Pioneer in innovation

ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 on information technology

By Karen Higginbottom, Chair JTC 1

ISO/IEC JTC 1 is the Joint Technical Committee of the IEC and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for International Information Technology Standards. Created in 1987, JTC 1 currently has 20 Subcommittees (SCs), one Study Group and three Working Groups. It has published more than 2 800 Standards.

datacenter
An IT system, comprised of hardware and software, networks and interfaces, applications and data, must be interoperable to resolve complex technological problems

Forward thinking

The reasoning for a joint committee was, at the time, a fairly forward-thinking concept. An information technology system comprised of hardware and software, networks and interfaces, applications and data, must all be interoperable to resolve complex technological problems. In a “system”, the programme of work of one SC relies heavily on the Standards being developed in another.

The TC-level experts in JTC 1 are able to oversee the varied activities as they strive for greater cohesion among the Standards. This direct engagement allows member bodies to put all the puzzle pieces in place. However, the ICT industry’s innovative spirit also sets out to address the need for aggressive, creative problem solving.

Close links with consortia

The valuable development of technical specifications in consortia and other standards organizations was recognized by JTC 1 in 1994 with the implementation of the JTC 1 Publicly Available Specification (PAS) transposition process. The PAS process is a two-step effort that allows for broadly implemented specifications to be approved by JTC 1 National Committees as ISO/IEC International Standards. JTC 1 currently has 11 recognized PAS submitters and IEC and ISO have published almost 200 PAS submitted International Standards. In addition to the PAS process, JTC 1 SCs maintain over 400 liaison relationships. Of those interactions, 130 are with non-IEC, non-ISO organizations.

Cooperation is key

JTC 1 makes significant use of the fast track process, has a unique cooperative process with ITU-T and benefits from a Partner Standards Development Organization (PSDO) arrangement with IEEE. The myriad of coordination opportunities has served the ICT standards community well, but it hasn’t occurred without a cost. Subcommittees must find the resources to maintain these relationships, analyse the technical content of neighbouring efforts, jointly work on technical content and ensure that successful implementations can occur – all while successfully completing their own programme of work.

Systems thinking and working

So here is where things will get interesting for many IEC and ISO Technical Committees. The onslaught of “systems” – the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing and Active Assisted Living – are all grand efforts that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.

Both IEC and ISO have begun to develop and implement oversight structures for new system activities. The question for TCs is “How they will manage the necessary resources to deal with the plethora of new systems and still ensure that “volunteers” accomplish that for which their organization is paying them?”

An awful lot of puzzle pieces to put together.

About ISO/IEC JTC 1

The JTC 1 of IEC and ISO is a consensus-based, globally relevant, voluntary international standards group.

Since 1987, ISO/IEC JTC 1 has brought about a number of very successful and relevant information and communication technologies (ICT) International Standards in many fields: IC cards (smart cards), automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technologies, information security, biometrics, cloud computing, multimedia (MPEG), database query and programming languages as well as character sets, to name just a few.

This article originally appeared in the IEC SMB newsletter October 2015.

Gallery
Karen Higginbottom, Chair of ISO/IEC JTC 1 Karen Higginbottom, Chair ISO/IEC JTC 1
Globe circuit board ISO/IEC JTC 1 is a joint committee that develops International Information Technology Standards
datacenter An IT system, comprised of hardware and software, networks and interfaces, applications and data, must be interoperable to resolve complex technological problems