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
“There’s over a million new pieces of malware that hit the system every day”
-Sifma cybersecurity operations manager Tom Wagner, describing the level of assault on major financial institution systems
New standard helps optical trackers follow moving objects precisely Phys Org December 2, 2016 - Throwing a perfect strike in virtual bowling doesn't require your gaming system to precisely track the position and orientation of your swinging arm. But if you're operating a robotic forklift around a factory, manipulating a mechanical arm on an assembly line or guiding a remote-controlled laser scalpel inside a patient, the ability to pinpoint exactly where it is in three-dimensional (3-D) space is critical.
To make that measurement more reliable, a public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new standard test method to evaluate how well an optical tracking system can define an object's position and orientation—known as its "pose"—with six degrees of freedom: up/down, right/left, forward/backward, pitch, yaw and roll.... ...Full Story
SD Association Launches Speedy New Standard for Smartphones Ernie Smith Associations Now December 1, 2016 - The association that sets the standards for the most popular kind of flash memory is upping its standards for mobile devices.
Last week, the SD Association (SDA) announced a new class of microSD card that is designed to allow for use on devices that support the cards (which are largely Android-based). Last year, a feature was added to Android that allows users to tie their phones’ internal storage with that of a microSD card—and it’s been around long enough that most recent devices that have microSD slots support the feature...The App Performance Class 1 (or A1) standard, which was requested by mobile manufacturers, is designed to...set minimum standards for input and output speed for microSD cards... ...Full Story
North American Electric Reliability Corporation and IEEE Sign Agreement to Cooperate on Bulk Power System Analysis, Standards, Cyber Security Press Release NERC/IEEE November 29, 2016 - The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and IEEE recently entered an agreement to identify and launch joint initiatives on key issues, including coordination on bulk power system analysis, cyber security and the interface between NERC Reliability Standards and IEEE equipment standards....Challenges at the forefront of the industry such as system protection, power system modeling, inverter-based resources, technology integration and cyber security require close cooperation between NERC and IEEE on the jurisdictional authorities of both groups and the high reliability and security of the bulk power system....The memorandum of understanding identifies priorities for initial collaboration, including geomagnetic disturbance standards, synchrophasors, essential reliability services, voltage stability and frequency response.... ...Full Story
Review: The Doodlebug War - 5 Stard The Olso Times November 28, 2016 - The Doodlebug War is a thriller/political satire that focuses on a real-world cybersecurity vulnerability that is being ignored as we rely increasingly on the Internet. Like the two preceding books in the series, everything in the book is technically accurate and could actually happen....In The Doodlebug War, the vulnerability is the increasing movement of all government and private sector computing resources to huge data centers as the "cloud computing" business model becomes pervasive. The result is that not only all operating and application software is hosted in a limited number of geographic locations, but that all data is being hosted there as well. The data centers are concentrated in order to take advantage of lowest cost sources of electricity because of the enormous power demands and costs of running the centers.
The result is what may be termed "vulnerability by design," as virtually all data will soon be stored in above ground facilities that could be easily destroyed in the case of war.... ...Full Story
ICASI Transfers Development of Security Open Standard to OASIS Press Release ICASI.org November 28, 2016 - The Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet (ICASI) has announced it transferred further development and maintenance of its Common Vulnerability Reporting Framework (CVRF) Version 1.1 standard to the OASIS Common Security Advisory Framework (CSAF) Technical Committee, part of an international consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global information society. ICASI’s CVRF standard has been widely adopted by the major Internet backbone providers. Transferring ICASI’s CVRF standard to OASIS will encourage broader industry participation in the continued development of the standard while enhancing OASIS’s cybersecurity automation standards portfolio....ICASI took the lead in developing CVRF 1.0 as an open standard four years ago to provide an innovative solution to solve a critical security vulnerability communications problem. Based on a common XML-based framework, CVRF consolidates and brings consistency to vulnerability documentation. It provides the industry with faster and more consistent report creation processes. CVRF users benefit from the standard by being able to receive and process needed information more quickly and easily.... ...Full Story
Z-Wave Alliance Announces New Security Requirements for All Z-Wave Certified IoT Devices Press Release Z-Wave Alliance November 25, 2016 - The Z-Wave Alliance is...adding a security requirement to its long-standing interoperability certification. This is an important addition to its certification program that will require manufacturers to adopt the strongest levels of IoT security in the industry. The Alliance Board of Directors has voted to make the implementation of the new Security 2 (S2) framework mandatory for all products that are Z-Wave certified after April 2nd, 2017. The security measures in S2 provide the most advanced security for smart home devices and controllers, gateways and hubs in the market today.... ...Full Story
ITU releases annual global ICT data and ICT Development Index country rankings Press Release ITU.org November 24, 2016 - ITU’s flagship annual Measuring the Information Society Report, released today, reports that the world is getting more and more connected and reveals that there are still huge investment opportunities for the private sector to connect the unconnected....
The Measuring the Information Society Report is widely recognized as the repository of the world’s most reliable and impartial global data and analysis on the state of global ICT development and is extensively relied upon by governments, international organizations, development banks and private sector analysts and investors worldwide.
For full text see: ...Full Story
Trade Groups Adopt Plan to Better Shield Depositors, Investors From Cyberattacks Gabriel T. Rubin WSJ.com November 23, 2016 - The primary trade groups representing the financial services unveiled a plan to fortify their cybersecurity defenses by standardizing their data storage for retail accounts.
The plan, dubbed “Sheltered Harbor,” is intended to ensure depositors and investors that their accounts will be secure after a cyberattack. Financial institutions will store data that’s needed to recover an account in an industry-standard format so that client information can be restored at another location if the primary institution suffers an attack. The standards will go into effect in 2017....Sheltered Harbor is a project of the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center as well as its members, which include the primary industry groups and financial firms. FS-ISAC was initially set up by the industry to facilitate communication between firms about cybersecurity, which has generally been an area of collaboration, rather than competition, within the industry..... “We have to plan for everything.” ...Full Story
Media Source Extensions™ is a W3C Recommendation Press Release W3C.org November 23, 2016 - The HTML Media Extensions Working Group has published a W3C Recommendation for "Media Source Extensions™." This specification fulfills a vital part of putting video on the Web by extending the HTML5 video capabilities and facilitating a variety of use cases like adaptive streaming, time shifting and video editing, as well as 360° video players. Flexible and powerful, Media Source Extensions™ provides commercial quality IP streaming video for Web applications, across different platforms and between unrelated companies, and is already deployed in major browsers and video services, such as Youtube.... ...Full Story
The Linux Foundation Issues Free E-Book on Open Source License Compliance Best Practices Linux Foundation November 22, 2016 - The Linux Foundation today released a free e-book, Open Source Compliance in the Enterprise, that serves as a practical guide for organizations on how best to use open source code and participate in open source communities while complying with the spirit and the letter of open source licensing... the new e-book aims to improve understanding of issues related to the licensing, development, and reuse of open source software....The book’s nine chapters take readers through the entire process of open source compliance, including an introduction to the topic, a description of how to establish an open source management program at their organization, and an overview of relevant roles. Examples of best practices and compliance checklists are provided to help those responsible for compliance activities create their own processes and policies.... ...Full Story