Tag Archives: International Telecommunication Union

Updates from ITU

Home but never alone: Celebrating World Amateur Radio Day
By Lisa Leenders – Early last year, when the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) first pushed much of the world into lockdown, one traditional – some might even say old-fashioned – hobby experienced a spectacular revival. Amateur radio lets people interact socially, intensively, without ever meeting in person.

In those early days and weeks of the pandemic, radio amateurs reached out to each other spontaneously via the airwaves at the local, national, and global levels.

These days, local clubs in Europe and other regions are meeting on-the-air, more frequently than they have in decades, providing familiar, friendly voices, as well as regular check-ins on those, such as the elderly, who may be confined at home.

Special event stations, mostly transmitting from people’s homes, shared the message “Stay Safe” in dozens of countries and languages, reminding us all to help limit the spread of the virus.

Over the past year, on-air activity has reached unprecedented levels. Amateur radio contests are attracting record-breaking numbers of entries.

Today, the hobby is more popular than ever, with more than 3 million licensed operators worldwide, according to the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). more>

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Updates from ITU

Wireless carriers face FOMO vs. FOBFA test
By Roger Lanctot – Something peculiar is unfolding in the wireless industry. While wireless carriers enthusiastically report new fibre and smartphone connections to their networks along with correspondingly robust revenue streams, there is little or no mention of automotive connectivity.

Even Verizon, in the United States, with its budding commercial fleet portfolio comprised of the vehicle connectivity assets of Telogis and Fleetmatics, acquired years ago and combined, merits nary a mention on the earnings call with analysts. AT&T, too, the big dog in embedded vehicle connections in the United States, relegates its automotive activities to the shadows – presumably immaterial to the broader financial prospects of the organization.

The same phenomenon is playing out in Europe, where the likes of Orange, Vodafone, and Deutsche Telekom are operating 5G test sites for connected cars but barely making a peep regarding long-term plans in their public statements. In Asia, as well, Docomo, SK Telecom, KDDI and others are heavily engaged with car makers, but with little revenue yet to show from years of connecting cars.

What is behind the great hush that has descended over car connectivity?

Where is the excitement?

The great hush

Ten years ago, wireless carriers were thrilled about connecting cars because the focus was increasingly on so-called value-added services such as vehicle diagnostics and service scheduling. Usage-based insurance also contributed to the rising interest and awareness. more>

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Updates from ITU

Towards environmental efficiency in the age of AI
ITU – The rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies has sparked the need for a sustainable approach able to safeguard the environment. A recent ITU workshop provided a platform to discuss environmental efficiency in the age of AI, increasing automation, and smart manufacturing.

The workshop discussed emerging technologies’ potential to contribute to climate action as part of global efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It also highlighted practical tools to evaluate environmental aspects of emerging technologies and discussed the role to be played by international standardization in supporting the expansion of this toolkit.

The workshop’s discussions fed into a meeting of the ITU Focus Group on environmental efficiency for AI and emerging technologies (FG-AI4EE). The group is analyzing the relationship between emerging technologies and environmental efficiency to benchmark best practices and provide a basis for new ITU standards. “This focus group is among the first global platforms for the environmental aspects of emerging technologies,” noted Paolo Gemma, Huawei, Co-Chair of the Focus Group.

The Focus Group is open to all interested parties. Sign-up as a participant and join the mailing list on the homepage. For more information, contact tsbfgai4ee@itu.int. more>

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Updates from ITU

On World Standards Day, let’s renew our resolve to protect the planet with standards
By Houlin Zhao – Today, ITU, together with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) celebrate World Standards Day 2020, this year dedicated to international standards’ contribution to environmental sustainability.

Under the theme ‘Protecting the Planet with Standards’, today ITU, ISO and IEC pay tribute to the experts worldwide who contribute to the development of international standards.

This year’s theme demands global action. We reinforce that action by developing international standards.

Standards development is a fundamental pillar of ITU’s mission as the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs).

ITU standardization is driven by contributions from ITU members and consequent decisions are made by consensus. The ITU standardization process ensures that all voices are heard, that standards efforts do not favor particular commercial interests, and that resulting standards have the consensus-derived support of the diverse, globally representative ITU membership.

