ITU-IT experts discuss IoT and smart city standards

ITU-IT experts discuss IoT and smart city standards

Singapore aims to be at the heart of developing IoT standards

Technologists are meeting in Singapore this week to talk about developing global standards for the growing areas of IoT and smart cities.

The International Telecommunication Union Standardization Sector (ITU-IT) Study Group 20 meeting consists of 150 people from 14 ITU member states as well as 36 companies.

As it stands, there isn’t a widely accepted set of standards to govern IoT, its applications and its devices. This has left the industry somewhat fragmented.

And there’s clearly a growing need for global standards. According to a paper from Cisco, there’ll be 50 billion connected devices being used by 2021, and research firm IDC predicts that the IoT market will be worth $1.7 trillion (£1.2 trillion) by 2020 – compared to $655.8 billion (£462.6 billion) in 2014.

Singapore has ambitions to be at the heart of developing these standards, which will aid its ever-growing smart city movement. IoT plays a major role in the country’s ‘Smart Nation’ initiatives such as Smart Homes, Smart Urban Habitat, Autonomous Vehicles and Digital Healthcare wearables.

The meeting is a collaboration between IDA and the ITU, and comes as a joint understanding was reached and signed back in October of last year. Singapore will be one of 10 cities piloting a set of performance indicators that will lead to the eventual deployment of what’s being called the “Global Smart Sustainable Cities Index”.

Law firm Taylor Rose TTKW spoke to Internet of Business about the importance of developing worldwide standards in a bid to keep IoT in check.

One of the firm’s solicitors said: “While some are concerned with the data that will become available and the control that this will provide the government, the other side of the argument is that the new accurate data could provide the foundations for fair and efficient social systems.

“A main concern would be that the introduction of more a far more regulated approach could force any unlawful use of the data deeper underground. The question we should all be posing isn’t ‘should it be governed?’ – it should be ‘who should govern it?’

“Global standards that govern the IoT are currently flitting between formal and informal with the tech community leading the pack although there is currently a strong push for a global governing body.

“There have been various comments in recent years that the UN should be responsible for the handled by United Nations and that a code of conduct should be introduced. I think that we need to remember that governance is not ‘law’ and we are abiding by internet governance already.”

Yoni Shohet, the co-founder and CEO of SCADAfence, believes there should be a particular focus on developing standards for smart manufacturing.

He said: “Having global standards in place to govern industrial IoT is essential to providing better security for manufacturing plants and the end-product. Protecting pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and automotive from malicious threats can ultimately save lives.

“Industrial networks use proprietary communications technologies that make it difficult to have a holistic cyber-security plan. With guidance, smart manufacturing companies can utilise best practices and better protect their industrial networks. Additionally, global standards should require an education plan to raise awareness of various risks, as well as help build the required skill set to face cyber challenges in industrial environments.