The impact of cybersecurity in the energy industry

Cyber resilience is a challenge for organizations globally and for the electricity industry in particular. Power systems are among the most complex and critical of all infrastructure types and act as the backbone of economic activity.

Large-scale incidents such as blackouts can have socio-economic ramifications for households, businesses and vital institutions. For example, a six-hour winter blackout in mainland France could result in damages totalling over €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion).

In 2018, the World Economic Forum Centre for Cybersecurity and the Platform for Shaping the Future of Energy, Materials and Infrastructure launched the Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Industry initiative to improve the cyber resilience of global electricity infrastructure. This initiative brought together leaders from more than 50 businesses, governments, civil society and academia to collaborate and develop a clear and coherent cybersecurity vision for protecting the power infrastructure.

Building on the first phase of the initiative, the Forum is now developing a unique exchange platform for cybersecurity leaders across the electricity industry in collaboration with Dragos, EDP, Enel, Hitachi Energy, Iberdrola, Naturgy, Ørsted, Schneider Electric, Siemens Energy, Southern and Vestas. This new platform serves as a central hub where industry experts can exchange knowledge, ideas and best practices to improve cyber resilience as a whole.

By bringing together the leading minds in cybersecurity worldwide, the initiative is fostering collaboration and innovation in this critical field, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the security and reliability of the electricity infrastructure that powers the modern world.

What are the challenges of cybersecurity in the energy industry?

The unprecedented pace of technological change driven by the Fourth Industrial Revolution means that health, transport, communication, production and distribution systems will demand rapidly increasing energy resources to support global digitalization and the advancement of interconnected devices.

Digitalization is driving growth and innovation in the electricity industry and has tremendous potential to deliver shareholder, customer and environmental value. However, new technologies and business models affecting operating assets present both opportunities and risks.

In the past, managing these risks had only meant dealing with issues such as component failure or weather damages, while today’s resilience plans must consider cybersecurity-related threats.

Our approach to strengthening cybersecurity in the energy industry

The Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Industry programme focuses on three main pillars:

- Developing scenarios and use cases that industry executives and boards can use to create a culture of cyber resilience and good governance in the electricity sector.
- Improving the implementation of cyber resilience regulations by fostering dialogue between policy-makers and businesses.
- Improving supply chain resilience by establishing standards for cybersecurity roles and responsibilities across all stakeholders involved to ensure that every entity is taking appropriate steps to protect against cyberthreats.

The initiative has published a series of reports to guide chief executives and board members in meeting the unique challenges of managing cyber risks:

- Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Ecosystem: Principles and Guidance for Boards
- Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Ecosystem: Playbook for Boards and Cybersecurity Officers
- Cyber Resilience in the Electricity Ecosystem: Securing the Value Chain

In 2021, following a request from the European Commission (EC) Energy Directorate, the initiative also developed a collection of 15 lessons learned and recommendations for improvement on the new EC Cybersecurity Directive considering the implications of supply chain attacks and other systemic risks for cybersecurity in the energy industry.

ITU Emergency Telecom Roster helps restore connectivity after hurricane hits Nicaragua

A powerful tropical hurricane ripped across Nicaragua earlier this month, with torrential rains triggering life-threatening flash floods and mudslides across the Central American country.

The Category 1 storm forced 13,000 people to evacuate to shelters, according to some reports – many with only the clothes on their backs.

“The river rose one metre in ten minutes,” according to eyewitness José Domingo Enríquez of the interior town El Rama, one of the worst-affected. “It was clear the flood was coming fast, and we had to find a way to evacuate.”

Critical electricity and telecommunications services were cut shortly after the storm made landfall, leaving a million people in the dark and worried about their loved ones’ safety.

Emergency Telecom Roster deploys

To help close connectivity gaps and bolster disaster response efforts in some of the country’s hardest-hit areas, two members of ITU’s Emergency Telecommunications Roster (ETR), a group of staff volunteers from across the organization, were deployed to Nicaragua.

