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 Monday, October 08, 2007

The government of Rwanda generously hosted ITU’s first ever global Forum on Bridging the ICT standardization and development gap between developed and developing countries, in Kigali, Rwanda, 2-4 October. Participants welcomed the recent establishment of a special fund for voluntary contributions from world governments and industry to address the issue.

The ICT standardization gap refers to the shortage of human resources in developing countries, relative to developed ones, in terms of being able to participate effectively in the standards-making and implementation process. Standards are an essential tool in bridging the digital divide, in reducing costs, and bringing vital aid to developing countries in building their infrastructure and encouraging economic development.

Over 160 participants from 38 countries took part in the meeting, with several countries being represented at government Minister or company CEO level. The conclusions of the Forum, outlining the importance of addressing the standardization gap, will be provided as input to the upcoming Connect Africa summit to be held in Kigali, 29-30 October.

The Forum was formally opened by H.E. Albert Butare, Minister of State in charge of Energy and Communications. He drew attention to the country’s National Information and Communications Infrastructure (NICI) Plan where the aim is to focus on the benefits of ICTs for national development and prosperity so that by 2020 Rwanda will have achieved middle-income status as a knowledge-based economy. The Minister welcomed the support being given by ITU and the international community in helping Rwanda to achieve its goals.

Mr. Malcolm Johnson, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, speaking in Kigali at the opening of the Forum, said: “The significance of the standardization gap is that it contributes to the persistence of the wider digital divide in ICTs. That is because one of the underlying causes of the digital divide is unequal access to technology and the ability to implement and use that technology. The process of technology transfer and implementation will happen much faster when African engineers can participate in standards development, particularly at the requirements-gathering stage, and are familiar with the relevant standards.”

Meeting participants agreed that a sustained commitment to raising standards awareness and to capacity-building is of particular importance and the meeting called on the ITU to step up its efforts, welcoming ITU’s organisation of a Global Standardization Symposium to address the issue. This will be held on 20 October 2008 just ahead of the next World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-08), planned for South Africa.

A chairman’s report from the Forum is available online as well as a full set of presentations: here.

Monday, October 08, 2007 12:56:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, October 05, 2007

ITU is holding a workshop - Making accessibility a reality in emerging technologies - at the second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Rio de Janeiro, 13 November, 1430-1600.

ITU’s standardization arm - ITU-T - has a long history of providing standards in the field of accessibility. It started in the early 90's with the international text telephone standard, ITU-T Recommendation V.18, which ties together text telephone protocols allowing different textphone types to communicate.

ITU-T’s accessibility experts have helped to incorporate accessibility needs into standards for multimedia, network interoperability, multimedia service descriptions and multimedia conferencing.

The latest work has focused on taking accessibility needs into account in the development of all standards. For this reason an ‘Accessibility Checklist’ has been created for the makers of standards to ensure that they are taking into account the needs of those to whom accessibility to ICTs are restricted, the deaf or hard-of-hearing for example. Experts say that such a list will help to ensure that accessibility needs are taken into account at an early stage, rather than ‘retrofitted’.

An area of current intensive standardization activity is that on the next generation network (NGN). Accessibility features have been included at the first stage of standards work where requirements are defined. However it is important that these needs are taken into account as work progresses.

This workshop, organized by ITU, as part of the Internet Governance Forum brings together experts from around the world to examine how best to take into account accessibility needs in emerging technologies.

Further information here (ITU page) here (IGF page).

Friday, October 05, 2007 3:10:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October to pay tribute to the efforts of thousands of experts worldwide who collaborate within IEC, ISO and ITU to develop voluntary International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances.

International Standards help citizens to exercise their rights and to meet their obligations within the Global Village. This link between standards and global citizenship is the theme of this year's World Standards Day message, “Standards and the citizen: Contributing to society”. The message is signed by the leaders of the three principal international standardization organizations: Mr. Renzo Tani, President of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Mr. Håkan Murby, President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The three leaders point out that standards solve problems in all spheres of activity and give the following examples: “A world without standards would soon grind to a halt. Transport and trade would seize up. The Internet would simply not function. Hundreds of thousands of systems dependent on information and communication technologies would falter or fail — from government and banking to healthcare and air traffic control, emergency services, disaster relief and even international diplomacy.”

