Open Standards: Expanding and Enhancing Wearables in eHealth

Posted on May 20th, 2015

Open standards have a critical role to play in empowering medical wearable devices.
Shutterstock, Georgejmclittle’s

In a recent mHealthNews article, Carole C. Carey, Chair of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society/Standards Committee addresses the critical role open standards have in empowering medical wearable devices.

It doesn’t require extensive research to understand the benefits of wearables for E-Health innovation. From heart rate and diabetes monitoring, personal wearable devices are helping patients and caregivers better assess and manage health and wellness in a variety of contexts. However, to date, some of the practices governing the capture and use of data for E-Health monitoring have limited the expansion of innovative technologies.

For example, for years, the practices supporting blood pressure meters assumed the capture of data from a traditional blood pressure cuff. While the technology for “cuffless” blood pressure assessment has been around for a while, a true, technically validated standard was missing for data capture from cuffless meters.  Earlier cuffless devices required detailed and error-prone calibration techniques. To progress monitoring further, a new standard would be required to help disparate devices properly capture, calibrate, measure, assess, transfer, and archive blood pressure data.

Carey highlighted a new standard, developed by IEEE, which answers this call, making the capture of blood pressure data extensible much broader range of devices, enabling “cuffless” or less obtrusive blood pressure assessment and monitoring through wearable devices. The new IEEE standard brings uniformity, helps ensure safety, interoperability across devices and serves as a building block for developers that will help accelerate eHealth innovation. As Carey writes,

“IEEE 1708 was designed to set into a motion a host of positive developments with regard to wearable, unobtrusive, cuffless blood-pressure monitors. With the availability of a standardized way to evaluate and calibrate the devices, the hope is that more manufacturers will be encouraged to develop wearable, cuffless blood-pressure monitors, and more healthcare practitioners will be encouraged to use them. Further … the standard could help accelerate the adoption of the wearable, cuffless devices for more telemedicine and mobile healthcare applications. This standard may help fuel the larger trend toward predictive/preventive care that is intensifying around the world. In such ways, IEEE 1708 adds an important new dimension to the growing portfolio of IEEE standards designed to drive e-health innovation.”

The open standard for cuffless blood-pressure measurement is a perfect illustration of how the development of open standards, far from delaying innovation, play an increasingly important role as building blocks for innovation — expanding the relevance and impact of new technology through effective and practicable implementation. As Carey puts it, in effect “unlocking the benefit [of innovation] for humanity.”

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Open Standards Will Help Drive Interoperability and Good User Experience for Health and Fitness Industry

Posted on May 13th, 2015

As the development around the Internet of Things, smart devices, and wearable technology continues to explode, industries that serve end users are zeroing in on the importance of interoperability and user experience. Open Standards can play an important role in these industries.

Shutterstock, wavebreakmedia

As the development around the Internet of Things, smart devices, and wearable technology continues to explode, industries that serve end users are zeroing in on the importance of interoperability and user experience. Open Standards can play an important role in these industries, as we pointed out in a recent post featuring Kevin Meagher, VP of Lowe’s, on the role of open standards development for the interoperability of smart home devices.

In the wearables arena, the health and fitness industry represents another ripe arena for better UX and interoperability. In 2013, the health and fitness industry bosted revenues of $22.4 billion. Today, with companies like Facebook and Google handing out wearable fitness trackers as standard employee onboarding kits, fitness is not just big business but a global business priority for corporations and the insurance companies that serve them. The number of wearable fitness trackers and health monitoring devices is growing exponentially. As the number of devices proliferate, interoperability and extensibility will provide a market edge for device manufacturers, who are today becoming more concerned with how to craft a better user experience across a wide array of devices, apps, brands, locations, and use cases.

A recent press release announced that FIT-C, a non-profit organization focused on encouraging increased collaboration and enhancing user experience through technology in the fitness industry, welcomed Netpulse, a provider of branded mobile apps for health clubs, to its council. The release brought up several interesting points that connect to a wider discussion of how the need for open standards affects the particular concerns of fitness tech industry.

Kelly Sweeny, head of business development at Netpulse, referred to open standards’ uniting influence directly in her press release quote:

“The fitness industry has evolved tremendously over the last several years. This is a perfect time for us to focus on creating open standards that unite and empower club owners, vendors, and members to reach their goals.”

By joining the council at FIT-C, Netpulse shows a recognition of the same collaborative spirit that guides the OpenStand Principles of cooperation, collective empowerment, and voluntary adoption. John Ford, CEO at Netpulse, also focused on this in the press release, saying:

“To bring the best services to our apps and screens, we integrate with the best companies in the industry. None of this works well without the open and collaborative industry that FIT-C is driving.”