Their mission – the first since the roster was created – was two-fold: deliver 10 Iridium satellite phones and 10 Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) terminals to help restore connectivity as soon as possible, and to provide training for local teams to use the equipment.

ITU will typically deploy equipment upon request from an ITU Member State following a natural hazard, after which the team aims to respond within 24 to 48 hours.

In Nicaragua’s case, the request came via the telecom regulator, TELCOR, and SINAPRED, the country’s national disaster management agency.

Once on the ground, roster members Mario Castro Grande and Hani Alser met with government officials to deliver the equipment, train Telcor and SINAPRED responders, and assess the damage.

According to Alser, local officials were extremely welcoming and highly appreciative of both the equipment and the expertise provided.

“Having at least one technical person and another that can communicate in the local language and knows the customs is key to a successful ETR mission,” added Castro Grande.

Beyond bringing equipment

Delivering critical emergency telecom equipment is only part of ITU’s work in this domain.

The UN agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs) also supports the development and implementation of National Emergency Telecommunication Plans (NETP) among other regulatory and legal disaster preparedness frameworks.

“Nicaragua had a draft NETP back in 2014, but apparently it was shelved,” explained Castro Grande. “Our mission also served as a timely reminder that they should look at it again, with the objective of finalizing it.”

The ITU team also urged national authorities to implement an early warning system. This was another aspect of the mission, said Castro Grande. “We offered some information on appropriate available systems for developing countries, such as cell broadcasting, and informed them on legislative models they could look at.”

The ability of cell broadcast technology to push messages without being affected by traffic load makes it useful during emergencies when data traffic spikes, and regular SMS and voice calls tend to congest mobile networks.

“About 95 per cent of the global population is covered by a broadband network, with 5.7 billion mobile subscriptions, meaning at least 70 per cent of the world is connected,” Castro Grande pointed out. “Cell broadcasting technology should be used to its fullest potential to warn people ahead of disaster.”

Earlier this year, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the United Nations would “spearhead new action to ensure every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years.” ITU is supporting this initiative, which is led by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Submarine telecom cables enhance climate monitoring and tsunami forecasts

Over 1.3 million kilometres of submarine telecommunications cables now span the world’s oceans. As the network grows and old cables are replaced, the next generation of cables could form a real‑time ocean observation network able to provide accurate early warnings of tsunamis and a wealth of valuable data for climate science.

A standard SMART cable, meaning a telecom cable upgraded for “Scientific Monitoring And Reliable Telecommunications”, will include climate and hazard‑monitoring sensors designed to co‑exist with telecom components and to last for the same 25‑year lifespan as any commercial cable.

Climate scientists hope for the resulting ocean‑observation network to grow sustainably alongside commercial network deployments. The SMART cable will combine scientific sensing and telecoms into the same,shared submarine cable, never compromising reliable telecoms.

Two new standards now under development at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will support this aim, providing for both SMART cables and cables dedicated exclusively to scientific sensing. This standards effort builds on minimum requirements established by the Joint Task Force on SMART Cable Systems, formed in 2012 with the support
of ITU, the UNESCO‑Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO‑IOC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

“We aim to reach a point where cable system suppliers are offering all their customers the option of standardized SMART capability,” says task force chair Bruce M. Howe, a University of Hawaii research professor.

At Station ALOHA 100 kilometres north of Oahu, Howe installed and now operates a cabled scientific observatory at a depth of 4728 metres, making it the world’s deepest of its kind.

The Joint Task Force has helped develop the technical and financial feasibility of SMART cables. It now works closely with United Nations organizations, governments, and businesses intent on deploying SMART cables at scale.
A Portuguese first

Two years ago, Alcatel Submarine Networks became the first cable provider to commit to SMART, while Portugal’s telecom regulator ANACOM pledged to build SMART into the new CAM [Continent‑Azores‑Madeira] ring cable connecting the mainland to islands a thousand kilometres out in the Atlantic Ocean.

