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 Wednesday, March 19, 2008

“Increase productivity, save time and money while reducing your company’s carbon footprint”; this is the ambitious sales pitch for a new family of tools that promise to offer the 3Cs - communication, collaboration and coordination - without the requirement for physical travel. For ITU-T, whose basic mission is to encourage collaborative work among a global membership on the development and adoption of international standards, remote collaboration is a daily necessity.

A new report, the fifth in a series of ITU-T Technology Watch Briefing Reports, describes how Remote Collaboration Tools can facilitate collaboration with colleagues, and support businesses in overcoming the geographical limitations of everyday work. Remote collaboration tools can be used alongside, or integrated with, traditional office applications (such as e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets) or as an enabler of collaboration, communication and coordination. Using online meetings, collaboration that might not have occurred otherwise (as a consequence of tight schedules, long distances, or the high cost of business travel), may now take place.

For developing countries, remote collaboration tools can thus be seen as a helpful instrument in overcoming the digital divide and for “Bridging the Standardization Gap”, an ITU initiative to facilitate the participation of developing countries in the standards development process.

Furthermore, replacing long-distance travel by online meetings makes remote collaboration tools a clean, green technology, which is particularly important in the context of current global concerns over climate change. In 2007, ITU-T organized and provided logistical and secretariat support for some 85 meetings/workshops, representing a total of 339 meeting days, as well as numerous smaller informal meetings, such as rapporteur groups of steering committees. Holding even a small number of those meetings online would reduce travel and therefore have a significant impact on ITU-T’s carbon footprint.

Two upcoming ITU Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change (April 15-16 in Kyoto, Japan, co-organized and hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) and 17-18 June 2008 in London, supported and hosted by BT) will be available as a webinar in order that remote participants can see and hear presentations from wherever they are in the world. Provision will also be made for remote participants to submit comments and questions.

Download Technology Watch report on Remote Collaboration Tools

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 5:51:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The website for a new group to coordinate standardization activities on accessibility and human factors issues has gone live. The joint coordination activity on accessibility and human factors (JCA-AHF) is open to experts working in the field to improve access to the information society by people with varied capability of handling information and the controls for its presentation. Participation will be mainly by electronic means – to take part simply send a mail to tsbjcaahf@itu.int.

ITU has been active in accessibility and human factors for many years. Two of the best known standards are one relating to the designation of a “tactile identifier” - the number five on a telephone keypad - for easy identification for those with impaired sight (ITU-T Recommendation E.161) and a standard for text telephony (ITU-T Recommendation V.18). Recently accessibility guidelines have been drawn up to ensure that new standards are developed with the needs of those with disabilities taken into account (see previous newslog entry here).

JCA-AHF has organized a tutorial session on web design, web conferencing and real time web captioning to improve current ITU practices. It will be held in Geneva on 22 April. Details will follow.

For more detail on ITU-T’s work on accessibility see here.

Another ITU initiative related to the topic is the Dynamic Coalition on Accessibility and Disability which has been created under the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). See here. More details will follow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008 5:55:18 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, March 11, 2008

When you enter a modern office building, such as ITU-T’s office in Geneva, it is quite common for the glass doors to open automatically and for lights to come on as you enter a darkened room. This “magic” is achieved by motion sensors. But entering a building in the future, you might be welcomed by name with a personal greeting and given security access suitable to your status (e.g., employee, delegate, newcomer). To do this without human intervention would require not only intelligent sensors but also perhaps ID tags and readers and interaction with a database.

In a new Technology Watch briefing report from ITU-T, the term “Ubiquitous Sensor Networks” (USN) is used to describe networks of intelligent sensor nodes that could be deployed “anywhere, anytime, by anyone and anything”. The technology has huge potential as it could generate applications in a wide range of civilian and military fields, including ensuring safety and security, environment and habitat monitoring, real-time healthcare, landmine detection and intelligent transport systems (ITS).

Sensor nodes may vary enormously in size, cost and complexity. Their characteristics are highly application-specific. Depending on the sensor type, the links between sensors may be provided by either wired or wireless communication. Energy-efficient operation is an important requirement for scenarios where sensor nodes are deployed in hazardous or inaccessible environments.

The variability of USN poses a challenge to researchers and a number of different standards development organizations (SDOs) are already engaged int this field. Within ITU-T, USN standardization is being carried out under the auspices of the Next-Generation Network Global Standards Initiative (NGN-GSI). The new report, the fourth in a series of ITU-T Technology Watch Briefing Reports, describes the different components of USN, notes the standardization work currently going on in ITU-T, and gives an overview of the different fields of applications of USN in both, developed and developing countries.

Download Technology Watch report on Ubiquitous Sensor Networks

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 10:28:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, March 07, 2008

Max Mosley, the head of Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, calls for accelerated standards development to support ICTs in vehicles for improvements in safety, and the mitigation and monitoring of climate change. Speaking at ITU’s annual Fully Networked Car event at the Geneva Motor Show, Mosley said that the leading edge expertise within F1 to develop “green” technologies could have applications beyond the sport, particularly in the area of fuel efficiency and monitoring of environmental impact. Most F1 teams have as many as 300 channels of information flowing between the cars and the pit crew and as the complexity of systems grow their interconnection will become critical he said.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General, reminded participants that the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has called climate change the “moral challenge of our generation”. He said: “With the Fully Networked Car we can provide traffic management, monitoring, and analysis, all of which will help meet the climate change challenge. Those who successfully meet this challenge will end up with a real competitive advantage in world markets.”

