Working with complexity
e-tech: What are Smart Cities for you?
Sheldon: To me “Smart Cities” means making optimum use of the infrastructure and resources of our cities – using the smartness to better utilize capacity than we could otherwise.
One of the topics that we have identified and are focussing on is a systems approach to standardization, which is in part stimulated by accelerating technological integration and the advent of these ever more complex systems. The systems approach is designed to facilitate handling this complexity and also to provide a neutral, independent platform on which different organizations can cooperate.
IEC systems approach to Smart Cities
e-tech: How does the IEC systems approach encourage Smart Cities?
Sheldon: The complexity of the world we live in today and technology convergence means that we need a new approach to tackle these subjects. The systems approach that we have in the IEC is intended to be a response to the challenges of Smart Cities.
e-tech: How is the IEC Systems work structured?
Sheldon: The IEC is addressing the needs of large systems in several stages. After evaluating a proposal in a given new or existing technical area, the SMB (Standardization Management Board) will launch a Systems Evaluation Group.
Systems Evaluation Groups explained
The SEG (Systems Evaluation Group) evaluates work covering a broad system. Its role is to trace systems boundaries and identify all stakeholders who are impacted by the system. The SEG invites participation by all relevant experts from within or outside the IEC, including from fora and consortia.
It can build roadmaps, develop architectures, detect standardization gaps and missing processes but it will not publish International Standards. The SEG will exist only for a limited period of time, normally up to two years and reports to the SMB.
The SMB recently founded SEG 1 on Smart Cities. This SEG is now identifying the many electrotechnical systems that are found in cities, with a view to integrating and optimizing them
Then come Systems Committees
Once the SEG has completed its mandate it may be transformed into a SyC or Systems Committee. One of my tutors used to call this the ‘helicopter view’ and I think that this is a very good description – it’s not the ground-level view, it’s a view from altitude.
The SyC will identify high-level interfaces, define reference architectures, use cases and functional requirements and prepare relevant Systems Standards. It will span multiple TC/SCs (Technical Committees/Subcommittees) and external organizations providing guidance on interface functionality and interactions within a system. However, while a SyC is to stimulate cooperation between individual TCs it doesn’t have the authority to impose or dictate solutions.
The SyC will have a TC-like membership with experts appointed by the IEC NC. It can develop and publish Systems International Standards and will function generally in the same manner as a conventional TC. There will be special procedures for the groups that are in liaison with a SyC
Systems Resource Group supporting role
Last but not least, the Systems Resource Group, made up of systems experts, will guide the development of specialized tools and software applications that are needed by the System Evaluation Groups and later Systems Committees in their work.
A key focus for IEC work in general and for Systems Standards in particular is increased cooperation. IEC Systems Committees not only require that TCs communicate and collaborate efficiently beyond their own specialist groups, but also that IEC brings in experts from other organizations outside of the IEC as needed.
IEC cooperates with all relevant organizations as equal partners, because today there is not a single organization that will be able to develop all that is needed by industry. We need to take on board good work that is out there.
e-tech: Can you explain the Systems Evaluation Group on Smart Cities work?
Sheldon: SEG 1 on Smart Cities, which has been active for about five or six months, has had two meetings so far and will have a third meeting in September. The Smart Cities Group is currently preparing a reference architecture and standardization roadmap in cooperation with different organizations.
Specifically they are looking at liaisons both within the IEC and outside the IEC – this includes groups such as ISO/IEC JTC1, ITU-T (International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector) and at the European level, CEN-CENELEC SSCC (Smart and Sustainable Cities and Communities) CG (Coordination Group).
Working Groups established
SEG1 has created a set of WGs (Working Groups) responsible for individual city scenarios, based on specific city challenges. One of their big tasks is to create an inventory of existing standards, as well as a collection of to-be-defined terms and definitions, reference architectures, and roadmaps.
The seven Working Groups that were approved at the recent SEG 1 meeting in Berlin are: city service continuity, urban planning and simulation system, city facilities management, use case – smart home, use case – smart education, smart cities assessment, standards development for smart cities using the city of Johannesburg as a piloting benchmark for smart cities implementation.
The Working Groups’ results will become the core part of SEG 1’s final report to SMB.
Task Groups underway
There are TGs (Task Groups) working on special tasks in relation to Smart Cities. The Working Groups and Task Groups will work closely together, sharing working drafts in order to ensure a consistent approach.
The three SEG1 TGs are TG1: Inventory of existing standards, TG2: Reference architecture model and supplemental research and TG3: Roadmap based on the recommendations of WGs and TGs.
e-tech: What happens then?
Sheldon: SEG1 will prepare a roadmap document to be presented to the SMB with a recommendation on whether or not this SEG should be converted into a Systems Committee. Their objective is to make this recommendation to the SMB in the first half of 2015.
White Paper in production
In parallel, the IEC MSB (Market Strategy Board), which brings together Chief Technology Officers of leading international companies, is preparing a White Paper on Smart Cities. It will outline how cities can move towards "smartness" and the new business models that need to be put in place, as well as identifying the value, cost and benefit of standards in these processes. The main aim of the White Paper is to guide all relevant stakeholders towards integrated solutions that are going to be accessible, affordable and sustainable.