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 Sunday, 28 November 2010
A new ITU-T Technology Watch Report highlights how submarine cables can be used as a real-time global network to monitor climate change and to provide tsunami warnings.

Future generations of cables and associated components could have the capacity to directly measure climate variables, such as water temperature, salinity and pressure on the ocean floor. All this could be achieved over long periods of time at low cost.

Despite a wide range of tools to monitor oceans, oceanographers cannot measure water variables at the sea floor. Using Submarine Communications Networks to Monitor the Climate highlights how new and old submarine telecommunication cables could fill this gap.

The report, by Yuzhu You of the Institute of Marine Science, University of Sydney, Australia invites ITU experts to study the topic further, particularly with a view to identifying areas for standardization.

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Sunday, 28 November 2010 16:18:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Malcolm Johnson, has be-come a regular contributor to the Guardian’s Low carbon ICT blog.

Two articles to date:

Time to recognise the power of ICT for environmental change

We need a level playing field to measure carbon emissions from ICT

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Sunday, 28 November 2010 16:10:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 24 November 2010
An international workshop on accessibility has identified priority areas where the development of International Standards could ease the lives of the estimated 650 million people worldwide with some form of accessibility problem.

The workshop “Accessibility and the contribution of International Standards” was organized on 3 to 5 November 2010 in Geneva, Switzerland, by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), which is the focal point for strategic cooperation set up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). A core objective of the workshop was to lay the groundwork for a road map of future initiatives on accessibility standards and related support for these standards, with the involvement of the key stakeholders.

After three days of input and discussion, the recommendations were viewed as highest priority for consideration by the WSC organizations:
  • Establish a "Strategic Advisory Group on Accessibility” between the WSC organizations
  • Develop a common accessibility policy between the WSC organizations
  • Encourage national members of the WSC organizations to actively promote the implementation of accessibility standards
  • Strengthen WSC organization linkages with the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and with disabilities organizations
  • Revise ISO/IEC Guide 71: 2001, Guidelines for standards developers to address the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities, to ensure consistent concepts in the area of accessibility
  • Identify accessibility-related content in proposed new standards of the WSC organizations
The workshop – which was supported by sign language interpretation – explored how International Standards could strengthen accessibility aspects in the design of products, services, environments and facilities. Break-out groups addressed the following subjects:
  • Accessibility and everyday products
  • Accessibility and buildings
  • eAccessibility and eInclusion
The workshop was opened by Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General; Malcolm Johnson, Director, ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, and  Gabriel Barta, Head of Technical Coordination, IEC Central Office, representing the IEC General Secretary.
Welcoming the participants, Rob Steele, highlighted the importance of identifying and understanding the areas where standards are needed and where the three organizations can work together. He said: “There are particular benefits and opportunities in using the standards process to gather representatives from a diversity of interests who may not usually meet together to discuss and resolve accessibility issues. The issue requires input from government, regulators, policy makers, industry, accessibility equipment providers, civil society NGOs, accessibility organizations, academia and researchers.
Malcolm Johnson, Director, ITU Telecommunication standardization Bureau, declared: “The recent ITU Plenipotentiary Conference held in Mexico adopted the first ever Resolution on ICTs and accessibility which endorses and reinforces the actions we have initiated in recent years: facilitating the active participation of persons with disabilities in our work, for example by providing captioning and sign language, and wheel chair access etc.  All our new standards have to be checked to ensure they meet accessibility criteria. Many of the new ICT devices to assist persons with disabilities need international standards to ensure interoperability."
Gabriel Barta, Head of technical coordination, IEC Central Office, stated: "At the IEC, the need of persons with temporary or permanent disabilities are taken very seriously. We have issued at free guide that helps standards developers and manufacturers to build those needs into their work. We're delighted at the very positive outcome and the many promising directions that have been identified in the workshop, and look forward to seeing them implemented."
Participants in the workshop agreed that as a background to the recommendations, they wished to underline that “Accessibility” is not limited to addressing the needs of persons with disabilities, elderly people or persons with temporary impairments, but aims at the usability of a product, service, environment or facility by people with the widest range of capabilities.
Accessibility is the degree to which a product, device, service, environment or facility is usable by as many people as possible, including by persons with disabilities. Its importance is underlined by the fact that the number of persons with disabilities, either congenital, acquired or as a result of age is estimated to be around 650 million worldwide. International standardization can be a powerful tool for strengthening accessibility in all the above areas by setting the same standards for use worldwide.
Key stakeholder groups participating in the Geneva workshop included disability organizations and consumer groups, governments and regulators, product designers, manufacturers and industry addressing accessibility needs, and standards developers from around the world. Under discussion were the current and future needs in the field of accessibility, as well as the possible contributions international standardization can make in facilitating the development of accessible solutions around the world.
Among those attending the opening plenary were: Wan Hea Lee, on behalf of Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Convention for the rights of persons with disabilities; Imed Eddine Chaker, International Disability Alliance, represented through the Arab Organization of Disabled Persons, Chairman of the Tunisian National Union of the Blind (UNAT); Inmaculada Placencia-Porrero, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission, Unit for the Integration of People with Disabilities, and Joan Durocher (USA), Executive Director, US National Council on Disability.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010 10:38:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
ITU-T’s Study Group 5 on environment and climate change meets this week in Geneva and has seen record levels of attendance and contributions; including 11 new countries participating for the first time.
The group, which recently adopted the universal mobile phone charger, is working on – among other things – a set of methodologies for ICT companies to measure their carbon footprint, and to estimate the considerable saving in global green house gas emissions that can be achieved through the use of ICTs.
Also on the table at that this meeting are several proposals relating to electromagnetic fields (EMF) issues. EMF was the subject of a new Resolution at the recent Plenipotentiary Conference tasking ITU to increased its work in the area. This meeting will see a new ITU-T Recommendation on “Monitoring of the EMF level”  put forward for consent (first stage approval). The proposed standard will give guidance for monitoring of EMF and provide the general public with clear and easily available data concerning EMF levels.

