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 Wednesday, 15 May 2013

ITU announced the winners of its ICT Innovation Application Challenge during the 2013 WSIS Forum on 15 May. The challenge is part of ITU’s efforts to tap the power and interoperability of ICTs in promoting sustainable prosperity and business in emerging economies. The winner of the $5000 prize for the best app from an individual was MMSSign from Prof Mohamed Jemni, University of Tunis. The corporate app category was awarded to Senmobile Ltd for the application Defarlou which is a mobile order management system for entrepreneurs. Prizes for the application challenge were sponsored by Nokia Siemens Networks.

Making mobile phones accessible is still a challenge particularly in developing countries. Videophones are the preferred method of communicating for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but, they require significant bandwidth and computer processing power to compress and decompress video in real time. The MMSign application converts text messages to a video sequence in sign language. The animations are avatar-based animation obtained by automatic interpretation of text into sign language.

SenMobile Ltd is a technology startup that specializes in innovative mobile solutions targeting the general population. Défarlou is a simple and compact ordering management application designed for entrepreneurs in developing countries. It can record orders and due dates, search for a specific order, keep track of order status and client payments, and send an SMS directly to the client when the order is ready to be delivered or picked-up. Originally designed with business owners of emerging markets in mind and developed in Senegal, défarlou means “order” in Wolof. The app is developed in Java ME and works on Java ME feature phones and smartphones.

More information on the apps can be found here.

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Wednesday, 15 May 2013 15:06:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 13 May 2013

ITU members have affirmed their commitment to the responsible consideration of health effects associated with the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that underpin wireless communications. ITU’s standards-making arm (ITU-T) has long been engaged with the subject of human exposure to ICT-emitted EMFs and an ITU workshop in Turin, Italy, 9 May 2013, has concluded with a Call to Action giving further impetus to this work.

Man-made sources of electromagnetic fields include those generated by ionizing radiation and the electricity provided by the power sockets in our homes. ICTs such as mobile phones and wireless routers emit higher-frequency electromagnetic radiation to transmit information through the air.

The ITU Workshop on human exposure to electromagnetic fields was organized in partnership with the Ministry for Economic Development of Italy , supported by Huawei and hosted by Telecom Italia at its innovation laboratories in Turin.

The Call to Action encourages ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change) to lead cooperation among standards development organizations (SDOs) in the interests of harmonized international EMF standards. In particular it calls on ITU-T to extend its work on human exposure to EMFs by developing and promoting EMF information and education resources accessible to all communities; establishing specialised EMF assessment and accreditation training programs for developing countries; and promoting open online compliance and reporting systems as well as the development of a standardized online system to demonstrate compliance with international EMF standards. Read the full text of the Call to Action here.

The workshop offered policy makers an overview of EMF and also sought to identify further actions through which to respond to WTSA Resolution 72 “Measurement concerns related to human exposure to electromagnetic fields” . First agreed by the 2008 World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly in Johannesburg (WTSA-08) and revised by 2012’s WTSA in Dubai (WTSA-12), Resolution 72 recognizes the integral role that wireless technologies are playing in bridging the digital divide and responds to developing countries’ concerns with the risks of human exposure to EMF and local communities’ growing resistance to the deployment of radio installations in their surrounds. Specifically, the Resolution stresses the value of ITU-T guides on the use of international EMF-focused standards, with particular emphasis on those relating to measurement methodologies.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU: “The rational solution to citizens’ concerns regarding exposure to EMFs is to ensure that the actions of national regulators and network operators are accompanied to the greatest possible extent by transparency and communication with citizens. Compliance with international standards and associated reporting mechanisms assures citizens that regulators and network operators have complied with international best practices in deploying base stations, thereby safeguarding citizens’ health.”

ITU-T Study Group 5 studies health considerations associated with wireless communications under Question 7/5 "Human exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) due to radiocommunication systems and mobile equipment" . The resulting ITU-T Recommendations give operators, manufacturers and government agencies the tools required to assess the EMF levels attributable to telecommunication and radiocommunication systems and to verify compliance with World Health Organization (WHO) recommended human-exposure guidelines set out by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the IEEE International Committee Electromagnetic Safety (ICES).

Question 7/5 has produced “EMF Estimator” software that calculates the cumulative radio frequency exposure levels in the vicinity of transmitting antennas. Part of Recommendation K.70 “Mitigation techniques to limit human exposure to EMF’s within vicinity of radiocommunication stations” , EMF Estimator contains a library of transmitting antennas’ radiation patterns for a wide range of radio communication and broadcast services. A typical application for EMF Estimator would be the calculation of EMF levels in a local community from a cellular base station or community broadcast service.

Another key reference for standards implementers is Recommendation ITU-T K.91 “Guidance for assessment, evaluation and monitoring of the human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF)” .ITU-T K.91 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. While existing standards are product or service-oriented, the K.91 guide 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.

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Monday, 13 May 2013 18:59:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |