Our Standards Coordination work package serves to achieve the following EC objective: Increase European software standardization efforts in Software Engineering, Services and Cloud Computing.
For a few years now, the EC DG Connect Unit E.2 has paid particular attention to the coordination between the R&D projects they fund and the ICT Standardisation Development Organisations potentially active in their areas.
This is a very good trend from the point of view of the SDOs themselves, which are not only interested in the coordination between SDOs – W3C has a long-standing activity on international liaisons, witness by its public Liaisons page listing all its “partners” SDOs – but also by the pre-standardization aspects, that is, the coordination between SDOs and advanced developers using the latest standard technologies, while at the same time evolving them, usually through new requirements.
One important thing to understand, which has been outlined several time in past EC declarations, is that in the ICT software area, and in particular on the Internet and Web platform, innovation and standardisation happen roughly at the same time, given the openness of the system and the easiness to change it from the inside. The time between the first definition by an R&D lab of a new API to access some new sensor/infoset, and the inclusion of this API into a revised global standard such as HTML5 or CSS3 has come down to a few months or years, whereas it used to be a few decades. Such an order of magnitude change in transfer time between research and standard is made possible in Internet and Web land because the research engineers defining new APIs can very easily make it “fit” in the global open standard ecosystem, not just because of its openness (all APIs are published for free, IPR free for most) but because of the openness of the SDOs which welcome them as early as possible in their groups.
W3C has created various instruments to the effect of facilitating transfert of knowledge between R&D and Standardisation, which have been presented in past EC project reports, and that we will summarize below:
- Community Group, or CG, which are open forum, without fees, where Web developers and other stakeholders such as researchers, can develop specifications, and connect with W3C’s international community of Web experts. CG is a great way to do early standardization work in W3C for EU-funded project, independently of the official standard track dynamics, and without having to get the endorsement of the rest of the W3C membership and community, while using the W3C tools and pool of experts know-how;
- Multi-partner research membership, which allows government-funded, time-limited, and unincorporated (such as an EU-funded Project) project to join W3C and be considered a regular W3C “Membership organization”. This is specifically tailored to EC projects that wants to keep a tighter control on the work they submit to W3C as a potential new standard, by giving them a peer position in our standardisation community with the same rights to influence the future standards as the largest industrial players such as Google, IBM or Facebook.
W3C believes that early input from R&D projects contribute greatly to keeping our Open Web Platform relevant in the future. The threat of going back to a world of proprietary platforms, whether at the OS level (e.g. incompatible native apps on Android or IoS) or at the meta application levels (e.g. the walled garden of social networking environment) can be weaken substantially if we make sure the future killer application of ICT are built on top of the Open Web and that they operate best as such.
Cloud, IoT, Big Data, all fall in that category of R&D topics which requires a solid basis of open standards to deliver their full potential, but are not there yet in terms of organisation (who does what, with which IPR, process, etc). One of our goal in this work-package, in our quality of SDO, is therefore to educate the R&D community involved in the Software and Cloud areas – where the active SDOs are legions – on the importance of the Open Standardisation paradigm, as recently expressed in the OpenStand principles.
In doing that, a further objective is to specifically assist projects involved in pre-standardisation activities related to the Web platform to use the instruments described above, and make sure that the output of the project can survive the lifetime of the funding.
For more information on our recent activities (Concertation meeting slides, list of projects involved in Web), please see the WP3.1 first report.