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The new 2008 Honda Racing F1 “Earthdreams” car with Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General; Max Mosley, President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and Malcolm Johnson, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU.

Michel Mayer, CEO Freescale Semiconductor, a leading supplier of ICTs to F1 and one of the sponsors of the event, expressed concerns at the proliferation of proprietary standards and called for global standards bodies such as ITU to take a lead. He said that it is critical that further development be standards-driven.

The event also featured a keynote presentation from David Butler, Marketing Director, Honda Racing F1 Team, who emphasised how the powerful brand platform of F1 can present a global environmental message. The Fully Networked Car event had as its centrepiece the new 2008 Honda Racing F1 “Earthdreams” car.

A particular concern, according to experts, is in the areas of telematics and the application of intelligent transport systems (ITS) which participants at the Fully Networked Car agreed offer the best solution for a reduced carbon footprint from the global use of vehicles.

ITU will help to push this standards work and convergence between the ICT and automotive industries with initiatives such as its FITCAR (From/In/To Cars Communication) Focus Group, and the hosting of the Advisory Panel for Standards Cooperation on Telecommunications related to Motor Vehicles (ASPC TELEMOV). Also helping to step up this activity, Malcolm Johnson, ITU’s director of standards, announced that the Fully Networked Car event – already in its fourth year - will now become a regular fixture bringing together the two industries. The 2009 event is planned for 4-6 March. ITU will also be organising two ITU symposia on ICTs and Climate Change: in Kyoto, 15-16 April, hosted by the government of Japan; and in London, 17-18 June, hosted by BT.

Priorities identified for future standardization included: a common set of standards for the full range of nomadic devices; standards for software defined radios; standards to cope with the gap between the short lifecycle of mobile phones compared to the relatively long lifecycle of cars; and privacy, where there is a need for a common understanding about what data is reasonable to collect and retain.

The Fully Networked Car event brought together over 200 experts from the ICT and automotive worlds. It was organised by ITU with the support of ISO and IEC under the World Standards Cooperation (WSC) banner.

Enquiries to: Toby Johnson, +41 79 249 4868 or toby.johnson@itu.int.

More photos on Flickr












Friday, March 07, 2008 4:25:47 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, February 28, 2008

ITU experts have reported a good spirit of cooperation following a meeting with counterparts from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) on the topic of T-MPLS, during February’s Study Group 15 meeting in Geneva.

The Ad-Hoc Group on T-MPLS met to iron out perceived inconsistencies between MPLS developed by IETF and T-MPLS developed in ITU-T. The meeting appointed Malcolm Betts as ITU representative and Dave Ward from IETF.

A joint working team (JWT) has been created with experts from ITU-T and IETF.

Previously the IETF requested that the ITU-T either: (1) Work in cooperation to extend the IETF's MPLS technologies through the IETF Standards Process or: (2) Decide to use its own Ethertypes and maintain separation of codepoints in the future, change the name of the technology so it is not easily confused with IETF MPLS and work independently.

The JWT will allow the IETF and ITU-T to work in close collaboration on T-MPLS to understand the implications of these options and facilitate the subsequent development of solutions that ensure that the required degree of MPLS/T-MPLS compatibility, consistency, and coherence, recognizing that the sole design authority for MPLS resides in the IETF, and the domain of expertise for Transport Network Infrastructure resides in ITU-T SG15.

It is expected that the group will use remote collaboration tools and make a decision on which way to progress by April 2008. See also previous newslog entry here.

MPLS is widely embraced in backbone networks as a way to speed up routers. Lately some have advocated its use further downstream in access networks, there have even been suggestions to extend this as far as customer premises. ITU’s work seeks to support this, but additionally to allow the seamless interworking between Ethernet and MPLS. This has been progressed in SG 15 through the completion of a new set of Recommendations for Transport MPLS (T-MPLS), a technology which uses a subset of the components defined in the MPLS Layer Network Architecture of Recommendation G.8110 to support packet transport applications that adhere to ITU-T layer network architecture principles. A T-MPLS layer network can operate independently of its clients and its associated control networks (i.e., multi-carrier or single carrier networks (MCN, SCN) and can carry a variety of client traffic types. This independence affords network operators the freedom necessary to design robust packet transport networks for their own use and to transport customer traffic. T-MPLS is designed to behave consistently with existing transport technologies, thus offering the operational characteristics, performance and reliability that network operators require from carrier-class technologies. The new Recommendations for this technology cover the T-MPLS layer network architecture (G.8110.1/Y.1370.1), interfaces for the T-MPLS Hierarchy (G.8112/Y.1371), and T-MPLS Equipment (G.8121/Y.1381).

Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:53:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |