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 Friday, April 16, 2010

The United Nations magazine "UN Special" ran two articles in its April 2010 issue on the recent ITU/WIPO workshop on how to improve the accessibility on the web.

http://www.unspecial.org/UNS694/t33.html

http://www.unspecial.org/UNS694/t41.html

See also the ITU-T Newslog report here.

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Friday, April 16, 2010 1:42:38 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, March 29, 2010
The http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/worksem/ict-auto/201003/*1 concluded in Geneva, March 4 with participants calling for better cross-sector standards collaboration in order to facilitate the rollout of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS).

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau: “There is a will from manufacturers to implement these technologies but thus far no real breakthrough in terms of standards needed to roll this out on a global scale. Global car manufacturers don’t want to create different versions of this technology for every different market. They don’t want regional or national standards, they want global standards and ITU and its World Standards Cooperation (WSC) partners ISO and IEC are willing and able to provide these for this global partnership.”

New services and applications may be the selling points that will win car makers an advantage in the depressed market. “Today's communication capabilities give cars the potential to foresee and avoid collisions, navigate the quickest route to their destination, make use of up-to-the-minute traffic reports, identify the nearest available parking slot, alert the emergency services, monitor air pollution, minimize carbon emissions, and provide multimedia communications,” said Johnson.

The involvement  of ITU, ISO and IEC is seen as critical to ease bottlenecks resulting – in part – from poor communication between overlapping sectors; automotive, ITS players,  telecoms suppliers and operators. One conclusion of an Executive Session was that competition between standards bodies was unwelcome.

A large amount of resources has been invested in research and development, but harmonization of the many standards that exist at a proprietary or regional level is missing. This lack of global standards is considered to be an impediment  to a large scale deployment of ITS services and applications. While most agree that the technologies are at an advanced stage of development, participants agreed that clearer views are needed on what standardization work is being done and where; user, regulator and supplier liability and privacy concerns; business and payment models; interoperability requirements and who owns them.

This – the fifth - Fully Networked Car workshop organized by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), a partnership between ISO, IEC and ITU, was held on 3-4 March at the Geneva International Motor Show 2010 and focused on the latest developments in ITS technology including network requirements for electric cars. It represented a unique  opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) key players, in particular with the motor industry.

Held during the 2nd Press Day and the first public day of the motor show, the event – attracting over 120 participants in 2010 - represents a matchless opportunity for experts and executives from the car industry, ICT community, governments, research and development institutes, academia to share their vision and strategies.

Speakers at a special Executive Session at the Fully Networked Car event included Christoph Huss, Vice President of BMW and President of the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA), who gave the keynote address; Juhani Jääskeläinen, European Commission; Raymond Resendes, Chief, Intelligent Technologies Research Division, United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Samuel Loyson, Orange, France; David Schutt, SAE International, USA; Yasuro Nakanomori, OKI, Japan; Russ Shields, Chairman, Ygomi and Reinhard Scholl, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau.

In his opening remarks, Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General, on behalf of WSC, said: "There is the need for standardization of essential technologies to provide the solid base for further innovation and the economies of scale for commercialization of technologies... Most interestingly of all, is the urgent need to consider the interoperability of all of this technology not only in the car, but in the wider infrastructure that is needed to support this revolution".

Information obtained from electronic devices as part of an in-vehicle network is critical to ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) services and applications, including emergency telecommunications. Currently, the way of extracting the vehicle information differs by manufacture, model and chassis type. Standards are being researched in the support of a Vehicle Gateway that will allow all consumer devices to work in harmony in all vehicles and with all infrastructures. Work on this in ITU is focused on a ‘Question’ within ITU-T’s Study Group 16. Contributions from ITU’s membership are being sought on a Vehicle Gateway platform for telecommunication/ITS services/applications.

Since ITS applications will have to rely mainly on existing infrastructure, NGN (Next Generation Networks) will play a key role for their deployment. This is currently considered in the framework of fix-mobile-convergence in ITU-T Study Group 13, ITU-T’s lead group lead on future networks. One of the sessions of the workshop recommended that a joint ISO / ITU-T group on in-vehicle architecture and protocols take the work forward.

Participants in one technical session at the workshop concluded that quality and naturalness of all speech services need to be increased to reduce driver distraction and seamless interaction. Agreement was reached that work on a standards-based framework for dialogue between user and device is needed, with the ITU-T Focus Group on Car Communications (ITU-T FG CarCOM) identified as the appropriate place for this work.

An electric future

Today, with the increasing deployment of electric vehicles, ICTs have a significant role to play in areas such as the careful management of battery status, warranty concerns and driver behaviour. Given the potential of these new technologies for both the automotive and the ICTs industries, it is essential for the different parties to understand the requirements for fully networked cars and agree on the solutions to be provided by the network platforms. In many cases existing telecoms infrastructure can be used.

As electric vehicles begin to find their way to our driveways and garages, knowing what is involved in charging their batteries becomes crucial. The development of smart power grids will also be vital to support the adoption of electric cars which according to some proposals can also act as storage capacity for electricity. The scale of this challenge was highlighted in one of the presentations to the workshop, citing work under way in the United States.

In the US, the electric grid is owned and operated by over 3100 utilities, using equipment and systems provided by thousands of suppliers, delivering power to hundreds of millions of users and billions of end devices. The transformation of this infrastructure into an “energy Internet” is a huge undertaking requiring an unprecedented level of cooperation and coordination across the private and public sectors as well as across industry sectors. A robust, interoperable framework of technical standards is the key to making this possible.

