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IEC's E-tech Issue Highlights Living in a Smart World


Issue highlights how standardization helps achieve an effective, safe, reliable IoT, while enabling the creation of a global market

This article is re-published from Whether we realize it or not, the internet of things (IoT) is part of many aspects of daily life. Thanks to billions of connected, "sensorized" devices and systems, it can facilitate everyday activities and tasks and improve the efficiency of work processes, which saves time and money. In the case of healthcare, it can save lives and improve quality of life.

Connected everywhere

Cities and their infrastructures including transport, energy, buildings and homes are becoming smart, in order to boost energy efficiency and enhance how they function. The well-being of citizens and the economy both benefit from this.

Intelligent collaborative manufacturing systems enable businesses to respond in real time, to meet changing demands and conditions in factories, supply networks, and customer needs, while on the rural front, farmers can streamline crop and animal management, using smart phones and apps.

IoT is also changing how other industries work, such as automotive, healthcare, entertainment and retail.

In all these areas, this technology contributes toward building a more sustainable world.

The need for standards

The IoT is comprised of diverse and evolving technologies and stakeholders involved in a wide range of applications. For this reason, it is paramount to provide a minimum level of interoperability. This would allow all the components to function rapidly and reliably, as they gather, exchange and analyse vast amounts of data. IoT Standards will also facilitate the growth of IoT devices, systems and services market.

IEC and ISO Joint Technical Committee (ISO/IEC JTC 1) develops International Standards for information and communication technologies for business and consumer applications.

Given the great importance and impact of IoT, in 2016, JTC 1 established a new Subcommittee ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 41: Internet of Things and related technologies, which has consolidated and expanded the activities of former Working Groups (WG) 7 and 10. The main focus of SC 41 is to establish a standardization programme, and provide guidance to JTC 1, IEC, ISO and other entities developing IoT-related applications. Its scope also covers sensor networks and wearables technologies.

In addition to the Standards already published for sensor networks, SC 41 is developing base or horizontal Standards for IoT reference architecture, vocabulary, and interoperability. These can be used by industry and any application-related standardization technical committee, where IoT technology is used as an enabler. By ensuring consistency and avoiding duplication, businesses and manufacturers can save time, effort and money.

A year of achievements for SC 41

e-tech caught up with Francois Coallier, Chair of SC 41, to hear what has been achieved during the first year, and what's in store for 2018.

A great deal of the activity has been administrative, setting up the work structure, governance and strategic planning. All of this was done in parallel with the continuation of the technical work inherited from the former WGs, which totals 11 projects.

"We created six study groups (SG) at the first plenary: edge computing, industrial IoT, real-time IoT, trustworthiness, wearables and IoT use cases. All groups are progressing. The edge computing group was mandated to help enable the recommendations of the Edge Intelligence White Paper. Based on the recommendations of this SG, SC 41 initiated a project in this area at its last plenary meeting in New Delhi, India."

The importance of building synergies

Many players are involved in developing the component devices and systems that make up the ubiquitous IoT, as well as their related Standards. An important part of SC 41 activities will be to liaise, with other IEC technical committees (TCs) and subcommittees (SCs), as well as with other standards development organizations (SDOs) and groups within the industry. SC 41 already liaises with ISO and ITU-T, and the Advancing Identification Matters (AIM), Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC), Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), Global Language of Business (GS1), and the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE).

"We have to be systematic and work with a lot of different people, so this will be a big challenge as there are around 24 IEC TCs and SCs. For example, our edge computing work will liaise with ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38 for cloud computing and our trustworthiness study group will work with ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27 on IT security techniques, while our wearables study group will be in regular contact with IEC TC 124 which covers wearables and their technologies. Then there are our Systems Committees, for active assisted living (SyC AAL), smart cities (SyC Smart Cities) and the newly established SyC Smart Manufacturing. This year we also hope to expand our external liaisons", said Coallier.

A busy year ahead

Countless applications use IoT technology. From entertainment, communicating and purchasing goods and services, to running appliances and systems (security, heating and lighting) in homes and cars (GPS location, weather, traffic, entertainment etc.), SC 41 has a busy and varied workload, as Coallier comments below.

Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT (IIoT) essentially refers to all IoT application domains excluding the home market. This includes advanced manufacturing, healthcare, precision agriculture, smart grids and energy management, etc.

"There's plenty to do and it's important that our Standards cover the needs of these application domains properly."

Real time IoT

Many IoT systems must be able to react to events in real time. This is an attribute of a class of systems called cyber-physical systems (CPS), which are key to applications such as advanced manufacturing and smart grids.

"Work in this area is essential, for instance, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has already published documents in this area, and I'm looking forward to the recommendations of this study group."


Whether the grid, a home, a medical wearable or vehicle infotainment, connected devices and systems must be protected from cyber threats, to ensure the safety of users and security of private data, and be safe, responsive, reliable, available and resilient. IoT trustworthiness is a systems engineering concept that covers all the attributes involved in having stakeholders trust' an IoT system.

"This is a very key topic for IoT and this study group will work with other IEC subcommittees including IT security."


Wearables refers to a class of IoT devices that are worn on or implanted in the body. While there are many applications for wearables, one of them is healthcare.

"Just like in a factory, where one of the advanced manufacturing features that people are looking for is predictive maintenance for all the factory equipment, you can apply predictive maintenance to the human body. You do this by processing all the data collected by sensors in or on the body, and try to predict conditions and events as you look at how the body reacts when you walk or do fitness. Then you use this to detect patterns and a condition that may be slowly developing. There are many possibilities in this area and there will be a number of work projects for the wearables group."

Read the original article: Living in a smart world, Standardization helps achieve an effective, safe, reliable IoT, while enabling the creation of a global market on


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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