“SMART cables have been on our agenda since 2018, when planning the replacement of the ageing existing cables,” says João Cadete de Matos, Chair of ANACOM.

The submarine cable division of NEC Japan has installed more than 6000 kilometres of submarine cables dedicated to scientific sensing, which are now operated by Japan’s National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience. The first submarine cables for tsunami forecasts were deployed 12 years ago, and the network was expanded after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake — but without supporting commercial telecoms in parallel.

The Brazil‑Portugal trans‑Atlantic cable system, known as EllaLink, was the first to dedicate a fibre of a commercial telecoms cable to environmental sensing, between Madeira Island and the trunk cable. Portugal now plans to include full‑fledged SMART capability in the new CAM cable ring, with sensors embedded in the 50 or so repeaters distributed at 70‑kilometre intervals along the 3700‑kilometre system.

“We understood the significance of the opportunity. Three tectonic plates meet in this region, making it prone to earthquakes, and much international data traffic will run through the region,” says Matos.

This system could become the first step towards commercial telecom cables equipped with SMART capabilities.

“Portugal has been a huge voice of support. Some 15 to 20 per cent of international submarine cables will pass through Portuguese waters,” says Howe. “Portugal’s experience can catalyse the growth of a SMART cable community in Europe and globally.”

Added SMART capability will form around 10 per cent (EUR 12 million, or about USD 13 million) of the total cost to deploy the new government‑sponsored CAM cable. Expected to enter service in 2025, the cable will be constructed integrating sensors built by specialized companies.

Other SMART projects are in various stages of planning and development in Indonesia, the Vanuatu–New Caledonia island area, and even Antarctica.

The project between Vanuatu and New Caledonia — supported by the Joint Task Force with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation — will establish cable linkage across a “young” subduction zone (just 50 million years of age), complete with a 6500‑metre‑deep trench where hundreds of earthquakes are known to happen each year, with associated tsunami risks.

“This project will be a major accomplishment for the Joint Task Force,” says Howe, “and important in forming the foundations of an enduring regional science and early‑warning ecosystem, bringing together scientific communities, providing training, and bringing more confidence to government and industry.”

Smarter sensors

SMART cables include tried‑and‑tested environmental and hazard‑monitoring sensors in cable repeaters, which house devices amplifying the optical communication signals at intervals along a submarine cable.

Three sensors measure ocean‑bottom temperature as an indicator for climate trends; pressure for sea‑level rise, ocean currents, and tsunamis; and seismic acceleration for earthquake detection and tsunami alerts. Sensors should be operational at all times, and all detected data will be transmitted to cable landing stations at the speed of light.

“The three sensors will give us essential ocean variables, and they are compact and robust, and relatively easy to integrate in cable repeaters,” says Howe.

And SMART monitoring will keep getting smarter, he adds.

“In 10 years, we could consider more elaborate sensing capabilities, such as salinity, to add to what temperature and pressure tell us about circulation; water chemistry to understand risks like ocean acidification; and ocean sound measurements for monitoring marine mammals and biodiversity.”

Undersea and under budget

For now, some 70 DART buoys — for Deep‑ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis — are the principal existing means of tsunami detection.

But 30 per cent of those are typically out of service at any time, says Howe. By contrast, probability studies suggest a failure rate of just 5 per cent for the new sensors over a cable’s 25‑year operational life.

A SMART cable spanning the Pacific region, where most of the US‑operated DART buoy network is located, could therefore come at a more attractive price as well as offer more valuable and reliable real‑time data with no maintenance.

The current DART buoy programme run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) costs USD 27 million a year, while the international Argo programme, with 4000 expendable floats, costs around USD 32 million a year.

The US National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observation Initiative, using buoys, gliders, autonomous vehicles, and a cable system, has annual operating costs of about USD 44 million, on top of some USD 400 million it took to set up.

In contrast, the Joint Task Force calculates annual expenditures of just USD 40 million to sustain 2000 SMART cable repeaters in 30 systems around the world, assuming a very conservative 10‑year refresh cycle.

