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
“The need to adopt ODF is a no-brainer”
-Nico Westpalm van Hoorn, chairman of the Netherlands government body responsible for selecting IT standards for government
MIIT Vice Minister Huai Provides Overview of Big Data Strategy USITO.org November 25, 2015 - Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Vice Minister Huai Jinpeng participated in a discussion forum in Shenzhen on big data development, offering keynote remarks that were subsequently published on the MIIT website. In his remarks, vice minister Huai emphasized that data is one of China's strategic resources, a critical factor behind modern innovation and an engine of China's future social and economic development.
Huai then introduced the seven key objectives for China's big data industry development, as articulated in the Action Plan to Promote Big Data Development, which was published in early September 2015:
- Implement China's Big Data national strategy, starting with top-level leadership coordination
- Support key Big Data technology R&D and commercialization
- Integrate China's Big Data strategy into the Internet Plus and China Manufacturing 2025 strategic framework
- Promote the establishment of a Big Data standards system
- Encourage the application of Big Data technologies, including through the creation of special experimental or pilot areas
- Strengthen Big Data infrastructure development
- Improve the legal system governing Big Data ...Full Story
IEEE Introduces New Regulations to Standardize 3D Printing Software Used in Medical Settings Clare Scott 3DPrint.com November 24, 2015 - 3D printing is becoming a pretty player in the medical industry, with 3D printed prosthetics, surgical models, and implants being used with increasing regularity in hospitals, dental offices, and clinics. With new technology, of course, comes new regulation. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) has recently unveiled new interoperability standards for 3D printers and other electronic devices used in the medical field.... ...Full Story
IoT Groups Merge Efforts OIC taps UPnP, eschewing rival AllSeen Rick Merritt EETimes November 23, 2015 - The Open Interconnect Consortium will acquire assets of and combine its technologies with those of the Universal Plug and Play Forum, a fifteen-year old group focused on automating links between PCs and peripherals typically over Wi-Fi. By adopting the UPnP’s widely used service discovery software and likely many of its members, OIC will bolster its position as an applications-layer software stack for the Internet of Things.
All sides agree the IoT is encumbered with too many competing and overlapping platforms, networks, protocols and frameworks as the result of a land grab for what is seen as the next big thing.... ...Full Story
How open source can bring agencies to the cloud Gina Loften Federal Times November 23, 2015 - Cloud computing has fundamentally changed how the world works, innovates and connects .From businesses and governments to individuals, we are all finding ourselves interacting in new and meaningful ways .Yet, according to IDC, only 6 percent of federal government applications run in the cloud.
Open source could be the key in spurring more cloud adoption across federal agencies. Here are two examples:
- GSA’s internal digital consultancy, 18F, recently launched Cloud.gov, a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) built on the open source framework Cloud Foundry.
- The Department of the Interior recently relaunched DOI.gov using the open source software Drupal as a PaaS to create a better approach to managing website content.
With open source comes open standards and application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable the extensibility, interoperability and portability needed for federal agencies to meet higher expectations in launching new services quickly, adding infrastructure when needed and identifying new opportunities to engage citizens .The GSA and DOI examples represent a dramatic shift for the federal government as many agency innovators seek to employ agile methods and drive faster cloud adoption.
The open architecture that open source provides is critical for agencies to build, ship and run applications across the cloud .New applications can be spun up in seconds, dynamically changed, scaled and are portable across different cloud environments.... ...Full Story
ANSI Requests Comments on SAC’s “Association Standardization—Part 1: Guidelines for Good Practice” ANSI Weekly News November 20, 2015 - The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) requests stakeholder comments on the draft guidance document “Association Standardization-Part 1: Guidelines for Good Practice,” published by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC). The promotion of association standards is a key component of China’s plan for deepening standardization reform. ANSI members interested in contributing to ANSI’s submission should use the linked form and provide their comments to email@example.com no later than Wednesday, November 18.
Earlier in 2015, China’s State Council released a plan for deepening the reform of China’s standardization system....While association standards are a relatively new category of standards in China, the guidelines, which ANSI has been closely monitoring, will play an important role in shaping their growing influence under the reformed system.
ANSI will use the ANSI Essential Requirements and accreditation of U.S.-based standards developing organizations as the basis for its feedback and encourages members to submit their comments to ANSI for consideration while developing its submission. ANSI also encourages members to submit comments through their own organizations, or to send comments and feedback to ANSI for information, rather than inclusion in its submission.... ...Full Story
Home › Policy & Industry News Policy & Industry News MIIT Issues Cloud Standardization Guidelines USITO.org November 19, 2015 - The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the "Cloud Computing Comprehensive Standardization System Construction Guidelines," a detailed plan aimed at enhancing China's cloud computing development and standardization.
The Guidelines include a section that compares China's cloud technology development levels with foreign technology, as well as sections covering hardware, software, services, networks and security.
The Guidelines also identify four cloud areas in which China is aiming to develop a total of 29 cloud-related standards. The four areas are:
- Cloud foundation
- Cloud resources
- Cloud services
- Cloud security ...Full Story
Book Review: The Lafayette Campaign Dave Piscitello The Security Sceptic November 18, 2015 - ...The Lafayette Campaign is entertaining beyond how Frank discovers and ultimately thwarts election fraud. It's quite the maze of twisty turns passages. But Updegrove mercilessly lampoons primary campaigns and campaign funding, and given how the 2016 presidential campaign is proceeding, you may find yourself wondering just how closely art is imitating life here. Frank's investigation is technically credible yet plainly explained for Average Joes and Josettes. And Andrew's character development of Frank and the supporting cast continues to be refreshing. The good guys are people you'd like to meet in real life and the villains are manipulative, greedy bastards you'd like to avoid.
Andrew Updegrove has veered from the customary formula for a suspense novel but his formula is fun. I'm looking forward to future adventures with Frank Adversego. ...Full Story
What Happened to the Semantic Web? Kingsley Idehen Blogspot.cz November 18, 2015 - Over the last 15+ years, the same question about the Semantic Web has been posed innumerable times: "Are we there yet?"
In this post, I will demonstrate that as expected , its arrival was without fanfare, but we are inarguably there.
In recent times, major search engine vendors (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Yandex), in collaboration with the W3C and others, created a shared vocabulary referred to as schema.org . This contribution to the ongoing evolution of the Web was an effort to include islands of structured data, constructed to be comprehensible by both humans and machines, within HTML documents. Rather than taking a "bottom up" approach, Schema.org went "top down" from the outset, and Web Masters were their chosen target audience.
Schema.org doesn't mandate any specific notation for construction of these structured data islands, since it's basically an application of RDF's abstract language, and fundamentally represents structured data as subject->predicate->object sentences ("triples") or Entity-Attribute-Value (EAV) data structures.
By leveraging the fact that RDF Language is notation agnostic, structured data islands can be constructed and embedded within HTML documents using: "POSH" (Plain Old Semantic HTML), HTML5+Microdata, RDFa, JSON-LD, RDF-Turtle, and others. As a consequence, no perceived problem with any specific notation gives cause to indict the entire project, and there is likewise no need to go on a distracting quest for a single golden notation....The fundamental goal of the Semantic Web Project has already been achieved. Like the initial introduction of the Web, there wasn't an official release date — it just happened! ...Full Story
Radio spectrum allocated for global flight tracking Press Release ITU-T November 18, 2015 - Agreement has been reached at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva on the allocation of radiofrequency spectrum for global flight tracking in civil aviation.
The frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz has been allocated to the aeronautical mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for reception by space stations of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) emissions from aircraft transmitters.... ...Full Story