As the IoT continues to evolve and the effects of the new technology influence a wider range of industries at a personal user level, we are seeing more specific examples of the critical influence of open standards development.

You can join us in supporting the OpenStand Principles by signing the petition to Stand With Us, and be sure to let us know in the comments if you’ve seen examples of how open standards are affecting other industries and end users.

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10-year Review of WSIS Report References OpenStand Initiative

Posted on May 7th, 2015

OpenStand is pleased to share that the OpenStand Initiative received a recent mention in the newly-published report, Ten-year Review of Progress Made in the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, prepared by the secretariat of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).

Shutterstock, blackdogvfx

OpenStand is pleased to share that it has received a recent mention in the newly-published report, Ten-year Review of Progress Made in the Implementation of the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, prepared by the secretariat of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD).

The report purposes to assist the Commission in considering the outcomes of the founding WSIS documents that set out a vision of a people-centered, inclusive, and development-oriented information society, whose members would enhance the opportunities and quality of life for people worldwide and facilitate sustainable development. The report was requested by the United Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and will be noted and used at the UN General Assembly.

The OpenStand Initiative is named and described under the “Internet Principles Since WSIS” section of the document, where it notes OpenStand as one of a number of initiatives to have received widespread attention. The document states that:

“The OpenStand initiative, developed by the Internet technical bodies including ISOC, the IETF, IAB, W3C and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), seeks to promote and maintain market-driven open, borderless standards for Internet development based on commitments to technical merit; interoperability, competition, innovation and benefit to humanity, and on voluntary adoption, which it believes have underpinned the successful development of the Internet to date.”

Raising awareness of our shared values and commitment to openness, transparency, cooperation, and empowerment has been a major focus of the OpenStand initiative.You can see the OpenStand principles here, and join with us by signing your name to support them here. We’re glad to be listed in this very important document, and look forward to following the influence and outcomes of the UN General Assembly and the World Summit on the Information Society’s (WSIS) 10-year Review that will take place at the end of December this year.

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Dave Ward: The Critical Connections Between Open Standards & Open Source

Posted on April 22nd, 2015

Dave Ward, of the OpenStand advocates at Cisco, recently addressed the connection between open standards and open source with the intention of opening up a conversation around the topic.
Shutterstock, isak55

In a recent presentation at one of the Internet Engineering Task Force’s (IETF) Lunch Speaker Series sessions, Dave Ward, an OpenStand Advocate at CISCO, addressed the connection between open standards and open source, with the intention of opening up a conversation around the topic.

The reality of the importance of this dialog became evident after Ward jumped into the open source space after spending decades in the open standards world, finding the two camps very different. In an era where new Open Source Consortiums (OSS) are being started daily to expedite innovation, it’s important to acknowledge that the cycle time of an OSS and a SDO are fundamentally different. Yet, as Ward argues, they can be complementary to each other. Where some experts dismiss or disregard the role of SDOs in an open source era, Ward asserts that standards bodies must exist to ensure the functionality of the Internet. Without open standards, Ward says the Internet would become a “Tower of Babel” where nothing would function in an interoperable way.

In the current technological climate, Ward says, “There are a lot of people coding and not standardizing, and a lot of people standardizing and maybe coding afterwards.” This creates two fundamentally different vantage points. Ward sees a danger within the open source camp, which is the “co-opting of open source and the lack of governance” which will result in security flaws, smaller communities, and fragmentation and asserts that “APIs and frameworks will be the future standards for software and network-driven architectures.”

Ward went further to argue that the two differing camps need each other, stating the OSS cycle time can create a market-based consensus to fill a standards void. In tandem, rapid innovation necessitates standards development, making SDOs integral and critical part of open source development.

He highlights the below quote from the IETF:

“If open APIs become the de facto definition of interoperability requirements, the role of standardization bodies and the opportunity for operators to influence specifications diminishes. As a result, the functional interoperability (and interchangeability) of vendors and devices will decrease, potentially leading to a more proprietary and less open and global nature of the internet.”

In order to be successful, a collaborative loop must exist between SDOs and OSS. Open source bodies, like the  Linux, Apache, OpenStack and Eclipse foundations have this collaboration built in.

An excellent resource for further study on the topic of SDOs and OSSs, which much of the content he discusses is based upon, can be found in IETF’s recently published draft, Operators and the IETF in the Culture section. Ward suggests that everyone read this.

Ward’s belief in the necessity of standards organizations like OpenStand means a lot to those of us who are working daily to raise awareness about the need for open standards. You can advocate for open standards, as well, by joining our growing community of OpenStand Advocates.

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ISOC Introduces New Concept on Collaborative Security

Posted on April 16th, 2015

Olaf Kolkmann of the Internet Society issued a powerful call to action regarding cybersecurity, asking for Collaborative Security to improve the security of the Internet.
Shutterstock, Sergey Nivens

This week saw the advent of a powerful call to action regarding internet security issues on The Internet Society’s (ISOC) blog, where Chief Internet Technology Officer Olaf Kolkman asks the following questions regarding cyber security:

How do we enable people to trust in the security of their communication and connections across the Internet while ensuring the Internet remains open and accessible?

How do we keep confidence at such a level that businesses are happy to offer their products and services online, that journalists will feel confident that they can do their work in the more dangerous places on the planet, and that a kid from Bangladesh can invent a new application that can make the current favorite tools and services irrelevant?

Cyber security and the debates surrounding it, posits Kolkman, can make it easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. While there are nuances that need to be considered for various scenarios, it’s important to recognize that security issues can become amplified into cybersecurity issues simply by being connected to the Internet, where businesses and individuals accept the increased risks and liabilities of attack along with the increased reach and potential of internet presence.

For this reason, says Kolkman, “It is important to dissect the cybersecurity debate into palatable pieces, recognize that all these pieces interact, and be careful about what we talk about.”

The weaknesses of the Internet’s collaborative, open, and democratic environment correspond to it’s greatest strengths and potential. This, Kolkman believes, is a clue to the solution: “When you are on the network you are also part of the network. The reality is that comprehensive Internet security only comes through the efforts of many different people collaborating together to take action to help ensure the security, resilience and stability of the global Internet.”

To this end, Kolkman’s article introduces a new paradigm for approaching Collaborative Security to frame the discussion around “how we think we, as a society, should be tackling these challenging issues to bring about a better and a stronger Internet.”

Collaborative Security is made up of five key points:

  1. Fostering confidence and protecting opportunities: The objective of security is to foster confidence in the Internet and to ensure the continued success of the Internet as a driver for economic and social innovation.
  2. Collective Responsibility: Internet participants share a responsibility towards the system as a whole.
  3. Fundamental Properties and Values: Security solutions should be compatible with fundamental human rights and preserve the fundamental properties of the Internet – the Internet Invariants.
  4. Evolution and Consensus: Effective security relies on agile evolutionary steps based on the expertise of a broad set of stakeholders.
  5. Think Globally, act Locally: It is through voluntary bottom-up self-organization that the most impactful solutions are likely to reached.

Aligned with the OpenStand principles, ISOC is carrying a strong message of support for open standards development approaches to cybersecurity. Kolkman even notes that “specifically since the deployment of open standards is voluntary, and not mandated…creating the standards is only the first part of the equation; we must also make sure those standards can and will be implemented.”

Collaborative action is one of the greatest strengths of the internet environment, and has already shown some effectiveness when applied to cybersecurity efforts; Kolkman cites the example of Cyber-security response teams (CERTS and CSIRTS) who realized years ago that their strength was multiplied by collaboration: “Through organizations such as the Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST), these teams are showing the elements of “collaborative security” in action on a daily basis.”

Just as the principles of collaboration, community, and global interaction are necessary to foster the greatest successes and experiments of a connected world, ISOC believes that “For the Internet to continue to be this global engine of growth…that allows communication and creativity to blossom, we need to work together collaboratively to improve the security of the Internet and ensure that users can have confidence that their communication and information across the Internet can be secure.”

Kolkman closes his post with a powerful call for internet participants to take responsibility, inspect their spheres of influence and networks, and to implement a process of active inquiry and collaboration into their internet practices.

You can read the Internet Society’s full Collaborative Security Statement here.

Do you think collaboration is the key to turning the greatest weakness of cybersecurity into its greatest source of strength? What questions should internet participants be asking to increase collaboration and support security? We’d love to hear from you on this important topic in the comments.

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ZDNet: Data Centers That Leverage Open Standards Are Better

Posted on April 8th, 2015

It’s no secret that enterprise technology and corporate reliance on critical systems is growing exponentially. Data centers need to scale just as fast, exposing the need for open standards.

Image: Shutterstock, hywards

It’s no secret that enterprise technology and corporate reliance on critical systems is growing exponentially. Data centers need to scale just as fast to keep up with demand, service times, and security, while meeting increasing expectations with regard to speed and capability.

