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IV. ACTION LINE 3.1:

APPLICATION OF STANDARDS AND SPECIFICATIONS / QUALITY ASSURANCE



1. SETTING THE SCENE

Consistent application of standards in the production and distribution of information products and services is a key element of improved European-wide access to information from a variety of terminal equipment. The OSI initiatives that establish rules for the application of standards in the telecommunication area must be complemented by similar actions to establish rules for the application of standards in the provision of information products and services.

The advent of higher bandwidth telecommunication networks and the introduction of cheap mass storage optical media will stimulate the development of multimedia information products in the near future. The Open Information Interchange initiative (OII) must be viewed as a framework for the application of the basic existing standards for coding text, pictures, sound, video and document structure that will become increasingly important for the development of multimedia systems.

OII promotes the use of standards for information encoding so that information in electronic form can be easily exchanged between different applications and environments.

It offers the communication platform for greater user involvement in the standardisation planning process.

Quality assurance for information products and services must be based on clear, measurable specifications, describing what a service has to offer and what a client can expect. Work has started to define the quality of software and of telecommunication services. It needs to be complemented by specifications for information services that could become a standard as soon as it will be widely accepted by the users and providers.

2. SUMMARY OF ACTION AREAS

The actions launched in this area have three main objectives :

3. SCOPE OF ACTIONS

Outcome from previous work requires permanent updating, because work items with great market interest develop rapidly within standardisation organisations.

Activities in 1995 will continue and extend the actions begun in 1994 and concentrate on the following areas:

3.1 Development of guidelines for the use of standards

Standards texts need to be complemented by a survey of existing products and services and case studies of implementation with a description of the problems encountered and their solution. Standards often contain different options for implementation. Therefore, the different user groups like product developers and/or end users need guidance which will be provided by a series of handbooks on standard implementation for open information interchange. Specific attention will be given to standards for multimedia developments like scripting languages and delivery of multimedia objects like image and sound (MHEG). Information on standardisation activities for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will also be included in OII.

3.2 Awareness

Standards for multimedia are developed by different groups. Some groups have an academic background like the Text Encoding Initiative, which has developed a set of SGML Data Type Definitions. Another example is the techniques developed by research organisations for the World Wide Web for open information interchange within the academic world. Some of these developments emerge from non commercial environments. Therefore critical issues like the protection of intellectual property rights are not addressed properly. These problems could be solved by better communication at an early stage between the developers of standards and the future users. The key problem is lack of communication and awareness between the different groups.

3.3 Quality Assurance for information products and services

The standards defined in ISO 9000 give general guidelines to achieve quality of services, but for specific areas like information products and services specifications are needed.

On the basis of recommendations of the Workshop held on 8 June 1994 the following actions will be undertaken:

The discussions following the Workshop have identified the requirement for new standards to support the development of specifications and the application of formal quality procedures in the information services industry. It is, therefore, necessary to: This will be accompanied by a number of awareness activities including: The aims and objectives are:

4. EXPLOITING SYNERGIES

The Commission is a major actor in supporting standardisation as a means to better European economic integration. The OII actions are complementary to DG III and DG XIII standardisation activities at the infrastructure level (OSI), in RTD, and in specific commercial areas (TEDIS for EDI). OII actions are being co-ordinated with those actions and carried out in conjunction with institutions such as CEN/CENELEC, EWOS and ETSI.

5. INTERACTION WITH THE MARKET

The Open Information Interchange initiative is designed to facilitate market development by improving the flow of technical and commercial information between the users, the information providers and the IT industry developers who provide the tools needed to generate advanced information services and products. The increased speed of technical development and the demand by users for rapid application of cheaper, more effective technologies, creates difficulties for information providers. Standardisation at the earliest opportunity consistent with commercial considerations requires new methods for developing and testing technical advances in the marketplace, and initiatives like OII to promote their use in specific industries.

6. REVIEW, EVALUATION AND FINAL RESULTS

A prime objective of OII preliminary activities has been to involve the different actors in the information chain in the development of a workplan. The workplan is designed to continue this involvement through public workshops that both inform on progress and provide a forum for comment, through the use of advisory groups drawn from the industry to advise on specific actions, and through the use of the information service to generate feedback from the OII community on results.

The need for awareness actions for standards is now well established, and the dialogue between the actors is under way.

A series of handbooks and a monthly magazine (OII Spectrum) are published to provide advice on the use of OII standards.

Broad interest in Quality Assurance issues is emerging.

In addition to the obvious interest of users of information services in this issue, industrial associations like EUSIDIC and standards bodies are participating in the definition of specifications for information products and services leading to more transparent offers.

7. IMPLEMENTATION AND BUDGET

  Activity              Commitment     Commitment     Commitment    Commitment    Estimated  Areas                 
91 Budget in   92 Budget in   93 Budget in  94 Budget in  95 Budget in                        ECU       %    ECU       
%    ECU       %   ECU       %   ECU        %  7.1 Development        -      100   132,950   55   100,000   25   
250,000  72   150,000   42   of guidelines  7.2 User Involvement,  -       -    107,000   45   250,000   63    50,000  
14   100,000   29  Awareness  7.3 Quality Assurance  -       -      -        -    50,000   12    50,000  14   100,000   
29  TOTAL               204,656   100   239,950  100   400,000  100   350,000 100   350,000  100  

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