Australia risks falling behind on the creation and adoption of digital technology standards if government, industry, and the broader IT community don't work together, a new report has warned.
In its Data and Digital Standards Landscape report, Standards Australia is calling for a greater uptake of guidelines around cyber security and the use of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.
"[Standards] provide internationally agreed-upon principles and processes that allow consistency and innovation while establishing the tools and ways of doing things to support security,” the report says.
“In an increasingly competitive world, engaging internationally to influence standards setting – and working domestically to adopt relevant international standards – will ensure that Australian businesses can compete on the global scale, and will allow Australians to benefit from emerging technologies in a responsible and secure manner.”
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) provides representatives for 11 IT-specific standards committees in subject areas ranging from software engineering to blockchain and IT governance.
ACS immediate past president, Dr Ian Oppermann, is the NSW Chief Data Scientist and chair of the national joint technical committee for IT.
He sees standards as a supremely important tool for technologists – one that is often overlooked.
“Standards help make things safe, they give us systematic frameworks to think about risk, and create market opportunities,” Dr Oppermann told Information Age.
“There are important standards evolving around data sharing, artificial intelligence, digital twins, the internet of things, even blockchain, of which people in Australia are not very aware.
“This means they run the risk of reinventing things that already exist as well as creating islands of interoperability.”
At the highest level, Dr Oppermann recommends being aware of relevant standards in your field so you can avoid doubling up on any of the work that has already gone into creating them.
Understanding standards helps align language when talking about specific subjects and know in advance what technologies and methodologies will be widely adopted in the future.
One example of this is common database management language SQL which was codified as an international standard all the way back in 1987.
Standards Australia wants to see the country become an important international player when it comes to IT and digital standards.
In its Data and Digital Standards Landscape report, Standards Australia outlines opportunities for technologists to take the lead when it comes to standards.
It also recommends how government, industry, and the IT community in general can help influence international standards development by analysing where Australia’s voice is heard in areas of national interest, as well as ensuring local representatives attend international standardisation meetings.
The national standards body also recommends organisations consider implementing data and digital standards where relevant.
“Industry can benefit from utilising standards that represent international practice and promote internationally interoperable and compatible products and systems,” the report says.
ACS currently has a vacant representative position in the National IT-038 Cloud Computing Committee.
If you're interesting in getting involved, send your expression of interest and an up-to-date resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.