We discussed how geographic infrastructure is boosted by open standards a few weeks ago. In a more recent article for ZDNet,  Ram Lakshminarayanan points to Intel’s leadership in forming the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) in 2010, which now boasts over 300 member organizations.  Lakshminarayanan points to this as recognition of the critical role open standards are playing in maintaining interoperability in data center optimization:

“[The] ODCA hopes to simplify the selection of cloud services and data centre solutions by creating a set of standard user-based models and reference designs. These usage models cover a broad range of topics , including infrastructure, security, commercial, carbon, compliance, management and services, data, and portability.”

Some of the recent rise in industry cloud adoption may be an indication that “scaling cloud infrastructure to meet business needs is simpler when employing open standards.” When major players, like Intel, advocate for and develop open standards, the action generates more positive and enthusiastic development from others. According to Lakshminarayanan, this is true in data center optimization as well as other core technologies:

“…embracing software-defined infrastructure concepts for storage and networking will help create the building blocks necessary to deliver standards-based solutions. Intel’s Infrastructure Builders program provides detailed reference architectures for building proven, interoperable cloud solutions, while the company’s Cloud Finder portal helps businesses identify and evaluate cloud service providers supporting the open standard vision.”

With support from industry leaders like Intel, open standards are helping to deliver better and more interoperable systems to make business infrastructure more scalable, secure, and efficient.

Become an OpenStand advocate to stand in support of this kind of cooperation and collective empowerment.

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World Standards Day Points to Progress and Opportunities in 2015

Posted on March 31st, 2015

World Standards Day 2014 showed that much has been accomplished in the area of open standards--and there is still much progress to be made in 2015.

Source: Shutterstock, Macrovector

In this article, written in celebration of World Standards Day, held on October 14, 2014, Daniel Dardailler, Associate Chair of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), asserts that much has been accomplished in the area of open standards and there is still much progress to be made. Dardailler remarks that open standards have helped the Internet enter the realm of becoming “a first class public service. Much like people can take a public bus to go from some street to a stadium, they can also use Wifi, IP, TCP, HTTP, HTML, etc, to go from one place on the net to another.”

Dardailler adds that, as we celebrate World Standards and the many accomplishments that have been made in the realm of open internet standards, there is still progress to be made. Just as governments support the many necessary infrastructures of a society, like transportation, they have the opportunity to play a significant role in supporting digital standards.

Dardailler points out that this progress is being made, even despite limited funding: “W3C and IETF specifications have recently been made legally referenceable by government policies and procurements in Europe for instance, which proves our seriousness in this business.”

To continue forward progress and increasing available public funding is desirable. However, securing such funding is not without it’s challenges. Public funding has been available for the internet and web throughout history, in the form of R&D grants. However, the competition for R&D money is fierce due to the needs of industries, commercial interests, research labs and academia. Dardailler conveys the importance of government funding to enable progress in developing the Open Web Platform.

Read more here.

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Open Standards & Open Source: Not the Same, But On the Same Team

Posted on March 25th, 2015

An ongoing dialog surrounding open source development practices has started which is integral to a broader discussion connected to open standards.

Image: Shutterstock, kentoh

The OpenStand Principles embrace openness, transparency, cooperation, and voluntary adoption in a manner that is very compatible with the open source community. As a key player in this community, the Linux Foundation’s missions states that “open collaboration powers everything.” This has initiated an ongoing dialog surrounding open source development practices that is integral to a broader discussion connected to open standards.

Glyn Moody of Computerworld’s Open Enterprise blog spoke with the Linux Foundation’s Executive Director, Jim Zemlin on this very topic. The ecosystem of the Linux Foundation, embraces collaborative innovation, which includes standards development. However, in this interview Zemlin asserts that open source is overwriting the need for open standards.  According to Zemlin:

“The largest form of collaboration in the tech industry for 20 years was at standards development organisations – IEEE, ISO, W3C, these things – where in order for companies to interoperate, which was a requirement in tech, they would create a specification, and everyone would implement that. The tech sector is moving on to a world where, in the Internet of things [for example], do you want to have a 500-page specification that you hand to a light bulb manufacturer, or do you want source code that you can hand to that manufacturer that enables interoperability? I think that’s a permanent fixture. People have figured out for a particular non-differentiating infrastructure, they want to work on that through open source, rather than creating a spec.

