be used;
- Helping the Commission and standard setters identify problems and gaps where European service standards could be most useful;
- Encouraging more effective and targeted development of European service standards in the areas where they can be most beneficial to businesses and consumers;
- Helping remove and reduce national barriers faced by service providers; and
- Promoting greater awareness of standards.... ...Full Story
American Bar Association Resolution on IBR Scheduled for August Vote ANSI Weekly News June 27, 2016 - A proposed American Bar Association (ABA) Resolution encourages Congress to amend the Administrative Procedure Act to require agencies to make standards that have been incorporated by reference (IBR) accessible, without charge, to members of the public – at minimum: online, read-only access to the incorporated portion of the standard. The Resolution further requests that agencies review their historical incorporations by reference, and make such arrangements for these standards as well, or amend or repeal the regulation to eliminate the incorporation by reference....The Resolution will be up for vote before the ABA House of Delegates in August 2016.... ...Full Story
Publication of SES 3:2016, Recommended Practice for Joint Standards Development Press Release SES.org June 24, 2016 - SES - The Society for Standards Professionals is pleased to announce the publication of a Recommended Practice for Joint Standards Development to provide guidance to Standards Development Organizations by outlining the key components of a Joint Standards Agreement and a recommended process for managing the development of Joint Standards.
Recent trends indicate an increase in efforts where two or more organizations enter into an agreement for the development and publication of a Joint Standard. These Joint Standards may have industrial, commercial, or consumer application, with use on a national, regional, or international level.
Joint Standards development can be accomplished through a variety of legal paths including contracts and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs), collectively referred to as the Agreement. Key components of a Joint Standards Agreement include scope and purpose, policies, process, dispute resolution, branding and publication, marketing and distribution, and maintenance....
SES 3:2016 is a great companion to SES 2:2011, Model Procedure for the Development of Standards, which addresses all of the essential due process requirements for standards development.... ...Full Story
MIIT Opens Applications for Cybersecurity Pilot Projects USITO.org Weekly June 20, 2016 - On June 8, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Network Security Management Department published a notice calling for 2016 Cybersecurity Pilot Projects in the telecommunications and internet industries. This is a continuation and expansion of last year's MIIT-led Pilot Program. Both notices made reference to the Guiding Opinions on Strengthening Telecommunications and Internet Industry Network Security Work (MIIT 2014: No. 368), which was first released in August 2014 and bore a strong resemblance to the original CBRC guiding opinions, emphasizing "secure and controllable" and a cyber review of "critical network products".
The announcement outlines key areas of focus for pilot projects, which includes cybersecurity threat monitoring and risk analysis, anti-DOS, data security and user information protection, domain system security, and cybersecurity solutions for emerging technologies such as cloud, big data, mobile Internet, IoT, connected cars, mobile payment, etc.
For companies interested in submitting a project proposal, the form requires that they disclose their key technology plan, including function chart, key technical indicators, and implementation process. The "Telecom and Internet Industry Cyber Security Pilot Projects Report Form" is available on the MIIT website and the application deadline is August 31. ...Full Story
Open Versus Closed: Addressing The IoT Standards Problem Forbes.com June 17, 2016 - When it comes to developing software for Internet of Things (IoT) projects, some companies are adopting open standards that everyone can share and adopt, while others are building and using their own.
Here, nine technology experts and members of Forbes Technology Council offer their thoughts on how the standards issue will play out as consumers demand devices that can “talk” to each other, and more and more companies get into the game.... ...Full Story
Identity and Access Management for Smart Home Devices: Seeking Feedback on Concept Paper NCCoE June 16, 2016 - Summary
The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ability of everyday objects (things) to connect to the internet and to send and receive data. This includes cameras, home automation systems, and industrial control systems. It is estimated that there are already 6.4 billion connected devices, and by 2020, there will be 20 billion. Industry experts agree that in spite of this projected growth, IoT technology is immature and lacks adequate security safeguards.
The NCCoE is seeking comments from industry on the challenges of identification, authentication, and authorization for devices in the IoT space; specifically requirements for authentication and authorization of autonomous non-person entities (NPE) found in smart home devices. Areas of interest include the following:... ...Full Story
InfoComm International Releases New Standard for Display Image Size Press Release Infocomm International June 15, 2016 - InfoComm International...is pleased to announce the release of a new standard for sizing displayed images for audiovisual systems: ANSI/INFOCOMM V202.01:2016, Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual Systems....
Display Image Size for 2D Content in Audiovisual Systems determines required display image size and relative viewing positions according to two defined viewing needs: basic decision making and analytical decision making. These two viewing categories are derived from ANSI/INFOCOMM 3M-2011 Projected Image System Contrast Ratio (PISCR). Image height, image resolution, and the size of image content are all prescriptive elements when determining required image size. The standard also addresses closest and farthest viewing distances, as well as relative horizontal and vertical viewer locations. It provides formulas to design and display content when encountering limitations in an environment. In addition to the standard, InfoComm will be providing a calculation/assessment tool on its website for determining proper display image size based on viewer needs....
"Until now, the AV industry has used guidelines that served their purpose in a different era, but whose provenance and basis could not be verified. The task group went back to basics and also referenced leading research and military standards," said Greg Jeffreys, Director of Visual Displays Ltd. and moderator for the standard task group. "As a designer and maker of large-screen displays, this standard will have a significant impact on my professional work. It will enable me to help clients to define what a good user experience comprises, and it gives me the tools and metrics to deliver just that."
"Content has historically been a part of the design consideration for image size. Content description, however, has been vague and its interpretation has been up to the designer," said Dick Tollberg, CTS®-D, Senior Design Engineer for AVI-SPL and member of InfoComm's Standards Steering Committee. "Before the standard, there was no way to quantify content in such a way that the designer could ensure that the image size was correct. The standard gives direction to the creators and presenters of the content, while allowing the designer to use familiar methods to determine the correct image size for a given room. If the designer and the content adhere to the standard, the designer can guarantee that the image size will be satisfactory for all room participants." ...Full Story