The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-16) got underway today in Hammamet, Tunisia which offers ITU members the opportunity to set the strategic direction of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) for the next four years.
WTSA-16 will review ITU-T's structure, working methods and mechanisms for collaboration with other standards bodies, SMEs and open-source communities, and the many vertical sectors applying ICTs as enabling technologies. This work will result in the provision of a standardization toolkit optimized to assist government and industry in realizing the full potential of the post-2020 ICT environment.
Youssef Chahed, Head of Government of the Republic of Tunisia, delivered the welcoming remarks at the WTSA-16 Opening Ceremony where he highlighted the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the creation of a knowledge society by 2020.
"The new standardization strategies to be decided at this Assembly will provide the foundation for ICT development and the creation of a knowledge society," said Chahed. "Standards are important to success in innovation and creativity, for example in 5G communication and Smart Cities."
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: "The WTSA process continues to be the world's foremost platform for multi-stakeholder collaboration in the interests of leveraging ICTs to drive sustainable development. ITU's unique public-private partnership of members from government, industry and academia is essential to its value proposition. Our Member States ensure that ITU is globally represented, and this gives great strength to our standardization work. We work with our members to strengthen ITU and the task of this Assembly is to ensure that standardization remains well-positioned to support the development of the global ICT ecosystem."
The decisions of the WTSA-16 will shape ITU-T into a form optimized to assist government, industry and academia in achieving their ambitions for year 2020 and beyond, in fields including IMT-2020 (5G), the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, and the ICT sector's contribution to the pursuit of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
Director of ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, Chaesub Lee said: "We are keenly aware of the enormous opportunities and responsibilities that lie ahead if we are to realize the full potential of innovation in fields such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Connected Cars, Digital Financial Services, the Internet of Things and Smart Cities. Realizing this potential will demand that ICT stakeholders collaborate closely to build trust and security in the use and application of new technologies. International standards will support this collaboration, encouraging greater scale, interoperability and competition, all of which directly determine universal affordable access."
Outside of the main conference sessions there is also an extensive series of side events including:
The CCITT/ITU-T 60th Anniversary Talks will host high-profile speakers to explore the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence and Digital Financial Services and their implications for industry and society, and supporting standardization and governance frameworks.
The first meeting of the ITU Women in Standardization Expert Group (WISE) will bring together leading women in the ICT field to debate the best course of action in advocacy aimed at enhancing the participation of women in the ICT sector and supporting technical standardization activity.
A special event focused on the accessibility of ICTs to persons with disabilities will highlight ITU's latest initiatives to mainstream the consideration of ICT accessibility in the development of technical standards.
WTSA-16 will continue until 3 November when its conclusions as well as any new resolutions, decisions or related outcomes will be shared.