This is a major shift in the way that the technology world operates. Instead of trying to pin down in a specification how a new set of common standards will operate, leaving each company to implement those specifications as they see fit – perhaps with variable compatibility among them – we are moving to a world where the new standard is represented by open source code that both defines that standard, and does 99% of the work of implementing it.”

If he’s right, Zemlin’s statement either represents a major shift in the way that the technology world operates, or a re-definition of what standards of the future will become — or both.  We suspect this is only the beginning of the dialog.  How should open standards players embrace and accommodate open source development?  As Moody points out, is there a way for open source and open standards to work together instead of potentially working in conflict with each other?   If so, what should this look like?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Executive Believes Smart Homes Need Open Standards

Posted on March 18th, 2015

Video: Gigaom

The Lowe’s store around the corner may seem like an unlikely influencer of open standards, but Kevin Meagher, the VP and GM of Lowes’ Smart Home Division, was brushing elbows with IoT technologists at Gigaom’s Structure Connect Conference last fall, speaking on a panel with Joanne Domeniconi, co-founder of The Grommet, and Kif Leswing of Gigaom. The discussion underscores the need for OpenStand’s principles of openness, availability, and voluntary adoption in the world of smart home devices.

As the IoT begins to expand, retailers like Lowe’s have become key players in the sales of smart home devices. This gives brick and mortar retailers with relationships to smart home vendors an interest in participating and influencing the standards that govern these devices. With an eye on device use, data sharing and interoperability, retailers like Lowe’s have new skin in this game. According to Meagher, the smart home market can only grow if devices can interact, stating, “We believe fiercely in open standards. Everyone needs to open up their APIs.”

Meagher admitted that while Lowe’s may not be a trusted technology brand, they are a trusted consumer retailer. Customers come to Lowe’s to solve precisely the same problems the IoT seeks to resolve.  “Customers don’t care as much about how a device does what it does, as they do about the value proposition,” Meagher said. An individual customer may not be able to articulate it, but they are looking for machine-to-machine (M2M) communication where smart home devices are able to communicate with each other without human interference. They want a seamless experience across devices. Open standards are necessary in order to facilitate this. OpenStand covered this in previous blog post.

We’ve embedded the panel discussion above for your convenience. While the session raises important privacy and data sharing questions related to open API and third-party access to data produced by smart home devices, we applaud the energy and intentionality that Lowe’s and other smart home thought leaders are putting into open standards.

What are your thoughts on the need for open standards in the sphere of smart home devices? We’d love to hear them in the comments below! To join us an advocate for the five core principles for open standards development, please sign your name to show your support.

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Is “Ubernet” Threatening the Internet and Open Standards?

Posted on March 11th, 2015

Is the future of the internet a “walled garden” scenario? It isn’t infeasible. While the “Ubernet” may be a possible outcome of the future, it doesn't have to be our destiny.
Photo: Shutterstock, Sergey Nivens

The Internet Society (ISOC), a leading global standards development organization and an OpenStand affirming partner, recently responded to an article from The Economist which predicted a future internet that looks more like a series of sealed-off app stores, separated by walls of proprietary security. According to ISOC, while this “walled garden” scenario isn’t infeasible, it doesn’t have to be our destiny.

Karen Rose, the Senior Director in the office of Strategy and Research at ISOC, writes that she and her team identified this very scenario in some planning exercises around the health and future of the Internet a few years ago when they wanted to find some answers to two key questions: “Will the world embrace or resist the open Internet model?” and “What model will be more successful? Command and control? Or, distributed and decentralized?”

This planning exercise identified four possible scenarios for the future of the Internet:

  1. Moats and Drawbridges: A heavily centralized internet dominated by a few big players.
  2. Boutique Networks: A separated internet with self-interested factions collaborating to control small sectors.
  3. Porous Garden: Networks would remain global, but access to content and services would be tightly controlled.
  4. Common Pool: An uninhibited, open internet.

These potential scenarios were defined over five years ago and it’s clear how each scenario could have become reality, and in some areas of the world, have become a present reality. Developments and innovations over the past five-plus years across the technical, economic, and political landscape have sometimes challenged the open Internet, but, as Rose writes, “over the years…the most constant characteristic of the Internet has been the pace of change.”

This fast pace of change and growth has been facilitated by a set of principles now known as the OpenStand Principles.  According to Rose:

…The Internet Society believes that there are key properties that need to be preserved as part of its ongoing evolution (including openness, interoperability, open standards, and its multi-stakeholder model of development) which will enable the Internet to continue to serve as a platform for seemingly limitless innovation.

While the “Ubernet” may be a possible outcome of the future, that doesn’t indicate it’s likely.

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