They help us to share in the ICT advances changing our world, advances that are key to addressing humanity’s most pressing challenges and accelerating progress towards all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. more>

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Updates from ITU

Here’s how we can meet the global need for digital skills development
More than ever, COVID-19 has thrown the need for digital skills and capacities into stark relief around the world. The newly published Digital Skills Insights 2020 report is a carefully curated collection of the best strategies to strengthen the capacities and skills needed to help everyone benefit fully from digital transformation, no matter where they live and no matter what their level of digital skill development. Below is my foreword to this timely new edition of the report.
By Doreen Bogdan-Martin – In the wake of the global pandemic, the importance of digital skills has never been so evident, nor so urgent. As those lucky enough to enjoy fast connectivity took refuge from the global health emergency by moving to a virtual environment to support economic continuity, education and interpersonal contact, those lacking access to digital networks and skills have been left even further behind.

As the world struggles to fashion a ‘new normal’ for the post-pandemic era, it is more apparent than ever that the ability to leverage digital technologies will be vital to the future resilience and prosperity of nations, communities and individuals. This timely new edition of Digital Skills Insights focuses on pertinent topics related to this pressing global need for digital capacity building and skills development.

Now in its fourth year, Digital Skill Insights aims to provide new perspectives and enhance knowledge among the ITU stakeholder community on issues impacting digital learning and skills development, featuring eight new articles from leading international experts, divided into two broad areas. The first set provides a broad overview of the discussion on digital skills demand and supply, new skills requirements in emerging job markets, and challenges related to future digital skills requirements. Issues covered include digital skills shortages in global labor markets, and how skills needs evolve in line with new technologies. They emphasize the need for accurate forecasts of digital skills requirements, and flexible digital skills acquisition approaches. more>

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Updates from ITU

Reducing harmful interference to satellites near Earth, the Moon and beyond
ITU News – A month ago, you were watching a football match using your new satellite dish when suddenly the image went fuzzy – only to return after a game-winning goal that you had just missed. Last week, while paying for groceries your card transaction didn’t go through – even though you had just received your monthly salary. And today, while working from home your internet connection was abruptly cut – with social media services down and no mobile service reception, there was simply no way to deliver that project on deadline!

These common frustrations we have all experienced on the ground could very well be chalked up to the increasing demands being placed on satellite systems orbiting high above our heads. Not only can the obstruction of these systems affect our daily lives, but it can also prevent the collection of accurate scientific measurements, distort navigation by air and sea, and interrupt many other space services, from satellite broadcasting to deep space research.

During the first in a series of three ITU Satellite webinars, over 600 participants from around the world examined how harmful interference impacts the space ecosystem, focusing on how ITU and stakeholders can prevent and reduce interference so that space services can operate unimpeded. “Space services play a key role in achieving the SDGs,” said ITU Radiocommunication Bureau Director Mario Maniewicz in his opening remarks. “But these services need to be protected from harmful interference to do so.”

One of the main mandates of ITU, according to its Constitution and through its Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R), is to enable radiocommunication services to operate without receiving or causing harmful radio-frequency interference (RFI). According to the ITU Radio Regulations, interference is defined as harmful if it endangers the functioning of a radio navigation or of other safety services, or if it degrades, obstructs, or interrupts a radiocommunication service that is operating in accordance with the Radio Regulations. more>

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Updates from ITU

Build back better after COVID-19: Key learnings from 20 years of ICT regulatory reform
By Stephen Bereaux – As we look back at 20 years of telecommunication/information and communication technology regulation at this year’s milestone Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-20), there is no better time to understand how the responses and initiatives from the ICT sector during the COVID-19 pandemic can help ITU Members – and the world – to build back better.

Two decades have seen GSR become the pre-eminent global meeting for regulators and policymakers to tackle the many challenges emerging from the convergence of ICT services. From digital taxation frameworks to consumer trust, infrastructure sharing to network investment, the symposium also serves as a choice venue for regulators to interact and collaborate with the private sector to solve these and other critical challenges.

This year, as its own response to COVID-19 restrictions, GSR is going digital and will be held as a virtual meeting from 1-3 September 2020. As the world moves from response to recovery in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, look for the upcoming points to be covered in GSR’s online sessions as they reflect what ITU members and the wider ICT community will need to bear in mind as the so-called ‘new normal’ takes shape.

