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The Value of Standards

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Speech - ITSC PlugFest 2004 Forum & Exhibition: Better Living Through Connectivity, Stamford Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre

Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Chief Executive Officer
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Speech - ITSC PlugFest 2004 Forum & Exhibition: Better Living Through Connectivity, Stamford Ballroom, Raffles City Convention Centre
Singapore, 19 March 2004

Mr Wilson Tan, Chairman, IT Standards Committee
Mr Robert Chew, Deputy Chairman, IT Standards Committee
Dr Francis Yeoh, Chairman, ITSC PlugFest 2004 Organising Committee
Distinguished Speakers, Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. I am delighted to be here with you this morning at ITSC PlugFest 2004. It brightens up my day to see the myriad of colours that adorn the foyer. Even the name "PlugFest" conveys a festive mood.

2. ITSC PlugFest, when first launched in 2002, created a buzz in the local Infocomm scene. ITSC PlugFest was mooted as a neutral platform for interoperability testing. It was the first of its kind for Singapore and a breakaway from the traditional standardisation activities that we are used to. In this year's PlugFest, I understand that several pioneer participants from 2002 are back again. In fact, we have more participants this year! I would like to commend ITSC for taking this huge leap of faith in introducing new concepts to infocomm standardisation. Being an industry-led effort, the ITSC has clearly paved a new path for Singapore infocomm industry; by leveraging on standards to increase the global competitiveness of our companies, and raise Singapore's infocomm profile.

3. IDA supports and co-organises the ITSC PlugFest 2004 event as we believe that through interoperability events like this, we can help to encourage the use of standards by local companies and build capabilities in infocomm standardisation. Standards play an integral role in the advancement of new technologies for the community, especially in allowing our local products and services to extend their reach into the global market.

Infocomm Standardisation in Singapore

4. Singapore is a small country with a relatively short history of research and development. While we are not currently a major originator of new standards, we certainly hope to harness the value of standards better. Perhaps because we do not have strong vested interests, the ITSC is quite unique in playing its role of championing ICT standardisation for our local industry. ITSC does not confine itself to adopting and adapting the standards of any one body. Infocomm is a very large field, and many standards organisations exist. For example, the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) produces standards for the telecommunication industry to enable the development of neutral tools that can facilitate communication and data exchange around the world. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) develops standards in a broad-range of industries, e.g. telecommunications, transportation, healthcare and IT. As such, ITSC and IDA work with various international organisations to develop infocomm standards that cater to our local industry needs but taking into account global happenings such as those in the US and Europe. One example, ITSC presented its BioAPI test programme to the JTC1/SC37 on Biometrics and has attracted keen interests from the US to work with Singapore on BioAPI1 conformance testing.

5. More recently, we are also making modest efforts, commensurate with our market size and areas of interest, in helping shape international standards. For example, in the area of Web Services, IDA co-chairs the OASIS Framework for Web Services Implementation (FWSI) Technical Committee, set up in September 2003. We break new grounds by being the first Asian country to partner with OASIS, an international standards consortium, to lead in creating an international Web Services standard.

6. Another programme, the IDA-Intel Wireless Hotspots and Network Internetworking Initiative, sees IDA working closely with the industry, in a multi-country and cross-industry internetworking initiative to solve the challenges of roaming between wireless hotspots and develop an interoperable, standards-based architecture that can be adopted by equipment makers and wireless service providers to offer seamless wireless connectivity. The findings and recommendations of the programme would be submitted to the relevant standards bodies when ready.

7. In yet another step, IDA together with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority; the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, and the Maritime and Port Authority, are helping to develop international standards for passports that contain biometric information. The aim is to develop interoperability standards to assist companies in the tendering and implementation of the new biometrics Machine Readable Travel Documents (MRTDs), in accordance with standards from the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and related ones by ISO (International Standards Organisation). For the infocomm industry, this project will help determine the specifications that will go into this biometric passport. Singapore's work on this area has attracted international interest as our biometrics and card experts have been invited by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to participate in an International Technical Biometrics Workshop this month to discuss on testing and evaluation of biometrics for machine readable travel documents.

8. I am also pleased to mention that our Institute for Infocomm Research is producing new technology that could potentially become an international standard in the area of audio coding, the same family of technologies that give us MP3 recordings. More specifically, I2R is working to get its scalable lossless audio coding2 technology accepted by the international standards group, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29 as part of the international MPEG-4 standard. I2R's technology was accepted by SC29 as a reference model in the initial discussion by the standards group.


9. I am happy to see the growth of ITSC PlugFest. From two technology domains in 2002, it has expanded to three domains this year. From a list of 21 successfully "plugfested" companies, the list has grown to 29 this year. Moving forward, I would like to encourage ITSC to work towards internationalising the ITSC PlugFest by working with overseas standard bodies and organisations.

10. I congratulate the companies which have successfully completed the PlugFest test and I hope to see more companies coming forward to participate.

11. Before I end, I want to say "thank you" to the organiser, ITSC, and the Organising Committee headed by Dr Francis Yeoh, for holding yet another successful event this year. This is also made possible with the strong support from the industry.

12. I would like to also thank Mr Wilson Tan, Chairman ITSC for his invaluable contribution and leadership in bringing Singapore's infocomm industry to new heights through infocomm standardisation.

13. Thank you!


1 BioAPI specification defines an application programming interface that enables software applications to interact with various biometric technology or devices.

2 The scalable coding technology would be able to provide dynamic bit-rate control during transmission, and hence able to easily manipulate the quality of the content. The lossless compression technique ensures that the decompressed data recovered after the compression process is exactly the same as the original data. In contrast, a lossy technique would result in certain amount of data loss after compression.