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Wednesday, 24 November 2010 10:18:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 12 November 2010
The sixth will take place 2-3 March 2011.

A call for abstracts has been issued with authors encouraged to submit presentations on a variety of topics including the environmental impact of electric vehicles; wireless systems and, a key focus this year, managing driver distraction.  

Texting, making calls, and other interaction with in-vehicle information and communication systems while driving is a serious source of driver distraction and increases the risk of traffic accidents. Standards and design guidelines for these systems and devices, whether portable or fixed in the vehicle, can contribute to decreasing driver distraction, allowing the driver to focus on the road ahead.

Held during the Geneva International Motor Show, The Fully Networked Car is in a unique position to engage the ICT sector with the motor industry. For the sixth year running, the event will bring together key players involved in the development of technologies and standards, as well as other major industry representatives.

International standards organizations, ITU, ISO and IEC host the event bringing together key players involved in the development of technologies and standards, as well as other major industry representatives.

Today’s communications capabilities give the potential for cars 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, minimize their carbon emissions and provide multimedia communications.

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Friday, 12 November 2010 11:30:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 11 November 2010
A new ITU-T Technology Watch Report provides an overview of the innovative role that information and communication technologies (ICT) play in smart water management. The report also surveys current and forthcoming standardisation work in the field of smart water management.

Economic growth, seasonal climatic conditions and rising population are all affecting availability of water resources. Moreover, a number of effects linked to climate change, such as lengthy droughts and extreme weather events, are worsening the situation. Water shortages are at the core of many of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one of which is to reduce by half the number of people without safe access to water by 2015. According to the UN World Water Development Report, by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of freshwater.

Technologies such as semantic sensor web, remote sensing with satellite and geographical information systems can be used innovatively by water authorities to obtain information in real time about water use, to track and forecast the level of rivers and to identify new sources of fresh water. With the impact of climate change, sole reliance on historical hydrologic weather patterns is no longer a viable forecast for water authorities. The availability of information about current conditions in a particular situation on a timely basis is crucial for decision making in water resource management. For instance, flood water management is a dynamic process, changing daily, weekly or monthly, depending on weather conditions and how ecosystems respond to climate variability.
ICT provides a unique opportunity for water stakeholders to obtain information in near real time about a number of physical and environmental variables such as temperature, soil moisture levels, rainfall, and others through web enabled sensors and communication networks, and can thus have accurate information about the situation at hand (without physically being there) for their forecasts and decisions. Smart metering technologies can also provide individuals, businesses and water companies with near real-time information about their own water use, thus raising awareness about usage, locating leakages and having better control over water demand.

The Report can be downloaded from a dedicated website which provides additional sources of information and an overview of ITU-T Study Groups with standardisation work related to water.

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Thursday, 11 November 2010 10:30:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 09 November 2010

A group of twenty-three leaders from the information and communication technology (ICT) sector and senior management of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) met for the second annual meeting of Chief Technology Officers (CTO) in Paris. They agreed on a set of recommendations to modernize the current ICT standardization landscape and set priorities for new issues in standards work.

The CTOs reaffirmed that standardization is one of the essential building blocks of the Information Society and of the global ICT networks that power trade, commerce, sustainable development, healthcare, education, literacy, and entertainment. Today, standards are not only the technical blueprints necessary for interoperability and connectivity within global information infrastructures. They are also tools with significant public policy and economic consequences.

Faced with an ever-growing number of standards bodies and consortia, the CTOs called for immediate steps to streamline and modernize the standards landscape and endorsed the need for a new approach, based on collaboration, cooperation and coordination, to improve the efficiency of standards work, reduce duplicating and conflicting standards and promote a seamless, interoperable future global communications network. As a result of the review, the CTOs initially identified, in addition to ITU, a number of regional and national standards bodies that are key standardization organizations. It was recognized that additional work is needed to further develop the concept into multi-dimensional ecosystems for different markets and technologies, pre- and post-standardization, and appropriate links and cooperation among the different bodies, given the technological convergence that is taking place.

Full press release

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Tuesday, 09 November 2010 09:28:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |