Standards development organizations play key role in enabling remote daily life

There has never been a more critical time in which the planet has needed information and communication technologies.

Working from home
Photo: StockSnap on Pixabay

As the COVID-19 global pandemic forces the world into isolation, we realize more than ever how information and communication technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), and automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) techniques are making it possible to work, study, monitor health, and shop for essentials remotely.

IEC and ISO develop international standards covering these technology areas through their joint technical committee (ISO/IEC JTC 1) for information technologies. JTC 1 continues to address industry needs by following latest technology trends, to see where new standards could be required.

e-tech spoke with Brian McAuliffe, JTC 1 Liaison Officer to the European Commission, to find out more about his role and how standards development organizations (SDOs) work together in the field of ICT.

Tell us about your role as liaison?

As digitalization becomes increasingly core to European Commission (EC) policy priorities, and standards that enable digitalization are critical to successful implementation of such policies, it is paramount that, where possible, international standards are leveraged, or at least considered.

My role as liaison is to enhance the relationship between JTC 1 and the EC, so that JTC 1 standardization deliverables remain prominent in terms of standardization as an instrument for underpinning EU policy priorities.

How does the liaison work?

There are two main ways for me to further the relationship JTC 1 has with the EC.

EC Category A Liaison

The primary means through which we can further the goal of, where possible, harmonization between European Union (EU) and international standardization is by fostering an active relationship via the EC-JTC 1 Category A liaison.

On the EC side, this relationship is managed by the standardization unit in DG GROW, the Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. To date we have created direct liaisons between JTC 1 subcommittee chairs and working group convenors and EU policy officers for AI, IoT, open source, data management, smart cities, securities and privacy, cloud and data centres. Some new areas being considered are home automation, IT governance and 3D printing/additive manufacturing. This results in sharing of work programmes and draft standards with the EC policy officers, and, in the other direction, socialization of EC policy priorities within JTC 1. Where possible, EC policy officers will attend JTC 1 meetings, which greatly helps with building the relationship.

This is something which will continue to evolve over time as we see more innovative technologies being used in our daily lives and new standards being developed to support their adoption.

EU Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP)

The second way is through ISO, which is a member of the EU MSP. One of the functions of the EU Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) is to produce the annual ‘Rolling Plan for ICT Standardization’ which identifies ICT standardization developments that can support EU policy initiatives. Contributors to the MSP include international SDOs, European Standards Organizations, consortia, societal stakeholders and industry associations. As EC Liaison Officer for JTC 1, I have been appointed by ISO to represent it at the MSP. This enables me to ensure relevant JTC 1 work is included and we update this annually.

As the EC works towards achieving a digital single market, in the Rolling Plan it requests SDOs to, for example:

  • compliment ongoing gap analysis in wireless technology required by IoT, including certain technologies for industrial automation
  • continue ongoing work in semantic standards for better data interoperability
  • provide standards for use for compliance for IoT products, systems, applications and processes
  • develop a European standard for cyber security compliance of products, which is aligned with the current framework of ISO/IEC 27000 and GDPR
  • promote the development and adoption of the international reference architecture for IoT developed by ISO/IEC JTC 1/ SC 41, which covers IoT and related technologies

Much of what JTC 1 does is relevant. For the 2020 Rolling Plan, we submitted contributions on our work in the areas of cyber security, cloud computing, IT service management and IT governance, IoT, AI, smart cities and 3D printing and scanning.

Another key area we will be looking into for submission to the 2021 Rolling Plan is on standards supporting education technologies. Many innovative technologies and applications are being used in schools, universities and other education institutions. As such, there is a growing need to ensure IT harmonization and interoperability as well as other aspects, for instance security, privacy and accessibility.