Find more resources and contact the ITU/WMO/UNESCO-IOC Joint Task Force on SMART Cable Systems.

[Source: ITU]

Fourth radio interface technology added to 5G standards

Members of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) today approved a fourth technology as part of ongoing standards development for 5G mobile services.

Known as “DECT 5G-SRIT", the new technology supports a range of uses, from wireless telephony and audio streaming to industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications, particularly in smart cities.

It was added in the first revision to ITU's key recommendation IMT-2020, which broadly encompasses fifth-generation, or 5G, networks, services, and devices.

This ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) Recommendation – providing a set of global technical 5G standards – reflects continual consultation and discussion among governments, companies, regulators, and other stakeholders dealing with radiocommunication worldwide.

Along with fostering connectivity across borders, ITU promotes the global rollout of 5G as a key driver to achieve the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals.​

“New and emerging technologies like 5G will be essential to build an inclusive, sustainable future for all people, communities and countries," said ITU's Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao. “Under the ongoing International Mobile Telecommunications or IMT programme, our diverse global membership continues its long-standing contribution to advance broadband mobile communications, furthering our mission to leave no one behind in connecting the world."

A new radio interface technology

ITU – the United Nations agency entrusted with coordinating radio-frequency spectrum worldwide - published the specifications for the new technology as Recommendation ITU-R M.2150-1.

The technology is designed to provide a slim but strong technical foundation for wireless applications deployed in a range of use cases, from cordless telephony to audio streaming, and from professional audio applications to the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications, such as building automation and monitoring.

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) laid the essential groundwork jointly with the DECT Forum, a worldwide association of the digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) or wireless technology industry.

New ITU standards project to define a sustainability passport for digital products

A new ITU standard is under development to describe the information that a sustainability passport for digital products should contain to support consumers, industry and government in applying the principles of circular economy.
The project is underway in ITU’s standardization expert group for ‘environment and circular economy’, ITU-T Study Group 5.
Circular economy can be described as extending a product’s lifespan over multiple lifecycles or increasing the value delivered by a product over its lifespan. Supporting the shift towards circular economy is a key priority for ITU-T Study Group 5, with e-waste now the world’s fastest-growing waste stream.
Experts see considerable potential for a sustainability passport to provide an instrument to help manage e-waste in a sustainable way, on a global scale – e-waste often crosses borders, and often to developing countries ill-equipped to manage a growing e-waste burden.
Our national passports describe our attributes at birth but also record where we have travelled. Should a sustainability passport for digital products be the same?
“Digital products have one set of attributes at manufacture, but these attributes can change over time as products are upgraded, recycled or resold,” highlights the standard’s Editor and Co-Rapporteur for the responsible working group (Q7/5), Leandro Navarro of Spain’s Colegio Oficial Ingenieros de Telecomunicación.
The new standard aims to define the requirements and semantics necessary to represent information relevant to circular product lifecycles. Its development will consider the inclusion of information available at the time of manufacture as well as dynamic information representing changes to product attributes over product lifecycles.
“We need verifiable data to support us in assessing the extent to which we are achieving principles of circular economy and our ambition to achieve net zero emissions,” explains Leandro. “There is currently no international agreement on the product information required to facilitate and achieve circularity in the digital technology industry.”
Clarifying the necessary information could help to put theory into practice, highlights Leandro, making an example of ITU L.1023, an international standard outlining an assessment method for circular scoring.
“Verifiable, machine-readable information could enable automatic comparisons of product attributes relevant to circularity,” says Leandro. "And with the required degree of interoperability, all stakeholders and systems could make use of this information."

