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 Thursday, 09 May 2013

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a crucial role to play in tackling the developmental challenges facing the cities that are becoming our primary choice of habitation in the 21st century, concluded participants attending the 8th ITU Symposium on ICT and Environment Change, held in Turin, 6-7 May.

An estimated 65% of the world’s population now lives in cities. With an additional 1.3 million people moving from rural to urban areas every week, by 2050 more than six billion people will be living in urban agglomerations. In addition, the size of conurbations continues to grow, with the number of mega-cities of over 10 million inhabitants growing from just two in 1950 to 22 by 2015, 17 of which will be located in the developing world.

The symposium highlighted the importance of a globally coordinated approach and internationally standardized technologies in the creation of new ‘smart sustainable cities’. Greater integration of ICTs into urban planning will greatly facilitate opportunities for economic growth and social well-being, from better access to education and healthcare through to improved prospects of employment and living standards. The symposium concluded by issuing a call for stronger advocacy at the international level and for ICT policies to be integrated into the ongoing dialogues on urban development within the UN and other organizations.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, ITU, “Rapid urbanization and high-density populations foment innovation and economic growth but also give rise to social, economic and environmental challenges, as cities’ infrastructures develop slower than the influx of new inhabitants. ICTs can make our cities safer, cleaner, and more convenient places to live.”

Full press release

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Thursday, 09 May 2013 14:32:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Microsoft, a long-standing member of ITU, has put forward a voluntary contribution of $40,000 to the Bridging the Standardization Gap (BSG) Fund maintained by ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

The $40,000 is Microsoft’s most recent contribution to the BSG Fund, which owes its health to Canada, Cisco Systems, Korea Communications Commission, Microsoft and Nokia Siemens Networks.

David A. Heiner, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation: “The participation of developing countries in ITU-T standardization work is crucial in harnessing the full potential of international standards to enhance cooperation, trade and economic development. Microsoft is pleased to support this initiative that seeks to enhance the inclusiveness of ITU-T's international standardization programs.”

The BSG Fund provides invaluable financial assistance in carrying out the work programme outlined by Resolution 44 of the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly. Resolution 44 was adopted in Johannesburg in 2008 (WTSA-08) and revised in Dubai in 2012 (WTSA-12) and aims to, inter alia:

  • Facilitate the participation of developing countries in the ICT standards development process
  • Allow developing countries to profit from access to new technology development
  • Ensure that the requirements of developing countries are taken into account in the development of international standards (ITU-T Recommendations)

Fulfilling the objectives of Resolution 44 demands considerable commitments of ITU-T resources and contributions to the BSG Fund make an appreciable impact in this regard.

The use of contributions for specific purposes is undertaken only with the agreement of the sponsor. Parties interested in contributing to the BSG Fund are encouraged to contact the BSG secretariat at

More information on ITU-T activities to Bridge the Standardization Gap can be found here

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Tuesday, 30 April 2013 10:00:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Mihoko Sakurai and Jiro Kokuryo (Keio University, Japan); Richard Watson (University of Georgia, USA); and Chon Abraham (College of William and Mary, USA) took home 1st prize of 5,000 USD at the recent ITU Kaleidoscope conference: Building Sustainable Communities.

The winning paper is titled “Sustaining life during the early stages of disaster relief with a Frugal Information System: Learning from the Great East Japan Earthquake”. It advocates for the use of cell phones and the mobile Internet as the standard platform in creating information systems which prioritize resilience over robustness. Greater resilience is said to be achieved by deploying resources as frugally as possible and thereby limiting the number of resources exposed to damage in the event of a disaster.

Cybersecurity, climate change, future networks, cloud computing, optical wireless networks, and the resilience of telecoms infrastructure to natural disasters were just some the topics addressed by academic papers presented at the 2013 Kaleidoscope conference: Building Sustainable Communities.

Hosted by Kyoto University, Japan, 22-24 April – and informed to a great extent by lessons learnt from the Great East Japan Earthquake – Kaleidoscope 2013 sought to identify emerging ICT developments able to effect the change needed for communities to meet challenges posed by the new millennium.

Kaleidoscope 2013 was organized by ITU and technically co-sponsored by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Institute of Electronics, Information and Communication Engineers of Japan (IEICE) and was held at the invitation of Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

Additional support was provided by NICT, NTT, OKI, KDDI, NEC, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Huawei Japan, Telkom South Africa, Blackberry, TTC, Waseda University (Japan), the Institute of Image Electronics Engineers of Japan (IIEEJ), the ITU Association of Japan, and the European Academy for Standardization (EURAS).

The event attracted over 180 delegates from 25 countries. 99 papers were submitted for review, 30 of which were presented at the conference by virtue of their being accepted for publication in the Kaleidoscope Proceedings and IEEE XPlore.

The other authors of award-winning papers sharing a prize fund of 10,000 USD were:

  • 2nd prize (3,000 USD): “Telebiometric Information Security and Safety Management.” Phillip H Griffin (Booz Allen Hamilton, USA).
  • 3rd prize (2,000 USD): “Innovation Management of Electrical Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Standards in the Sino-European Context” Martina Gerst, Xudong Gao (Tsinghua University, P.R. China).

The winning papers all share a close connection with on-going ITU-T standardization work. The first-prize submission will feed into the work of the ITU-T Focus Group on Disaster Relief Systems, Network Resilience and Recovery (FG-DR&NRR); the second-prize paper is of interest to ITU-T Study Group 17 (Security); and the third-prize winner ties in with the work of ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change).