5 key approaches to the ‘new normal’

First, how might institutional frameworks be made fit for purpose in a post-COVID world? Key issues to be addressed are privacy and data protection – especially concerning health information. Does the advent of contact tracing and tracking apps require even closer collaboration between data protection agencies and telecoms? What is the role of telecoms in tackling the global issue of COVID-19-related misinformation and disinformation? What is clear is that new and existing institutional frameworks must be designed to support data privacy and help combat misinformation.

It is also important to understand the sector competition impacts of the post-pandemic era – particularly in terms of data sovereignty, and data ownership. Changes in market power between industry segments also come into play here. For example, operators may face long-term reduced demand or higher costs as the world recovers from the pandemic. At the same time, initial indications suggest that so-called “tech giants” may become significantly stronger under a range of potential future scenarios. Such a situation could arise not only because of the sizeable market power of these companies, but also because of their critical role as the gatekeepers for smartphone operating systems, which must be opened for contact tracing apps, tackling COVID-related disinformation, and more. This shifting balance of market power between these two segments of the communications and technology industries may, in turn, require new regulatory settings. more>

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Updates from ITU

COVID-19: How mobile phone contact tracing can save lives – and preserve privacy
ITU News – Contact tracing is a key public health response to limit infectious disease outbreaks such as the global COVID-19 pandemic.

More than ever, authorities worldwide are using the power of mobile technologies to help them understand and manage the spread of COVID-19.

GPS, Bluetooth, cellphone masts and AI-powered big data analytics are now being used in countries across the world to collect data that helps authorities improve these efforts and save lives.

But how can we preserve personal privacy and maintain public trust while using these technologies to perform crucial contact tracing?

Key experts discussed these issues on Friday in Episode 2 of the AI for Good Webinar Series: COVID-19 – Using mobile phones & AI for contact tracing while respecting privacy.

One central goal of contact tracing is to identify people who have come into close contact with people who have the virus, explained Reinhard Scholl, Deputy Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), as he kicked off the webinar.

“Is it possible to have both privacy and health?” asked Scholl. “The fear is that the short-term emergency measures that have been taken right now will stay long after the madness has passed.”

Indeed, many countries have felt the need to relax privacy laws during the crisis in order to use data to prevent the spread of COVID-19. more>

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Updates from ITU

UNESCO rallies international organizations, civil society and private sector partners in a broad Coalition to ensure #LearningNeverStops
By Clare O’Hagan – At a time of when 87% of the world’s student population is affected by COVID-19 school closures, UNESCO is launching a global education coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk.

Over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries are affected by COVID-19 school closures.

“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Partnership is the only way forward. This Coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity.”

Since closing schools to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have been deploying distance learning solutions and grappling with the complexity of provisioning education remotely, from delivering content and supporting teachers to providing guidance to families and addressing connectivity challenges. Equity is the paramount concern because closures disproportionately hurt vulnerable and disadvantaged students who rely on schools for a range of social services, including health and nutrition.

“We must speed up the ways we share experience, and help the most vulnerable, whether or not they have internet access”, said Angelina Jolie, UN High Commission for Refugees Special Envoy, who partnered with UNESCO in the establishment of the Coalition. more>

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Updates from ITU

How can we ensure safety and public trust​ in AI for automated and assisted driving?
ITU News – Cars are becoming increasingly automated. Drivers already benefit from a wide range of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, and blind spot warning, which are gradually becoming standard features on most vehicles.

Today’s automated systems are taking over an increasing amount of responsibility for the driving task. It is expected that soon, sensors will take the place of human impulse, and artificial intelligence (AI) will substitute for human intelligence.

This process is defined through various level steps, from low levels of automation where the driver retains overall control of the vehicle in level 1, to a fully-autonomous system in level 5.

10 years ago, manufacturers predicted many cars on today’s roads would be fully automated, but it still remains a distant future for the automotive industry. At the recent Future Networked Car Symposium 2020 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, top experts joined a panel entitled ‘AI for autonomous and assisted driving – how to ensure safety and public trust’ to discuss the progress and the prospects for vehicles that drive themselves – and how we might achieve this future. more>

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