Countries ramp up cybersecurity strategies

ITU releases fourth edition of the Global Cybersecurity Index; key 2020 data points to increased commitment
​​​​The latest Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows a growing commitment around the world to tackle and reduce cybersecurity threats.
Countries are working to improve their cyber safety despite the challenges of COVID-19 and the rapid shift of everyday activities and socio-economic services into the digital sphere, the newly released 2020 index confirms.
According to GCI 2020, around half of countries globally say they have formed a national computer incident response team (CIRT), indicating an 11 per cent increase since 2018. Rapid uptake of information and communication technologies (ICTs) during the COVID-19 pandemic has put cybersecurity at the forefront.
“In these challenging times, the unprecedented reliance on ICTs to drive society, economy and industry, makes it more important than ever before to secure cyberspace and build confidence among users," affirmed ITU Secretary General Houlin Zhao. “Governments and industry need to work together to make ICTs consistently safe and trustworthy for all. The Global Cybersecurity Index is a key element, offering a snapshot of the opportunities and gaps that can be addressed to strengthen every country's digital ecosystem."
Some 64 per cent of countries had adopted a national cybersecurity strategy (NCS) by year-end, while more than 70 per cent conducted cybersecurity awareness campaigns in 2020, compared to 58 per cent and 66 per cent, respectively, in 2018.
Addressing the cyber gap
Many countries and regions lag in key areas. These include:
- ​Cybersecurity skills training, which must be tailored to the needs of citizens, micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs);
Finance, healthcare, energy, and other key sectors, which require dedicated measures to close cybersecurity gaps;
- Critical infrastructure protection, which requires enhancement to meet new and evolving cyber threats;
- Individual data protection, which requires continual reinforcement as online activity expands.
Growing reliance on digital solutions necessitates ever stronger, yet also accessible and user-friendly, data protection measures.

New ITU tools to foster digital development

Data is critical to our goal of connecting the world. It tells us where we were, where we are, what works and what doesn’t. It is a key ingredient of empirical research for establishing correlation, determining causality, identifying good practices, and formulating policy recommendations.
Since the advent of the Internet, data volumes have grown exponentially. And yet, reliable and meaningful data remain surprisingly scant, because producing such data is often complex, costly, and time-consuming.
To enhance its offerings, ITU has released three new tools: an online training course; a new edition of ICT price trends; and the Digital Development Dashboard.
Developing statistical capacity
ITU is responsible for setting the international statistical standards for ICT indicators. The Manual for measuring ICT access and use by households and individuals and the Handbook for the collection of administrative data on telecommunications/ICT describe approximately the 200 or so standards maintained by ITU.
These publications are complemented by capacity development activities on the ground. To reach a broader audience, ITU is also creating several online training courses on ICT statistics. The first, Measuring digital development: Telecommunication/ICT Indicators, is now available for free on the ITU Academy platform.
Tracking the cost of connectivity
The cost of connecting to the Internet partly is one of the key reasons why some 3.7 billion people are still offline and prevents many of the 4 billion who are connected from harnessing the potential of the Internet.
The 2020 edition of ICT price trends provides analyses and compares prices of key ICT services for more than 200 economies, providing unique insights on the status of ICT affordability.
Number of economies achieving the Broadband Commission target with data-only mobile-broadband services. Includes 188 economies for which data is available from 2020 data collection. Source: ICT Price trends 2020, ITU
The report takes stock of progress towards the UN Broadband Commission’s affordability target for 2025, according to which entry-level broadband services – i.e., the cheapest data-only broadband mobile or fixed subscription available – should amount to less than two per cent of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita.
The report features new measures of affordability that reveal vast disparities within countries: even where the target has been met at country level, services often remain unaffordable for the 40 per cent poorest.
As a complement to the report, a new ICT price app enables users to compare prices of various ICT services across countries and regions and visualise trends going back 10 years.
ICT price trends follow a massive data collection effort by ITU, its Member States, and the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI).
Making data more accessible
Hidden data cannot create impact.
The newly launched Digital Development Dashboard provides a user-friendly overview of digital development for 196 economies.
The Dashboard features 37 indicators related to infrastructure and access, Internet use, and enablers and barriers. It presents 10-year trends and comparisons with regional peers. A ‘light’ version is available for mobile and low-resolution devices, while two-page country profiles can be downloaded as PDFs. The underlying data can also be downloaded in Excel format.

UAE regulator puts digital transformation front and centre

The UAE's Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) has taken an important step in advancing the national digital vision.
Formerly the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), we formally updated our identity in April 2021.
This means embracing artificial intelligence (AI), smart cities, and a knowledge-based society and economy.
The new logo reflects our new TDRA’s long-term future vision as a key national regulator. It symbolizes cutting-edge communication via the image of fibre-optic cables. At the same time, our regulator’s new name and identity reflects simplicity and aspiration to deliver customer happiness.
Enhancing innovation
As per a recent Global Innovation Institute report, the recently-renamed TDRA ranked among the top three innovative entities in the Middle East. The institute has accredited several innovations that our regulatory authority developed and implemented at the national and international level.
Leadership in the field of information and communication technology (ICT) depends on original ideas and creativity. These are critical elements of the UAE’s National Agenda 2021. Under that plan, the "United in Knowledge" pillar calls for building a diverse, competitive economy, driven by knowledgeable and innovative Emiratis, as the key to the UAE’s successful long-term development.
As a next step, in cooperation with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and Smart Dubai, we recently issued national guidelines for 'API-first' business and services.
Application Programming Interface (API) is the best way to link multiple customer-service entities from everywhere at any time. The new guidelines will help government and private entities continually update and link their services and smart applications, with close coordination ensuring a better user experience overall.
ICT investment
Other ongoing TDRA initiatives include support for remote working, distance learning, e-commerce, and e-government services across the country. The UAE also aims to enhance the ICT sector and drive digital transformation in developing countries worldwide. The country – represented by TDRA – maintains close cooperation with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), striving to extend logistical and technical support where needed, align digital strategies with sustainable development, lay the foundation for inclusive economic growth, and foster social happiness.
Digital government will be crucial going forward. Under the guidance of the UAE’s national leadership, TDRA intends to keep working closely with other government agencies and with partners across the ICT industry, aiming to envision, foster and cultivate a sustainable long-term digital transformation.
[Source: ITU]

ITU and UNDP join forces to address urgent unmet capacity building needs

The rise of digital technologies and ways of working offers extraordinary new opportunities to further global sustainable development and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, from increasing economic resilience to mitigating the damage of COVID-19 and delivering more effective public services. Yet not everyone is equally able to take advantage of these opportunities, particularly as the rapid pace of digital change places further demands on resource-constrained governments and societies.

Bridging the world's digital divide is increasingly urgent, as those who left out of today's digital transformation are in danger of falling further behind. This means ensuring that digital services are available everywhere, as well as affordable and accessible to all.

To address this key issue, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a Joint Facility for Digital Capacity Development to support those not currently served by existing digital capacity development resources or channels.

Supporting UN Efforts in Digital Capacity Development

The Joint Facility stands in support of the UN Secretary-General's Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, which calls for "a broad multi-stakeholder network to promote holistic, inclusive approaches to digital capacity-building for sustainable development, including a new joint facility for digital capacity development, which will be led by ITU and UNDP."

People and communities currently underserved in terms of digital capacity will benefit from more efficient and effective support from the ITU/UNDP Joint Facility, which aims to make digital opportunities accessible to all.

​"Robust and effective digital capacity building underlines the fulfilment of the Secretary-General's Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, by supporting countries in their efforts to harness the full potential of digital technology as part of their digital futures", said Assistant Secretary-General Maria Francesca Spatolisano, Officer-in-Charge at the UN Office of the Envoy on Technology.

"The Joint Facility will further strengthen our collective effort to equip people with the needed digital skills, literacy and capabilities, alongside with the multi-stakeholder network for digital capacity development envisioned in the roadmap."

The Joint Facility aims to:
- direct stakeholders to relevant existing ITU/UNDP resources, including digital literacy and skills training;
- identify areas of unmet demand for digital capacity development initiatives and work with end users to develop new interventions when needed;
- identify patterns and trends in unmet stakeholder needs; and
- direct strategic, operational, and programmatic support in executing digital strategies, capacity development initiatives, or other high-priority operational areas for partners.

Digital capacity must be strengthened on both the local and international levels to enable inclusive digital and societal transformation.

While governments are the main target audience, other groups requiring digital capacity support will also benefit from the services offered by the Joint Facility.

Bringing UN Agencies Together for Meaningful Change

The Joint Facility cements the partnership between ITU and UNDP to drive digital capacity development, and intends to have a new single structure facilitating joint resourcing, roles, and responsibilities.

Through its Development Sector, ITU provides direct assistance and capacity development initiatives to bridge the digital divide, promote digital inclusion and facilitate digital transformation for all.

"Making adequate capacity development tools available to all is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide and connect half of the world's population that are still offline," said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau.

"There are many aspects to developing digital skills apart from the actual training. Through the Joint Facility, we will be able to assist countries across the digital skills development value chain from assessing digital capacity needs, advising on digital strategies, and even helping with procurement and raising funds for digital development. We are incredibly excited to work together with the UNDP towards this."

UNDP's wide field presence and topic expertise will help match key local context to relevant digital solutions.

"The lack of sufficient digital skills is a major barrier to reaping the benefits of digitalization and threatens to leave the most marginalized behind," said Robert Opp, UNDP's Chief Digital Officer. "The UNDP is proactively investing in the key area of digital capacity building so that we can all take advantage of digital opportunities together."

While building on existing collaboration between the two agencies, the Joint Facility also paves the way for wider, longer-term collaboration between the UNDP and ITU.​

More information about the Joint Facility can be found at


ITU Handbook update: Wireless guidelines to support intelligent transport

As the world’s population approaches 8 billion, with more and more people migrating to ever-expanding cities, life and work are also becoming increasingly mobile.
But while these long-term trends can boost quality of life and create new communities, they also bring unprecedented traffic congestion, air pollution, and road safety challenges.
Managing these negative impacts calls for new levels of intelligence and responsiveness in the world’s transport systems.
Since most of us rely on some form of transport in our everyday lives, a tremendous number of people stand to benefit from smarter mobility.
What are ITS?
Intelligent transport systems (ITS) combine computers, communications, positioning, and automation technologies to improve the safety, management, and efficiency of terrestrial transportation.
Systems using wireless communications, sensors, and computer and control technologies are well placed to ease traffic congestion and reduce incidents. Communication standards ensure interoperability and make ITS easy for anyone to use.
Land Mobile Handbook updated
Growing ITS use increases the need for well-informed digital infrastructure planning, especially in relation to wireless-based land mobile systems. To strengthen decision-making in this area, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published an updated volume of a key reference guide, the Handbook on Land Mobile (including Wireless Access), whose fourth volume deals with ITS.
The Handbook is designed to assist in training engineers and planners in regulating, planning, engineering, and deploying these systems, especially in developing countries.
The new Volume 4 replaces the 2006 edition. Development of the multi-volume Handbook began in the late 1990s, aiming to help developing countries build state-of-the-art land mobile services of all kinds.
The five volumes published to date are:
• Volume 1: Fixed Wireless Access
• Volume 2: Principles and Approaches on Evolution to IMT-2000
• Volume 3: Dispatch and Advanced Messaging Systems
• Volume 4: Intelligent Transport Systems
• Volume 5: Deployment of Broadband Wireless Access Systems
Volume 4 summarizes the current and developing use of wireless communications in ITS around the globe, including ITS architecture and applications. Despite rapid uptake, ITS remains in its infancy as a technology.
The new volume gives an overview of wireless communications used in ITS globally by 2020.
It also includes chapters on ITS applications, ITS communication architecture, radio technologies for ITS, and international and national standardization. The final chapter describes radio frequency usage for ITS systems.
1 2