International Standards are ubiquitous in the modern world, making many everyday tasks easier and safer. The heads of the three standardization organizations point out that even the simple act of reading the World Standards Day message on a computer screen depends on hundreds of standards that allow the computer to function, provide access to Internet, or simplify the printing and distribution of hard copies through standardized paper sizes.

The leaders of IEC, ISO and ITU underline how much standards underpin our daily lives: "Without standards, consider how difficult — or even dangerous — it would be to carry out ordinary, daily tasks. Safety standards for machinery protect us at work and at play. At home, standards keep electrical appliances connected to the national grid and keep our refrigerators and air conditioners compliant with environmental safeguards to prevent global warming. Our audio systems, television sets and DVD players, mobile phones and WiFi all comply with standards to make them compatible with other systems. From mobile videos and music to online education, telemedicine, e-banking and satellite navigation systems for our cars and aircraft — where would we be without standards in an increasingly networked world?"

Through their work in developing standards, IEC, ISO and ITU help to open up markets, promote environmental protection, safety, security, health and access to information, and to break down barriers between rich and poor nations. Their standards also foster technological innovation, healthy commerce and fair prices.

The leaders of the three organizations conclude their message, "As we move into the future, the work of IEC, ISO and ITU will continue to facilitate the development and diffusion of new technologies that will drive the world economy, contributing to the well being of all of the world’s inhabitants."

Friday, October 05, 2007 8:59:25 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, October 04, 2007

Working Party 2/17 Meeting - Security, languages and telecommunication software

Geneva 10 - 14 December 2007

Registration Form

See TSB Collective-letter 8/17 for more information.

Study Group 17 Home

Thursday, October 04, 2007 5:04:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, October 01, 2007

A call for abstracts has been issued for ITU, ISO and IEC’s now regular event focusing on information and communication technologies (ICT) in motor vehicles.

For the third year running The Fully Networked Car is being organized by ITU, ISO and IEC, working together as the World Standards Cooperation (WSC). Taking place at one of the world’s leading automotive events, the Geneva International Motor Show, the event will comprise a workshop with demonstrations and will take place between 5 and 7 March 2008.

Authors wishing to present papers should submit a half-page abstract, including the title of the paper and the author’s full name, short biography, address, telephone and e-mail, to tsbcar@itu.int by Friday, 16 November 2007. A new topic area for 2008 is ICT and the environment, suggestions for other topics can be found on the event's webpage.

This year’s event will feature a keynote speech from Max Mosley, president of the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) which is also the organizer of the Formula One World Championship).

Monday, October 01, 2007 11:13:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 27, 2007

A group of young African researchers presented their project MalariaControl during the Global Forum on Youth and ICT for Development (Geneva 24-26 September 2007), co-hosted by the Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) and ITU.

MalariaControl, is a partnership comprising the Swiss Tropical Institute, the University of Geneva, the European Organization for Nuclear Research and the NGOs International Conference Volunteers and Informaticiens sans Frontières. Using Volunteer Computing (VC) it develops simulation models of transmission dynamics and health effects of malaria. The models represent an important tool for malaria control - optimal strategies for new vaccines or chemotherapy can be determined.

VC is used because the simulation of the full range of transmission patterns relevant for malaria control is complex and extremely computer intensive. The approach was popularised in 1999 with the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence: SETI@home.

The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) plays a key role in reaching Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were agreed at the Millennium Summit (New York, 6-8 September 2000), where 192 United Nations Member States and all the world’s leading development institutions agreed to try to achieve the - eight - goals by the target date of 2015. The goals range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.

In VC, a type of distributed computing, software clients installed on privately owned computers around the world perform calculations to progress in complex research fields. Home computers are idle most of the time. Owners donate their computer's idle CPU time, memory and network connection for distributed research. VC contains aspects of Grid Computing, see the three point checklist by scientist Ian Foster (PDF).

The open-source software client for VC, called BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing), can be downloaded for various computer platforms.

VC has also been discussed as a tool to carry out research on environmental phenomena and disaster prevention.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 10:30:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |