During the 2020 International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) Ray Walshe was one of the moderators for the session on ICT standards for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which covered topics including education and 5G.

Walshe is Lead Editor for the Big Data Reference Architecture standard developed by ISO/IEC JTC1 SC 42. He is also involved in other standards groups for the UN, European Commission and IEEE.

Information and communication technologies have the potential to improve quality of life in many areas, such as education and training, healthcare, manufacturing and infrastructure.  

Artificial intelligence (AI) and big data systems can help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), which currently require global action to address climate change, poverty and the development of smart, efficient cities and resilient economies. Find out more about the work of standards development organizations in the paper AI and Big Data Standardization: Contributing to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

“As digital technologies, such as AI, big data, the Internet of Things and cloud computing evolve, they will create new services, products and opportunities. However, enterprises will need to ensure innovation, structure, quality, scalability and interoperability are the core of business, to benefit from these developments. One way to achieve this is by using international standards,” said Walshe.

Achieving quality education for all

Erlend Overby, Chair of ISO/IEC SC 36 which develops international standards for Learning, Education and Training (ITLET), discussed the importance of having interoperable, secure IT tools for education and training, and how standards can help reach this goal. Read full coverage.  

The education sector wasn’t ready for COVID 19, which forced schools, universities and training institutions to go online overnight. The learning curve has been steep, but the pandemic has raised awareness of how IT can help education and that people can learn anywhere, so long as they have access to technology and teachers who are prepared to teach them virtually.

“In the longer run we’ll see the huge benefits of technology that supports teachers, students, parents and schools by providing tools that can be tailored to specific needs. There will be more vendors of educational IT tools and apps, more data being produced and more students. The ecosystem will need to have commonalities and we will need standards to ensure these tools are interoperable across institutions.”

5G and standards

Olatunji Osunji spoke about using standards to mitigate ICT risks in sustainable development. Osunji is from the School of Business and Technology, Virginia US.

Of the 17 SDGs, 11 have a positive correlation with digital access. “Digital risk management must be part of what we do to achieve SDGs. With increased cyber crime, if we don’t ensure risk management we won’t be able to help the people we are aiming to reach with the SDGs.”

Osunji recommended the development and mandatory audit of standards for 5G standards which should cover the entire lifecycle, and introduce certification mechanism for manufacturers, suppliers and integrators.

5G supports billions of IoT and mobile devices, but the area in which it will have the greatest impact according to Osunji is manufacturing and automation, where the speed with which data can be transmitted would be key.

About ICSD

The International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD) was established in 2013 to provide academia, government, civil society, UN agencies, and the private sector with the opportunity to share practical solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The ICSD 2020 two-day event included 14 sessions, 10 panels and other side events, which covered diverse topics such as education, job opportunities and clean energy transition, multilateral financing for SDGs in Africa and Asia (examples), ICT standards for the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction for cities, food production, waste management and the circular economy, land use and industrial animal agriculture and much more.