30 years of Standards for cutting-edge technology

ISO/IEC JTC 1 to broaden its remit

Information technology doesn’t stand still and neither does the IEC and ISO joint technical committee, ISO/IEC JTC 1, established in 1987 to cover these technologies. This year, as ISO/IEC JTC 1 celebrates its 30-year anniversary, experts from 33 countries continue to contribute to the standardization activities of its 22 subcommittees (SCs), which have already produced more than 3 000 International Standards.

JTC 1 Plenary, Vladivostok, Russia
ISO/IEC JTC 1 plenary meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, during the 2017 IEC General Meeting

A new Chair

During the 81st IEC General Meeting in Vladivostok, Russia, ISO/IEC JTC 1 held its 32nd annual plenary. The meeting offered the perfect opportunity to thank Karen Higginbottom for her nine years of service as Chair. During this time, she led the organization very effectively through the continuous evolution of information technology, which requires standardization.

The plenary endorsed her successor, Phil Wennblom (US), who will take up his role as Chair for an initial three-year term. Wennblom brings in-depth knowledge and experience of IT standardization. He has served as Chair of INCITS – the US Technical Advisory Group, which mirrors the work of ISO/IEC JTC 1.

Another Emmy

The work of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29: Coding of audio, picture and multimedia information, was recognized during the 69th Engineering Emmy Awards this October.

With 576 International Standards already published and used worldwide for creating and viewing digital pictures and videos, this time the subcommittee received the Emmy for standardization work on high efficiency video coding (HEVC). This new compression coding technique improves the delivery of ultra-high definition (UHD) content over multiple distribution channels.

In 2009, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29 was awarded an Emmy for MPEG-4 AVC and in 1996 for MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 compression coding associated with, respectively, still photography, video CD and MP3, and digital TV set top boxes and DVD.

A busy work programme

Experts discussed developments for new work programmes across many aspects of the IT standardization landscape.

Over the last three decades, ISO/IEC JTC 1 has greatly expanded its repertoire, which began with topics, such as coded character sets and telecommunications and information exchange between systems.

Today, it comprises 22 subcommittees, which specialize in standardization activities for everything from automatic identification and data capture techniques, biometrics, cloud computing and IT security techniques, to cards and personal identification, coding of audio, picture and multimedia information. It recently added a subcommittee dedicated to the internet of things (IoT) and related technologies, and there is more to follow.

Latest hot topics

Artificial intelligence

More than ever, artificial intelligence (AI) is all around us. Virtual personal assistants, which use voice recognition like Siri or Alexa, answer our questions; we receive shopping coupon items based on previous purchases we made; and often read how smart cars will eventually be able to drive without humans. Our homes are full of smart devices and systems which automatically do things for us, such as adjust room temperatures when we are home and lower them when we aren’t to save money.

These are just a few examples of AI in our daily lives. The technology uses analytics algorithms, which allow machines to learn intelligent (human-like) behaviour from the huge amounts of data they gather.

ISO/IEC JTC 1 to establish AI subcommittee

As AI is incorporated into more systems and products, it will require a common basis and harmonization, to ensure it is interoperable, reliable and functions as expected for anyone developing this technology anywhere in the world.

Against this background, the ISO/IEC JTC 1 plenary decided to establish a new AI subcommittee. The Standards it will eventually produce will consider aspects such as terminology, reference architecture, security, fuzzy logic, machine learning and risk mitigation. It will work closely with the IoT subcommittee to adopt a systems integration approach for the development and management of their respective work programmes.

New Working Group for 3D printing and scanning

Following the conclusion of a year-long study by ISO/IEC JTC 1 into state-of-the-art 3D printing and scanning technologies, a working group (WG) will be set up to focus on the ISO/IEC JTC 1 standardization programme for this technology.  The WG will develop ICT-related foundational Standards and identify gaps and opportunities. It will also work with other ISO and IEC committees, and collaborate actively with external organizations.

Future areas of interest

As always, ISO/IEC JTC 1 is busy following IT developments and looking for the next big technology trends, which will need and greatly benefit from standardization. Currently, it is evaluating opportunities for new work in the areas of augmented reality and edge computing.