ITU is responding to this challenge by the formation of a new ITU-T Focus Group that will help develop the necessary global standards to hasten this move to Smart Grids. The newly formed group will look at the networking between use of current control, metering, charging and electricity distribution systems.
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1 New title for the event following agreement of Geneva Motor Show to support the event for next three years

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Monday, March 29, 2010 8:51:15 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, March 19, 2010

ITU members are being asked to comment on the formation of two new groups examining standards for smart grid and cloud computing.

The proposed Focus Group on Smart Grid and Focus Group on Cloud Computing are expected to identify standardization requirements that will then be taken forward by relevant ITU-T Study Groups.

ITU was asked by key CTOs to accelerate work in the area of smart grid and cloud at a meeting of high level industry executives in Geneva, October 2009.

Smart grid may use technologies based on current telecommunication technologies for control, metering, charging etc. It is this link and the standards needs here that is expected to be explored. In addition the idea that smart grid principles could apply to the telecommunication system itself could be a topic for discussion.

A recently published ITU-T Technology Watch Report titled “Distributed Computing: Utilities, Grids and Clouds” describes the advent of clouds and grids, the applications they enable, and their potential impact on future standardization.

The Focus Group is expected to investigate the relevant requirements for standardization on cloud computing and suggest future study paths for ITU-T. Specifically it may identify potential impacts in standards development in other fields such as NGN, transport layer technologies, ICTs and climate change and media coding.

Comments on the draft terms of reference are invited before Wednesday 14 April 2010. They are available here.

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Friday, March 19, 2010 11:08:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, March 16, 2010
TSB, ITU-T’s secretariat has published an online calendar of ICT events.

The calendar is a resource for all visitors to the website and aims to track ICT events around the world which may be of interest to ITU members and others.

New events should be sent to tsbpromo@itu.int.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010 7:03:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Strong commitment to leveraging the potential of the web and advanced communication tools to empower persons with disabilities

Geneva, 15 February 2010 — ITU has again demonstrated its commitment to improving access to the information society for all, through a joint workshop aimed at promoting awareness of the importance of taking accessibility principles into account when developing websites within the UN system.

In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which obliges its signatories to provide public information in formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities. Universal Design principles which make new technologies accessible for persons with disabilities are now becoming more of an imperative, with the wide adoption of the Convention.

Organized jointly with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and held from February 2-5, the workshop was designed to help UN technical staff engaged in web design better meet the needs of disabled users.

Speaking at the opening session, Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, highlighted the potential of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve access to information for persons with disabilities, noting that ITU has been "embracing the challenges of accessibility through standardization efforts, and has long championed the principles of inclusion and Universal Design enshrined in the UN Convention." Johnson also stressed that ITU practices what it preaches, and is working hard to make itself more accessible to the disabled.

WIPO Director General, Francis Gurry, underlined the general importance of accessibility and reaffirmed WIPO’s commitment to establishing a web environment that promotes easy access to intellectual property information. This, Gurry said, is in line with WIPO’s visually impaired persons (VIP) initiative, launched in 2008, which is exploring ways to facilitate and enhance access to literary, artistic and scientific works. He noted that only five per cent of all published works are currently available in formats accessible to the VIP community. A first web accessibility workshop was hosted by WIPO in May 2009, following a request from the VIP community.

This year’s workshop brought together leading experts in the field of accessibility from around the world, including the World Wide Web consortium, the Mobile Web Initiative, Yahoo!, Adobe Systems, and the Royal National Institute for Blind People. It also featured a full day of training sponsored by Adobe.

In the field of accessibility, ITU focuses on strategic issues ranging from the rights of the disabled, to ensuring that new ICT technical standards incorporate accessibility principles, to providing education and training on accessible ICTs. An estimated 650 million people live with disabilities worldwide.

This year’s participants agreed on the need for an annual workshop to keep abreast of technological developments and to share knowledge and experience within the UN system. "There is no better place to demonstrate our accessibility than the online resources that act as our window to the world. This is why this workshop has been so important," concluded ITU’s Johnson.

For further information please contact:

Sarah Parkes                                                                          
Senior Media Relations Officer
ITU
Tel: +41 22 730 6135
Mobile: +41 79 599 1439
E-mail: mailto: pressinfo@itu.int                                                                              

Toby Johnson
Senior Communications Officer
ITU
Tel: +41 22 730 5877
Mobile: +41 79 249 4868
E-mail: mailto: toby.johnson@itu.int

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:04:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ICTs and the green city of the future is the title of an ITU Workshop that will be held during the Shanghai World Expo 2010. The theme of the Shanghai World Expo 2010 is: "Better City, Better Life". The Workshop will aim at capturing visions of ICT’s role in providing for urban sustainability.

A call for abstracts has been issued and invites submissions until 15 March 2010. A prize fund totaling $10,000 will be awarded to the three best papers.

The Workshop will take place in the UN Pavilion dedicated to "One Earth, One UN" at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 on 14 May 2010.

ICTs and the green city of the future is an event organized within the framework of ITU Kaleidoscope activities, open to members and non members of ITU, general visitors of the Expo, students, experts and high level industry officials.

This workshop aims at increasing the dialogue between academia and experts working on the standardization of ICTs.

Submissions are encouraged by all, but especially young people, students, researchers and professors from universities and research institutions. They can cover any topic along these broad guidelines but should reflect the sessions listed in the call for abstracts.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010 9:45:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |