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Watch out IoT, there’s a new sheriff in town


© Flickr/CC-licence/BBC World Service

  • Two proposed ITU Recommendations agreed for global IoT standards:
  • Requirements and capabilities of device management
  • Requirements of the smartphone as sink node for IoT apps and services

The telecoms industry is build on globally accepted and recognised standards, to be without them is unthinkable. So its little surprise that the Wild West of the Internet of Things (IoT) is about to get standards of its own.

The ITU Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) Study Group 20 (SG20) met in Singapore this week to discuss the IoT and its applications, including smart cities and communities. It concluded on Tuesday having made “significant inroads” in the development of international IoT standards. Around 180 participants from over 20 countries and 30 organisations discussed standardisation around IoT devices and network requirements, interworking of IoT applications and services, signalling requirements for next generation networks as they evolve to IoT, and telecom systems infrastructure in smart cities.

Consent was achieved on two proposed ITU-T Recommendations. If later adopted, the ITU says these should help governments and industries develop international IoT standards in the near future.

The first Recommendation covers “Common requirements and capabilities of device management in the Internet of Things”. In other words, IoT devices and applications have to be correctly configured before they can operate efficiently through standardised interfaces and procedures – so the Study Group looked at the common parameters for remote activation, diagnostic, software upgrade and security management, which could allow for a simpler and more efficient way to manage IoT devices and applications. This could then pave the way for providing a common set of standards to facilitate the fast deployment of M2M and IoT communications on as wide a range of devices as possible.

The second Recommendation covers “Requirements of the smartphone as sink node for IoT applications and services”. By sink node, the group means a collection point for IoT data, such as monitored health parameters, device status, video and audio feeds. This makes sense, given the proliferation of smartphones and the current linkage between IoT devices and smartphone apps (see our story from earlier this week on “frustrating” smart home companion apps). The smartphone would also provide Internet connectivity for devices such as wearables and home monitoring devices, and could potentially enable smart healthcare initiatives, such as tele-health or mobile health monitoring.

The ITU meeting was hosted by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), which is already heavily invested in IoT through the country’s Smart Nation initiatives, which include smart homes, smart urban habitat, autonomous vehicles and digital healthcare wearables. The next ITU-T SG20 meeting will be held at the end of July in Geneva.

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