Embracing the technology that is reshaping our world

Innovative information technologies are an inextricable part of modern life

Billions of connected devices and systems make up the internet of things (IoT), and help to simplify how we communicate, work and go about daily tasks.

AI can be used in many areas such as smart factories, connected cars and healthcare (Photo: A Price)

Advances in digitization, including analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are redefining how businesses and industries work, from agriculture, and energy management, to healthcare, manufacturing and transport.

Predictive analytics, based on AI machine learning and algorithms, can improve business processes by enabling better decision–making and automating decisions, on demand, in order to meet business goals. In healthcare predictive analytics helps improve patient care, disease management and hospital administration.

When we ask the personal assistants in our devices to find the nearest Japanese restaurant, or read our emails to us, this is AI at work, in the form of voice recognition technology.

Standards go hand in hand with information technology

The scope of standardization activities in the IEC and ISO Joint Technical Committee for information technology (ISO/IEC JTC 1) continues to evolve and broaden with the technology trends.

Some areas covered include automatic identification and data capture techniques, biometrics, cloud computing and IT security techniques, cards and personal identification, coding of audio, picture and multimedia information, the internet of things and IT service management and governance.

New leadership

In January 2018, Phil Wennblom took over as the new JTC 1 Chair, bringing an in-depth knowledge and experience in IT standardization. He has served as Chair of INCITS – the US Technical Advisory Group, which mirrors the work of JTC 1, and is Senior Director of Standards Policy for Intel Corporation.

In an earlier interview, he highlighted key topics for 2018, including IoT: “Our IoT subcommittee is very active and is part of the foundation of IoT for other sectors, whether automotive, healthcare or even smart cities”.

On the subject of the growing application of AI in many industries, he said: “AI holds such promise for industry and society, but at the same time, some aspects of it concern people. It’s changing quickly and there’s so much innovation in this space. This means there’s an opportunity for voluntary standards to help set the norms that we all agree should apply to AI and its applications”

Regarding the constant need for cyber security in our connected world, to ensure all the devices and systems we use are safe and secure, Wennblom noted: “It would be hard to overstate the importance of cyber security. If an IoT device isn’t secure, and you don’t feel you can trust it, then it’s not very useful. For cars or medical devices, the threat of being hacked is a concern. That’s why cyber security and IT security need to be the underpinning of everything else.” See the full interview.

All eyes on AI

Industry recognizes standardization will be essential to the broad adoption of AI. Involving many stakeholders including research, academia, industry, practitioners, policy makers and ethics advocates, AI is expected to be one of the most crucial enabling technologies in our lifetime.

During its first year, the new Subcommittee for AI (JTC 1/ SC 42), which has been mandated to provide guidance to JTC 1, IEC, and ISO committees developing AI applications, began its busy work programme. This involves developing foundational standards, which will provide for a framework and common vocabulary.   

Connected products and services and critical infrastructure, such as power plants or manufacturing sites, must be kept safe and secure. A very important aspect of SC 42 work will cover trustworthiness and related areas from a system perspective, such as robustness, resiliency, reliability, accuracy, safety, security, and privacy must be considered from the get-go.

Another essential project is the development of a big data reference architecture. From a data science perspective, expert participation, use cases and applications, future anticipated work on analytics, and the role of systems integration (working with other ISO, IEC and JTC 1 committees on application areas), the big data work programme lines up well with the work of SC 42. From an industry practice point of view, it’s hard to imagine applications where one technology is present without the other.

“One of the unique things about what IEC and ISO are doing through SC 42 is that we are looking at the entire ecosystem and not just one technical aspect. Combined with the breadth of application areas covered in IEC and ISO technical committees (TCs), this will provide a comprehensive approach to AI standardization with IT and domain experts”, said Wael William Diab, Chair, JTC 1/ SC 42. Read the full interview with Diab.

Staying ahead of the trends

We use biometric data, such as a fingerprint, to access our smart phones, monitor aspects of our own health using wearables and shop online thanks to electronic tags, which contain product information and enable tracking from the warehouse to our doors.

Digitization is happening rapidly in industry, businesses and daily life and new technologies not only require standards, they also influence existing standards.

JTC 1 has established a permanent group on emerging technology and innovation (JETI). The group continually assesses opportunities for the evolving information and communications technology business needs, and proposes actions that JTC 1 should consider, for it to remain relevant. Some of the trend technologies it has identified include connected cars, digital twin, 4D printing and neuromorphic computing.