How standards impact our world

Ensuring safety and simplifying life

By Antoinette Price

Modern life is more and more IT centric, whether buying a plane ticket, making reservations, paying bills, reading the news, watching a movie or downloading a song. Many daily activities are carried out over the internet, via computers, laptops and tablets. IEC works to develop International Standards which ensure compatibility among the varied technology, safety and reliability for all users.

IEC Technical Specification TS 62700 DC power supply for notebook computers, will help reduce e-waste
IEC Technical Specification TS 62700 DC power supply for notebook computers, will help reduce e-waste

Less waste and less fuss with a single external charger

Many people use multiple gadgets every day, which have a different power charger, (weighing anything from 300 to 600 grams), that will not work with the next laptop or notebook. Thus, the concept of a single external charger that would work for a wide range of notebook computers and laptops would save a lot of hassle, expense and more importantly, enable significant reduction of e-waste related to power supplies.

The published Technical Specification IEC TS 62700DC power supply for notebook computers, does exactly this. It covers aspects such as the connector and plug, while ensuring safety, interoperability, performance and environmental considerations.

Moving in the right direction

On a similar topic, earlier this year, the IEC welcomed the vote by the European Parliament to embed the universal charger Standard for data-enabled mobile telephones into law in the EU by 2017. The International Standard IEC 62684Interoperability specifications of common external power supply (EPS) for use with data-enabled mobile telephones was the product of a cooperative effort within a group led by the IEC, which included the USB-IF (Implementers Forum), CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization) and ITU-T(International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector).

It offers a good solution to the issues of e-waste and the inconvenience consumers experience, of requiring different chargers for each mobile phone, including for upgraded models.

The standardization piece of the big data puzzle

What is big data? One definition is the massive volume of structured and unstructured data that is so large it is difficult to process using traditional database techniques. Leaders from business, academics and governments do however agree that there is potential for big data to fuel innovation, advance commerce and drive progress, by enabling more informed decisions. However, the complexity of deriving useful insights from a sea of big data poses a huge challenge.

Where does standardization fit in?

ISO/IEC JTC (Joint Technical Committee) 1: Information technology has created ISO/IEC JTC 1 Study Group on Big Data (BD-SG), which is looking on the role of standardization in big data by:

  • Surveying existing information and communication technology for key technologies and relevant standards, models, use cases and scenarios for big data from JTC 1, IEC, ISO and other standards development organizations
  • Identifying key terms and definitions
  • Assessing the current status of big data standardization market requirements, identifying standards gaps, and proposing standardization priorities to serve as a basis for future JTC 1 work

Jim Melton, Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 32: Data management and interchange, said: “This is a very exciting time to be involved in IT standardization. I truly believe that addressing the problems, challenges and opportunities associated with big data can create a paradigm shift.”

The group is expected to make recommendations for future standards development at the 2014 ISO/IEC JTC 1 Plenary in Abu Dhabi in November.

The future of the cloud lies in standards

In a world flooded with information technology products from multiple vendors, it is thanks to International Standards and their interfaces that these products can interact.

Cloud computing, in basic terms, involves the use of resources that are not owned, controlled or maintained by a single user, rather, resources accessed over a network and shared among a community of users. As outlined in its definition in the ISO/IEC 17788 draft standard, cloud computing, is a shift in the paradigm for providing IT capabilities to users.

There are strong demands for standards, especially from governments, because cloud computing has the potential to disrupt the IT products and services marketplace.

In 2009, ISO/IEC JTC 1 recognized the emerging field of cloud computing and established the sub-committee SC 38: DAPS (Distributed Application Platforms and Services), to address three main areas - web services, service oriented architecture and cloud computing. Four years on, there is heavy focus on cloud computing and a new study group begun in 2013 is looking at future work in this area, including determining what standards are required.

ISO/IEC JTC1/SC 38 is uniquely placed to serve as a consolidator of cloud computing standards, with key players from the industry and government involved in the group. Its PAS (Publicly Available Specification) process, allowing specifications to be developed through consensus, make it the preferred vehicle for establishing new international standards in this field and a great vehicle for collaboration.

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IEC Technical Specification TS 62700 DC power supply for notebook computers, will help reduce e-waste IEC Technical Specification TS 62700 DC power supply for notebook computers, will help reduce e-waste
Big data needs big infrastructure such as large data centres Big data needs big infrastructure such as large data centres
Example of Big Data: IBM-created visualization of Wikipedia edits (text and images) Example of Big Data: IBM-created visualization of Wikipedia edits (text and images)