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 Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The ITU-T L.1410 and L.1420 Recommendations to assess the environmental impacts of ICTs are among 10 international methodologies to have been pilot-tested in Europe’s bid to establish and converge around a common international framework to assess the energy and emission footprint of the ICT sector.

Recommendation ITU-T L.1410 “Methodology for environmental impacts of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) goods, networks and services” provides a standardized way to assess the direct environmental impact of ICT goods, networks and services, as well as their indirect impact on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of non-ICT industry sectors. It is based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology standardized in ISO 14040 and ISO 14044.

ITU-T L. 1420 “Methodology for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions impact assessment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in organizations” standardizes the requirements with which an organization should comply when assessing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is based on ISO 14064-1.

In a study led by the European Commission, 27 leading ICT companies and associations engaged in a 10-month trial of measurement methodologies developed by entities including international standards development organizations (SDOs) such as ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), ISO, IEC, ETSI and the GHG Protocol.

The study was commissioned by the European Commission’s DG CONNECT as part of its ICT Footprint initiative which aims to test the workability and compatibility of ‘footprinting’ methodologies in the ICT sector, with the overarching goal of building consensus and engendering convergence around a “common methodological framework for the measurement of the energy consumption and carbon emissions arising from the production, transport and selling processes of ICT goods, networks and services.”

The results of the study are detailed in a report titled “ICT Footprint: Pilot testing on methodologies for energy consumption and caron footprint of the ICT-sector”.

The pilots recognized Recommendation ITU-T L.1420 as the only available international reporting methodology to assess ICT-related energy consumption and/or greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in ICT organizations as well as ICT-related activities within non-ICT organizations.

As regards products, networks and services, similarities were found between Recommendation ITU-T L.1410 and ETSI TS 103 199 "Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of ICT equipment, networks and services: General methodology and common requirements with the goal to develop a common ITU-T/ETSI Methodology for ICT products, networks and services".

The report concludes by recommending actions through which policy makers, SDOs and industry can accelerate the drive towards a common international ICT-footprinting framework. The pilot-testing has proven that the work performed by ITU-T is resulting in robust deliverables and should be leveraged as a basis for future enhancements.

Acting on suggestions from the pilot-testing report, ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and climate change) and the ETSI Technical Committee on Environmental Engineering (ETSI TC EE) are collaborating on the revision of their respective standards, Recommendation ITU-T L. 1410 and ETSI TS 103 199.

A first meeting between the two expert groups will discuss a roadmap for this collaboration. Kindly hosted by ETSI, the meeting will be held in Sophia Antipolis, France, 27-31 May 2013. Details can be found here.

Read more on ITU-T Study Group 5 here

Read more on ITU-T and climate change here

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013 07:29:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 16 May 2013

An ITU workshop on software-defined networking (SDN) will gather a global selection of standardization experts to progress SDN standards-development with one aim to establish efficient coordination  of future work.

SDN is a promising route towards the introduction and realization of network virtualization, a major shift in networking technology which will give network operators the ability to establish and manage new virtualized resources and networks without deploying new hardware technologies. ICT market players see SDN and network virtualization as critical to countering the increases in network complexity, management and operational costs traditionally associated with the introduction of new services or technologies.

SDN proposes to decouple the control and data planes by way of a centralized, programmable control-plane and data-plane abstraction. This abstraction will usher in greater speed and flexibility in routing instructions and the security and energy management of network equipment such as routers and switches.

The upcoming workshop responds to Resolution 77 - Standardization work in ITU-T for software defined networking agreed by the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) in Dubai, UAE, 20-29 November 2012. SDN was emphasized as a strategic priority for ITU-T by the meeting of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Group, 18 November 2012 (The 2012 CTO Meeting Communiqué can be found here). The Global Standards Symposium (GSS-12) held the day preceding WTSA-12, 19 November 2012, acted on the recommendations of the CTO Group by taking SDN as one of its points of focus and feeding the conclusions of its SDN discussion into WTSA-12.

The workshop will take place at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, 4 June 2013, within the annual meeting of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Advisory Group (TSAG), 4-7 June 2013. It will be co-chaired by Wei Feng, Huawei, China, Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 11 (Signalling requirements, protocols and test specifications); and Chae-Sub Lee, Kaist, Republic of Korea, Chairman of ITU-T Study Group 13 (Future networks including cloud computing, mobile and NGN). Confirmed speakers include representatives of ITU-T Study Groups 11 and 13; the University of Tokyo, Japan; MIIT/CATR, China; Cisco Systems; the ETSI Industry Specification Group on Network Function Virtualization (ISG NFV); and the Open Networking Foundation (ONF).

More information on the workshop can be found here.

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Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:00:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Cooperation between ITU and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has produced a new metadata standard to enable rights information interoperability in IPTV services. The standard provides a framework for communicating data such as that accompanying material under copyright, to ensure that multimedia content can be shared legally across different platforms.

Recommendation ITU-T H.751 “Metadata for rights information interoperability in IPTV services” is technically aligned with IEC 62698 “Multimedia home server systems – Rights information interoperability for IPTV”. The parallel standard is the product of collaboration  between experts from IEC Technical Committee 100 (Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment) and ITU-T Study Group 16 (Multimedia coding, systems and applications).

“Metadata” refers to data describing aspects of other data, or information about information presented in the form of “structured, encoded data that describe characteristics of information-bearing entities to aid in the identification, discovery, assessment and management of the described entities” (Recommendation ITU-T Y.1901).

IPTV metadata is information on multimedia services and content which provides a descriptive and structural framework for managing IPTV services spanning television, audio, video, text, graphics and data. “Rights information metadata” in particular refers to information on the rights granted to end-users of multimedia content, stipulating pre-defined ‘utilization functions’  including permissions to view/hear, copy, modify, record, excerpt, sample, store or distribute content; restrictions on times or hours content can be played, viewed or heard; and obligations such as payment.

To date, a lack of interoperability in rights information metadata has meant that consumers are at risk of being locked into solutions offered by a single service provider. A user’s purchased rights to multimedia content are dependent on and bound to the rights held by the service provider. In addition, service providers employ different technologies and systems in the management of digital content and associated rights information.

ITU-T H.751 | IEC 62698 provides clear mechanisms or rules for flexible digital distribution that allows for simple exchanges of content, enabling service providers to implement common interpretation and integration of rights information. The standard targets interoperability to ensure that service providers and device manufacturers can easily exchange rights information across their current content management systems. It gives the high-level specification of the metadata for rights information interoperability (RII), defining the common semantics and core elements on RII. In other words, it finds the greatest common denominators in rights expressions (syntactic embodiments of rights) to encourage the mutual use of rights information.

The standard also specifies rights-related information – such as ‘content ID’, ‘permission issuer ID’ and ‘permission receiver ID’ – used to bridge between rights-related metadata. The rights information covered by ITU-T H.751 | IEC 62698 includes rights- and security-related metadata described in Recommendation ITU T H.750 High-level specification of metadata for IPTV services.

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Thursday, 16 May 2013 13:28:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 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)  #     |