Monday, February 18, 2008

Before you create a new standard....

Standards create problems. There are way too many of them, and closely-related standards are a source confusion. Often, IP (intellectual property) encumbers standards. Standards often disappear, greatly inconviencing adopters. "Big" standards tend to be dominated by powerful and wealthy corporations and often impose requirements that cannot reasonably be met by small companies or by individuals.

Before embarking on a new standard, committees should try to answer all of these questions:

1. Is there a pre-existing standard that covers the same technology?

2. If there is a pre-existing standard, can it be enhanced or modified to provide a desired functionality?

3. How much will it cost to develop the standard?

4. How long will the standards development process take?

5. Will the intended beneficiaries of the standard pay for the standards development process?

6. Who will develop the standard? Are the selected developers competent to produce an adequate standard?

7. Are any of the developers conflicted? Do they stand to profit if the standard is developed in a specific way?

8. Do any of the developers have proprietary software or data that they may wish to include in the standard?

9. Are the expected developers committed to work through the duration of the standards development process, and are they committed to providing all of the time and energy needed to develop the standard?

10. Will there be a mechanism whereby drafts of the standard are reviewed openly by the public? Will the minutes of the working committee be made public? Will public comments be used to modify successive drafts of the standard?

11. Will the standard have dependencies on other standards? If so, are there intellectual property issues that must be resolved before development begins? Will these issues require licenses or royalty agreements from the standards developers or the standards users?

12. Once created, is the standard likely to be adopted? Is the anticipated standard easily implemented?

13. Who will be the adopters of the standard? Are the expected standard adopters included in the development process for the standard?

14. Will the standard benefit a range of users beyond the standards developers?

15. What are the hazards that the standard may produce, and who might be hurt by the standard? In particular, will any entities be disadvantaged if they cannot readily adopt the standard?

16. Is it necessary to have the standard approved by an external organization?

17. If so, who will pay for the extra costs of obtaining approval from an external standards organization?

18. Will the standard need to be continuously updated and modified? Is there a planned process for producing multiple versions of the standard?

19. Is it really important to have the standard? Is it worth the effort?

Issues related to the development of new standards are discussed at length in my book, Biomedical Informatics.

-Jules Berman
My book, Principles of Big Data: Preparing, Sharing, and Analyzing Complex Information was published in 2013 by Morgan Kaufmann.

I urge you to explore my book. Google books has prepared a generous preview of the book contents.

tags: big data, metadata, data preparation, data analytics, data repurposing, datamining, data mining, medical standards