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 Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A joint ITU-WHO workshop on “e-Health standards and Interoperability” at ITU headquarters in Geneva, 26-27 April, gathered experts from the healthcare and ICT communities to discuss means of leveraging today’s advanced communications capabilities to achieve more efficient, cost-effective and equitable health services worldwide.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) opening the event: "With a growing, ageing, population in the 21st century, it is clear that one of the areas where ICTs can help make the greatest difference is in the provision and delivery of healthcare. ICTs are now understood to play a pivotal role in increasing efficiency and quality in delivery of health care, and reducing risk and suffering, particularly among the most vulnerable communities in developing countries. However, in e-health unfortunately standardized solutions are rare. Interoperability is a key determinant of e-Health’s efficient and equitable rollout. This is not an area where we can afford to have costly squabbles over proprietary technologies. International standards will bring down costs, increase access, and improve efficiencies."
 
The workshop showcased innovative healthcare technologies and policy frameworks already in force, and pointed to areas where interoperable ICT standards could further stimulate such innovations’ development and implementation.
 
The workshop hosted a lively exchange of ideas and brought healthcare and ICT experts together to form the relationships certain to underpin the development of next-generation healthcare services. The workshop’s closing session focused on the future of e-Health standardization which, judging by the volume of input received from attendees, represents the beginnings of what is sure to be a very fruitful collaboration between ITU and WHO. It was suggested at the event that ITU and WHO provide a platform to lead these discussions, with the participation of the key e-health stakeholders.
 
At the event, the following actions were suggested to the various stakeholders:
 
Suggested ITU-WHO actions:

- Joint policy brief on the essentiality of standards and interoperability to the exchange of medical data, as well as outreach activities to educate policy-makers and business leaders on the relevance and application of e-health standards
- Creation of an e-health Working Group to advise ITU and WHO on steps to be taken in the future
- Collaborate with other Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) to create an information portal detailing all available healthcare standards and best practices in their application
 
SDO actions:

- Coordinate with the new HL7 initiative on mobile e-health
- ITU and HL7 to develop a specification for the use of ITU-T X.1303 CAP specification within HL7 to deliver health warning messages
- Consider effective cost models for e-health standards licensing
- Collaborate in the development of a common e-health standards roadmap; ensuring no work is duplicated, and encouraging a converged view on the structure of data and information in the e-health context
 
Points of relevance to the technical community (drawn from ICT and healthcare sectors):

- Address interoperability challenges impeding the development of an open, global infrastructure to enable the exchange of health information
- Begin development of an e-health standards ecosystem by addressing the required functional features of e-health technologies, while at the same time allowing these systems enough flexibility to evolve in line with the development of new technologies or best practices
- The imperative to e-health that is Quality of Service (QoS)
 
More information on the Workshop’s objectives: here
The Workshop’s programme (with speakers’ biographies and presentations  attached): here.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2012 9:40:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, April 27, 2012

A meeting of European network operators last week (covered in this press release), concluded with a strong set of messages from industry ahead of the forthcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT).
 
The meeting, convened by ITU and the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) drew a positive focus on the possibility of the new treaty strengthening ICT sector development.
 
Concluding, Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, noted the following points had been made:

  • The new treaty should address the current disconnect between sources of revenue and source of cost to ensure a win-win for all players.
  • It should facilitate the benefits of Internet being brought to all the peoples of the world in particular by encouraging broadband roll-out and investment.
  • It should focus on telecom issues without involving the geopolitical agenda, in particular Internet governance, and emphasise the importance of liberalization and privatisation, and should recognize the role of the private sector and market based solutions.
  • Should remain high level principles providing light touch regulation that encourages investment and innovation and that any economic aspects should have a stringent impact analysis taking account of the different levels of development in countries around the world. It should be flexible recognising that tomorrow’s world will be very different to today’s.
  • Should foster the right conditions to allow markets to flourish within a long term vision backed by sustainable business models.
  • That WCIT will be an opportunity to address many of the concerns of industry and so industry should be active in the preparatory process, in particular an input on behalf of ETNOs membership would be very welcome.
  • That ITU should organise an information session after all the regional groups have concluded their preparations possibly in September.

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Friday, April 27, 2012 5:44:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 26, 2012

At its most recent meeting, 11-19 April, ITU-T Study Group 5 – ITU’s lead Study Group on electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic effects – consented Recommendation ITU-T K.91: Guidance for assessment, evaluation and monitoring of the human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF).

Recognizing that a significant part of the infrastructure needed to bridge the digital divide involves wireless technologies, the K.91 guide was created in response to developing nation concerns with the risks of human exposure to RF EMF and local communities’ growing resistance to the deployment of radio installations in their surrounds.

The new Recommendation responds to Resolution 72 of the 2008 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly in Johannesburg (WTSA-08) which called upon ITU-T, and in particular Study Group 5, to expand and accelerate its work in this domain.

Specifically, SG 5 was urged to regularly update its guides on the use of ITU-T publications to achieve EMC and safety, with particular emphasis on those relating to measurement methodologies.

Recommendation ITU-T K.91 acknowledges that a variety of methods exist to assess human exposure to RF EMF, that each carry different advantages and disadvantages, and that the choice of a method depends on the needs and circumstances of its user. K.91 therefore provides guidance on methods to assess and monitor human exposure to RF EMF in areas with surrounding radiocommunication installations; based on existing exposure and compliance standards in the frequency range of 9 kHz to 300 GHz. This includes procedures to evaluate exposure levels and to demonstrate compliance with exposure limits.

