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Standards for an URBANAGE: Navigating the Standardisation Landscape

URBANAGE's initial standardisation plan explores the standards landscape against the need of complex local digital twins.

There are many reasons to use standards for building complex ICT solutions like Digital Twins. Many of these reasons lie in robustness, interoperability and transferability. In some well-proven domains, it is obvious not to reinvent the wheel, and some standards are considered no brainers (e.g. HTML or WMS, WFS for geospatial representation). On the one hand, with standards, we talk about core IT standards like DCAT, WMS, CityGML. These standards are subject independent. On the other hand, data standardisation can be more considered as tasks related to giving meaning to data to realise semantic interoperability. Examples are the semantic web standards, SAREF, NGSI-LD and also Inspire data specifications. URBANAGE's standard report covers both.


Early chapters focus on the standards which are no brainers and needs to be well considered to build a state of the art solution usable in different circumstances of the three URBANAGE pilots and beyond. However, the real motivation for using standards is that the URBANAGE consortium believes that innovation also lies in how disruptive technologies can only cooperate successfully when they cooperate in a well-designed way, implying the re-use of standards.


The URBANAGE approach is to start supply driven by studying relevant standardisation bodies in web, geospatial, smart city, IoT, Big Data and data-infrastructure fields. Starting from generic worldwide active organisations like W3C, ISO and OGC, we also looked at more EU oriented standardisation organisations and standard related organisations. The latter is less focused on the standard development itself but on promoting end-user oriented and solution-related best practices. Also, the EU itself has a tradition of supporting standardisation organisations. Some of them, like ISA², CEN and ETSI, have a close relationship with the EU and offer interesting standards worth scrutinising in the Digital Twin context.


Starting from these organisations supply, relevant standards were investigated in the relevant domains of the URBANAGE architecture. In the IoT domain, Linked Data Event Streams look very promising. Metadata is a second category with well-established standards in the open and geospatial fields. The standards by ISO², W3C and Inspire (EC) are quite well integrated and well established. In the AI field, standardisation initiatives are under development. It is less clear how and which standards will be applied.


The use of AI in the project pilots was not yet well known when writing the plan at the start of the project. The Big Data related architecture and standards will be based on the promising NBDIF interoperability framework. The proposed security standards like SAML and OAuth2.0, and OpenID are quite generic standards for identification (authentication and authorisation). For data visualisation and presentation, including ergonomics and human-system interaction, the ISO 9241 standards will be applied.


The next step of the methodology is finding out if some of the crucial standards to be adopted need any adaptation to make them better usable (both in URBANAGE and the standardisation community). Depending on the standardisation body, membership is required to be able to contribute. A membership inventory was made in the plan. Half of the consortium partner, including most technical and pilot partners, is a member of at least one relevant Initial organisation. Only a few partners have experience with the standardisation work itself. Based on the experience of participating in standardisation initiatives of some of the SDO’s it became clear that an end to end standardisation process often exceeds the project duration. For that reason, a long-term commitment of the partner participating in a (new) standardisation initiative is necessary. In that context, URBANAGE will focus on the core standards itself and more data and ontology related standards (e.g. NGSI-LD) and the implementation of concepts like the OASC MIM’s (Minimal Interoperability Mechanisms).


The initial standardisation plan may be accessed here.


An update on how the project leveraged standards will be provided in the coming year.


- Author: Digitaal Vlaanderen

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