Monday, June 8, 2015

Why complex ICT systems should be standardised?

We may not be aware of them, but we use standards every day, in all aspects of our daily lives – in communications, media, healthcare, food, transport, construction, furniture, energy. Standards provide:

• Safety and reliability: adherence to standards helps ensure safety, reliability and environmental care. As a result, users perceive standardized products and services more dependable, this in turn raises user confidence, increasing seals and the take up of new technologies.
• Support of government policies and legislation: standards are frequently referenced by regulators and legislators for protecting user and business interests and to support government policies.
• Interoperability: the ability of devices to work together relies on products and services complying with standards.
• Business benefits: standardization provides a solid foundation upon which to develop new technologies and to enhance existing practices.

Consider what the world would be like without standards:

• Products might not work as expected;
• They may be of inferior quality;
• They may be incompatible with other equipment – in fact they may not even connect with them;
• In extreme cases, non- standardized products may be dangerous.

A good example of the power of standardization is the GSM™ mobile communication technology and its successors (3G, 4G...), truly global phenomena, in which ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) has played a leading role. Although GSM™ was originally envisaged as a solution just for Europe, these technologies have been deployed world-wide. As a result, travelers today can communicate and use familiar services in every corner of the world – all thanks to standardization. 

In a world of converging yet diverse technologies, complex ICT systems must communicate and interwork on all levels – this is interoperability.

One of the key motives for the development of ICT standards is to facilitate interoperability between products in a multi-vendor, multi-network and multi-service environment.

Complex products and systems are often based on multiple standards from several standards-making organizations or on requirements published by industrial fora. Collaboration between standards groups is therefore vital.

In addition, standards themselves need to be designed and tested to ensure that products and services complying with them do indeed achieve interoperability.

Dr. Ioannis Dontas

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