While existing standards are product or service-oriented, K.91 is intended for the examination of areas accessible to people in the real environment of currently operated services with many different sources of RF EMF. It does however also make reference to standards and recommendations related to EMF compliance of products. For more on the work of SG 5, see the group’s webpage here.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 4:03:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Building Sustainable Communities, the fifth ITU Kaleidoscope conference, will be hosted by the University of Kyoto, Japan, 22-24 April 2013. Kaleidoscope-13 is being organized by ITU with the technical co-sponsorship of IEEE ComSoc and the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers (IEICE) of Japan, with financial support from Telkom SA, and in partnership with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) of Japan, Waseda University, the Institute of Image Electronics Engineers of Japan (I.I.E.E.J.), and the European Academy for Standardization (EURAS).

Kaleidoscope events are peer-reviewed academic conferences with the aim of increasing dialogue between academics and experts working on the standardization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

A call for papers has been issued and invites submissions by 10 September 2012. A prize fund totaling $10,000 will be awarded to the three best papers, which will also be featured in a special edition of IEEE Communications Magazine. Additionally, young authors presenting their papers at Kaleidoscope-13 will receive Young Author Recognition certificates and all the papers presented will be archived in the IEEE Xplore online catalogue.

Kaleidoscope-13 aims to identify emerging ICT developments able to effect the socio-economic change needed for communities to meet the challenges posed by the new millennium. Sustainable communities will be those that prepare as well as they can for future challenges, and this will require a careful balance of human-centric technology and sound ethical values.

ICT standards will be key to enabling the co-evolution of technology and sustainable communities. Developing these standards will require concerted global efforts by stakeholders across industry sectors. Kaleidoscope-13 therefore promotes collaboration in this regard and will highlight the multidisciplinary nature of future ICTs.

In addition to an exhibition of local universities’ curricula, the presence of high-level keynote speakers, and the presentation of invited papers, Kaleidoscope-13 will host the third Jules Verne’s Corner, a space giving air to the ideas of futurists and science fiction writers.

Following Kaleidoscope-13, a one-day Workshop on ITU and Academia, 25 April 2013, will provide information on ITU’s Academia membership category and will present and discuss the standards-focused activities of ITU’s academic members.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact the ITU-T Kaleidoscope secretariat at kaleidoscope@itu.int

For additional information, see the event’s webpage at: http://itu-kaleidoscope.org/2013.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 3:20:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, April 24, 2012

At its recent meeting at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, 11-19 April, ITU-T Study Group 5 – ITU’s Study Group on environment and climate change – consented two new ITU-T standards (Recommendations) targeting increased energy efficiency of ICT equipment.

The first Recommendation provides a specification of the direct current (DC) interface between power-feeding systems and connected ICT equipment, and the second defines energy efficiency metrics and measurement methods to assess the energy efficiency of telecommunication equipment.

Recommendation ITU-T L.1200 specifies a DC current interface able to operate using a power source of up to 400 Volts, which allows higher energy efficiency and reliability than can be achieved using lower-voltage power feeding solutions. The Recommendation standardizes a power feeding system applicable to all ICT equipment defined in a location using these power sources such as: telecommunication centres; radio base stations; data centres; and customer premises. Additionally, the DC interface will simplify the use of renewable energy sources producing DC output such as photovoltaic generators and fuel cell systems.

Recommendation ITU-T L.1310 defines energy efficiency metrics and measurement methods for telecommunication equipment including: wired as well as wireless broadband access; optical transport technologies; routers; switches; mobile core network equipment; and small networking equipment used in homes and small enterprises. L.1310 defines metrics which evaluate ICT equipment’s energy efficiency through a comparison between its technical performance and its energy consumption. The Recommendation also details measurement methodologies to verify energy efficiency figures produced in accordance with L.1300.

For more on the work of SG 5, please see the group’s webpage here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012 1:59:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 23, 2012

The latest ITU-T Technology Watch report discusses the privacy concerns associated with cloud computing, the role privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) could play in alleviating them and the standardization activities currently engaged with the topic.
 
Cloud computing represents a major change in the way information is managed, especially as it relates to personal data. Cloud is expected to positively impact users’ IT budgets and costs of ownership, but could also threaten the relevance of traditional security, trust and privacy mechanisms.
 
The rollout of cloud services has introduced a number of questions related to information privacy and security:

  • Who are the stakeholders in the cloud computing market?
  • What are their roles and responsibilities?
  • Where is the data stored?
  • How is the data replicated?
  • Which legal frameworks are applied to data processing in a cloud environment?
  • How will service providers meet expected levels of security and privacy?

The adoption of privacy-enhancing technologies will depend on the existence of uniform ways to handle personal data, which must be agreed at the international level. Developing technical standards in this regard is a means to achieve international consensus on such issues, and compliance with these standards will aid in demonstrating countries’ and businesses’ adherence to the associated legal and regulatory frameworks.
 
Authored by Stéphane Guilloteau, France Télécom Orange, France and Venkatesen Mauree of ITU, the report, as well as additional information on cloud-computing privacy, is available at http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/techwatch/Pages/cloud-computing-privacy.aspx.
 
Experts from industry, academia and research communities are invited to submit topic proposals and abstracts for future reports in the Technology Watch series. For more details, please contact the Technology Watch team at tsbtechwatch@itu.int.


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Monday, April 23, 2012 9:31:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |