Hard action needed to simplify technology standards, says UN agency

21 October 2008

The telecommunications industry needs to take aggressive action to streamline its work on standardizing the industry and end duplication of effort within the sector, the United Nations technology agency stressed today.

It is estimated that over 300 information and communications technology (ICT) standards bodies exist from fields as diverse as broadband internet, aeronautical and maritime navigation, satellite-based meteorology, phone services and TV broadcasting.

“Imagine a world with no internet or no telephone calling from one side of the world to the other,” said the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standards chief Malcolm Johnson.

“Literally thousands of standards pin together this framework of technologies that keeps the world’s businesses and consumers connected,” he told the first-ever Global Standards Symposium.

He emphasised that clarity and efficiency must lead the decision-making process as standardization of the ICT industry becomes more complex by the day.

“We must ensure we all pull together and avoid duplication of effort and waste [of] our increasingly limited resources,” Mr. Johnson urged the government ministers, diplomats, senior industry executives and lead officials from standards bodies gathered at the one-day meeting in Johannesburg.

“Even large organizations are having difficulty resourcing this effort, so how can small organizations, especially from developing countries, hope to play a role?” he asked.

To ensure better coordination between industry and standards developing organizations, a direct line of communication between technology leaders and ITU’s standardizations arm is being set up, according to a press released issued by the agency.

The ITU expects the communications shortcut to ensure that emerging needs are addressed efficiently and in the most appropriate place.

Participants at the symposium also addressed issues relating to ICTs and climate change, as well as increasing developing country participation in the standardization process and accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities.


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