Peter Ryan chairs Standards Australia committee IT-031, Modelling and Simulation, and is a member of several Smart Cities committees. He is the Australian delegate for ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC24 (Computer graphics, image processing and environmental data representation) and leads the Working Group. With his colleague, Richard Watson
, the co-founder of Ryan Watson Consulting, he helps clients make better use of new technologies and the transition to ‘smart cities’.
When did you first become involved in standards development?
I first became involved in standards while working in Defence on Navy projects in the 1990s. I was a Research Scientist with the Defence Science and Technology Group for over 30 years. My education was in Maths and Physics at Melbourne University. I have also lived and worked in the US, UK, and also Japan during my academic and Defence careers. I am now a consultant with a small company working in Big Data and Smart Cities.
It was critical that new Australian Navy simulation systems be designed to be interoperable with Allied systems, in particular the US systems to enable joint training in synthetic environments. In 2004, Standards Australia created a new committee, IT-031, Modelling and Simulation, and I was invited to join because of my interest in standards. I became Chair of IT-031 several years later.
The IT-031 committee has developed a Modelling and Simulation Handbook that is now in its third edition. The first edition focussed on defence / engineering standards, the second edition included the role of simulation in education and training, while the third edition incorporates healthcare simulation.
IT-031 is mirror to SC 24 within the international ISO/IEC JTC1 committee. SC 24 focusses on environmental representation, graphics, and image processing. Standards developed by SC 24 include X3D web graphics and the underlying principles for Mixed and Augmented Reality.
SC 24 has expanded in recent years to create new working groups and I am now Convenor for WG 10 Representation and Visualization of Information for Systems Integration.
I am also a member of the JT-001 and IT-268 committees.
How do standards impact and interact with your industry?
Standards are critical for defence.
Australia needs defence operational and training systems that are compliant with international standards so that the Australian Defence Force can train and operate with other defence forces. This includes compliance at the material level (e.g. common fuel for aircraft), information level (common communication protocols for equipment), and procedural level (common understanding of behaviours and tactics).
The alternative would be to have systems and practices that do not interoperate, and this would be unworkable in a military operation where there is no time for learning new approaches. Our aircraft, ships and land forces are most likely to operate with allies in any conceivable conflict. For example, if common platforms are used, our forces can easily use equipment such as aircraft and tanks that are owned and operated by our allies.
Why is access to standards important?
Without standards the world would be in chaos. This would particularly apply to defence. These standards must also be readily accessible. Whereas previously Defence used its own standards or those established by close allies (such as the US Mil-Spec series, UK DefStans, or NATO STANAGs), the trend in militaries is to use readily available open standards from organisations such as ISO. This facilitates industry involvement in defence projects.
What is the future of standardisation in your area of work?
WG 10 in SC 24 addresses areas that combine standards from all the working groups. This group has developed a guidance document for representing and visualising smart cities.
Currently WG 10 is developing a foundational standard for the Metaverse, an evolution of the Internet that will provide an immersive virtual world facilitated by virtual and augmented reality. The Metaverse is attracting considerable interest from industry and standards will be essential to enable its vision to become a reality. I suspect the Metaverse standards will be a major component of SC 24’s work program over the next few years.