In addition, Dr Akihiro Nakao from University of Tokyo, Japan delivered a keynote address entitled “Deeply Programmable Network; Emerging Technologies for Network Virtualization and Software Defined Network (SDN)”. SDN was recently made a strategic priority for ITU-T by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) in Dubai, UAE, 20-29 November 2012.

ITU Kaleidoscope conferences are peer reviewed academic events with a Steering Committee, and a 140-member Technical Programme Committee responsible for evaluating the submitted papers through a double-blind peer-review process.

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Tuesday, 30 April 2013 09:54:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 19 April 2013

The ITU-T Focus Group on Driver Distraction has presented its final deliverables in the form of five technical reports to form the basis for ITU-T’s accelerating standardization work in the driver distraction arena.

Established in February 2011, the Focus Group has been instrumental in raising awareness around ITU-T activity on driver distraction and the scale of this workload, as well as in providing clear direction to ITU-T’s driver-distraction work plan. The group has also been successful in opening lines of communication with key organizations and drawing new expertise into the ITU-T standardization process.

The Focus Group’s five technical reports describe user interface requirements for automotive applications; system capabilities for improving the safety of driver interaction with applications and services; and approaches being used to enable external applications to communicate with a vehicle. The reports are freely available here.

The conclusions put forward by the reports are being taken up by the two groups leading ITU-T’s standardization work on driver distraction, Study Group 12 (Performance, QoS and QoE) and Study Group 16 (Multimedia coding, systems and applications). New related work items calling for external coordination and collaboration may also be addressed by the Collaboration on ITS Communication Standards.

ITU’s engagement with driver distraction originated with Resolution 1318 - ITU's role in ICTs and improving Road Safety adopted in April 2010 by ITU’s governing body, ITU Council. The Resolution was made in response to the fact that, as stated in Resolution 1318, “driver distraction and road-user behavior, which includes among many examples ‘texting’, ‘text messaging’, interfacing with in-vehicle navigation or communication systems, are among the leading contributors to road traffic fatalities and injuries.”

An ITU-T Technology Watch report entitled "Decreasing Driver Distraction" was published in August 2010, playing a role in kick-starting the work of the Focus Group. The report is a succinct overview of the relationship between ICTs and driver distraction and also discusses the core issues at play when viewed from a standardization perspective.

Looking ahead, this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day on 17 May is themed, “ICTs and improving road safety”. A highlight of the event will be ITU’s presenting the annual World Telecommunication and Information Society Award to eminent personalities in recognition of their leadership and dedication to the field.

In addition, an upcoming workshop hosted by ITU and UNECE at ITU headquarters in Geneva, 27 June 2013, will address “Intelligent transport systems in emerging markets – drivers for safe and sustainable growth”. This workshop includes a session dedicated to driver distraction which will host Scott Pennock (BlackBerry), former Chairman of the now terminated Focus Group, to present the outcomes outlined by the group’s technical reports and to discuss the likely course of corresponding ITU-T standardization work.

Scott Pennock’s recent article on the QNX Auto Blog provides the rationale for tackling driver distraction in ITU-T and also summarizes the use cases and user scenarios targeted by forthcoming ITU-T Recommendations.

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Friday, 19 April 2013 13:04:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 18 April 2013

Participants in an ITU workshop held for the benefit of government and private-sector technology leaders in the Nile River Basin have agreed a Call to Action which charges ITU with mobilizing its global membership to enable ‘smart’ water management.

The ‘smart’ integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in water networks adds communication, monitoring, analysis and control capabilities, increasing efficiency and reliability in water supply, improving delivery of water to crucial sectors like agriculture and health, and reducing water consumption and waste.

The ITU workshop ‘ICT as an enabler for smart water management’, was held in Luxor, Egypt, from 14-15 April 2013, hosted by Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. The event was the first of its kind, and reflects the growing importance and acceleration of smart-water standardization work in ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, ITU: “The importance of sufficient supplies of good quality water is recognized in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one of which is to halve the number of people without safe access to water by 2015. One of the many ways in which ICT will be central to the post-2015 development agenda is through supporting greater agility and efficiency in water management frameworks.”

Full press release

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Thursday, 18 April 2013 08:54:59 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 17 April 2013

“Smart Sustainable Cities” is the theme of the 8th ITU Symposium on ICTs, the Environment and Climate Change to be held in Turin, Italy, 6-7 May 2013. The free of charge event is open to all and will bring together a global selection of specialists in the field – from top policy makers to thought leaders in business, engineering, standardization and research – to critique recent efforts in the development of smart cities and to determine the best path forward in the task of leveraging ICTs to enhance cities’ environmental sustainability.

The 2013 Symposium is organized by ITU in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and will be hosted by Telecom Italia at its innovation laboratories in Turin. The event builds on the success of previous Symposia held from 2008 to 2012 in Kyoto, London, Quito, Seoul, Cairo, Accra and Montreal.

The upcoming Turin Symposium will address challenges and opportunities associated with the transition to a greener, more resource-efficient global economy through mitigation and adaptation to climate change; tackling e-waste; disaster preparedness; methodologies to assess the environmental impacts of ICTs; and cost-effective ICTs to empower smart cities and societies. Items on the Symposium’s agenda include:

  • Energy efficiency, clean power and the smart grid as engines for urban sustainable growth
  • Assessing environmental impacts in cities 
  • Integrated ICT solutions for smart sustainable cities and empowered citizens
  • Tackling e-waste and solid waste issues in cities
  • ICTs to monitor the climateClimate change adaptation and emergency telecommunications in urban areas
  • Smart sustainable cities

The Symposium will be held in conjunction with the first meeting of the ITU-T Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities, 8 May 2013, and a Workshop on Human Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields, 9 May 2013.

Find more information on the Symposium including details of how to register here.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013 15:54:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |