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
“Sometimes upholding constitutional ideas just isn't enough; sometimes you have to uphold the actual Constitution”
-Excerpt from the dedication of a new "dark email" protocol to the NSA by PGP developer Ladar Levison
NIST Requests Round Two Comments on its Cryptographic Standards Process NISO.org January 26, 2015 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking comments on a revised draft document that details the principles and processes it will follow to develop its cryptographic standards and guidelines. Comments will be collected through March 27, 2015.
This second draft of NIST IR7977: NIST Cryptographic Standards and Guidelines provides more detail and identifies new policies and procedures that were not in the draft released for a two-month comment period in February 2014. The updates reflect feedback received in the public comments and a July 2014 report by an independent review committee....
The revisions to the first draft include new principles to ensure the usability of standards and guidelines and to encourage innovation while protecting intellectual property. The second draft also details how NIST will ensure balance, transparency, openness and integrity in its development of cryptographic standards and guidelines, and poses several questions to reviewers.... ...Full Story
New Linux Foundation's guide to the open-source cloud Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols ZDNet.com January 26, 2015 - I make my living from riding technology's bleeding edge. In particular I keep an eye on what's what with Linux and open-source software, but even I have trouble keeping track of what's going on with the open-source cloud technologies. Which is why I'm happy to welcome The Linux Foundation's 2015 report: Guide to the Open Cloud: Open Cloud Projects Profiled, which will be released on January 20th.... ...Full Story
HITRUST Establishes Healthcare Security Working Group Tara Seals InfoSecurity January 23, 2015 - Be it hacked pacemakers, or compromised patient records, healthcare security is a terrifying field. The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) has now established a working group dedicated to the security of health information technology (HIT), including systems and medical devices.
The goal of the program is to avoid, report and mitigate vulnerabilities; today, there is not a standard means for recognizing and sharing flaws, nor are there standard processes for eliminating or mitigating them.... ...Full Story
Huge battery will help deliver clean electricity, PUD says Ian Terry Heraldnet.com January 23, 2015 - Snohomish County Public Utility District is getting ready to start using a massive battery that will make it easier for it to use clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar.The PUD's new energy storage system, which includes a battery as big as a shipping container, is at the head of an effort to bring open-source design and standards to the industry....Utility companies don't have cheap, efficient ways to store that excess energy for when people need it. Energy storage systems are expensive, and each vendor uses its own proprietary designs and standards. That means utilities have to buy the entire system, rather than assembling their own using components from different vendors.The PUD's new system, though, is made using existing technology and open design and standards. That makes it much easier for companies to enter the market by offering one piece, rather than having to offer a whole system,...last year, several utilities and companies joined to create the MESA Standards Alliance to develop open standards for utility-scale energy storage. Last fall, MESA and another industry group jointly released the first open-source specifications for a plug-and-play energy storage system.... ...Full Story
IoTivity Preps For IoT Standards Showdown Jeff Bertolucci InformationWeek January 22, 2015 - Without a seamless way for billions of devices to swap information, the Internet of Things may prove to be more Tower of Babel than the data-sharing utopia we’ve been led to believe. Various tech industry groups are working to build this much-needed framework for device-to-device connectivity across the IoT, yet no standard has emerged.
One contender is IoTivity, an open-source collaboration between the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), a group of 50-plus tech organizations led by Intel and Samsung, and the nonprofit Linux Foundation.
The OIC last week announced the preview release of the IoTivity code....The OIC hopes to complete the IoTivity standard within the first half of this year, and see IoT-compliant devices reach the market by the end of 2015.... ...Full Story
Intel’s OIC unveils the IoTivity standard for device discovery Stacey Higginbotham Giga.om January 21, 2015 - After launching last July with a press release and promises of taking on the problem of device-to-device communication and discovery, the Open Interconnect Consortium has launched the initial version of its internet of things certification and standard. Called IoTivity, the technology will act as a way for connected devices to share what they are and what they can do.
So any light bulb that runs the IoTivity code will be able to tell any television or washing machine running the IotTivity code that it is a light bulb and it can turn on and off, dim and perhaps change colors. Armed with this knowledge the washing machine might send notifications about loads being ready to go into the dryer to a bulb by forcing it to blink. The TV might use the IoTivity information to dim the lights when it turns on.
The plan is for IoTivity to sit between the radios such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and the higher level apps the device uses. It’s middleware that aims to make things run smoothly without a lot of user or programmer intervention.... ...Full Story
IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Introduces First Uniform Test Plan for Evaluating IEEE C37.118.1™ Conformance of Synchrophasors for Power Grid IEEE-SA January 18, 2015 - IEEE today announced the global availability of the industry’s first uniform test plan for evaluating the conformance of synchrophasors to IEEE C37.118.1™, IEEE Standard for Synchrophasor Measurements for Power Systems. Introduction of the IEEE Synchrophasor Measurement Test Suite Specification is another key step toward a comprehensive conformity assessment program for synchrophasors, which provide real-time measurement of electric power grids to help ensure stable operations and avert blackouts....
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) supported development of the IEEE Synchrophasor Measurement Test Suite Specification, toward the goal of encouraging market adoption of synchrophasor technologies supporting a highly resilient and reliable grid capable of accommodating higher penetration of renewable resources. A committee of volunteer technical experts from the power grid industry—representing manufacturers, utilities and academia—worked together through the IEEE-SA to write the test plan.... ...Full Story
Obama's Data Breach Proposals Get Associations Talking Ernie Smith NOW Associations January 16, 2015 - ...The president’s plan to tackle cybersecurity issues—expected to be one of his big initiatives in 2015—drew mixed responses from the association world this week. While retail and financial groups welcomed the proposals, a key privacy group questioned whether they focus on the right things....Associations had varying reactions to the proposals.
Financial groups are supportive....
Retail industry highlights information exchange....
Are incentives needed?... ...Full Story
Indexed Database API is a W3C Recommendation Press Release W3C.org January 16, 2015 - The Web Applications Working Group has published a W3C
Recommendation of "Indexed Database API." This document
defines APIs for a database of records holding simple values
and hierarchical objects. Each record consists of a key and
some value. Moreover, the database maintains indexes over
records it stores. An application developer directly uses an
API to locate records either by their key or by using an index.
A query language can be layered on this API. An indexed
database can be implemented using a persistent B-tree data
structure. Learn more about the Rich Web Client Activity. ...Full Story
Intel-backed OIC advances in fast-moving IoT standards race Stephen Lawson PC World January 15, 2015 - @sdlawsonmedia
Jan 14, 2015 3:10 PM
Internet of Things industry groups are in high gear, driving toward standards they hope will define how connected devices work together for years to come.
On Wednesday, an open-source project sponsored by the Open Interconnect Consortium released a preview of IoTivity, a software framework for implementing OIC’s emerging IoT standard. The move came just a week after the AllSeen Alliance introduced a new software framework of its own, which was designed for remote control of multiple AllJoyn-based devices....The OIC is developing its own standard for IoT connectivity but turned to the Linux Foundation to organize the project that is developing IoTivity. That project is open to anyone who wants to participate, whether they belong to OIC or not.
Vendors will use IoTivity as a reference implementation of the OIC standard. They can add their own components on top of it or build their own implementation of the OIC standard from scratch....IoTivity is one of the three main components of the OIC’s approach, the other two being the underlying standard and a product certification program. It’s important to have both a standard and reference implementation, Skarpness said: The standard provides a common foundation that ensures all OIC-compliant products can work together at some level, while IoTivity gives developers a place to start when implementing that standard....Having both [a reference implementation and a standard] sets OIC apart from AllSeen, which doesn’t have a standard, Skarpness said.... ...Full Story