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James Sankar

James Sankar has more than two decades of invaluable experience successfully leading service transformations in the UK, Europe and Australia. Mr Sankar is the head of Delegation for the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) Smart City System and Founder of Smart Footprints, a carbon neutral consulting, advisory and managed services company. He brings his wealth and breadth of knowledge and experience to his role as Chair of the Standards Australia IT-269 committee.

With more than 20 years’ experience, James Sankar’s influential work includes the development of a secure guest Wi-Fi global service (eduroam), unified collaboration platforms, collaborative storage, cyber security and professional services.

His specific interests lie in extending smart city practices to be inclusive, especially to support the vulnerable as well as the use of technology and systems to accelerate the recovery of our natural environment. He is also head of Delegation for the IEC Smart City System and convenor of a recently established international global advisory group that scans, tracks and maps the impact of technology and mega-trends on cities as they transform to become smarter and more sustainable.

In 2020, Mr Sankar founded Smart Footprints — a carbon neutral consulting, advisory and managed services company bringing together internet and data expertise to be applied in the construction of Smart Sustainable Cities. The aim of this was to help those cities develop and adopt ‘smart’ standards, to meaningfully progress a much-needed transition toward sustainably driven ways of working and living.

Additionally, he is Chair of the Standards Australia technical committee IT-269 Smart Cities Systems.

Mr Sankar first became involved with Standards Australia in 2019 due to his interest in smart cities. He says of his knowledge at the time: “I was familiar with ISO (International Standards Organization) standards due to my work, but all I knew about IEC was that it was labelled on electrical appliances. Other than that, I didn’t know much about the standards development process, how long it takes or the approach, so it’s been a big learning experience.”

Since then, Mr Sankar has not only grasped standards development but is optimistic for the future of standards.

“I sense that standards are still playing catch-up with technology in the smart cities space, but we’re gaining momentum. From an international perspective, Australia has helped improve rigour around articulating standards and providing feedback,” he said.

“I hope to see standards digitally transformed so they are created quicker, machine-readable and documented in ways that are easy to find: this is the way of the future for standards development.”

In an edition of E-News, Mr Sankar expressed the need for greater coordination across standards bodies from the International Electrotechnical Commission, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations.

“They are growing in working group size and effort, leading to degrees of overlap. Standards need a visionary narrative at the national level that goes beyond a technology or data niche. They need to be more modular so that cities can plug practices together to be fit for purpose to their unique context, wants, needs and capabilities,” he said.

“Standards will be less of an aspirational one size fits all, more so a playbook of practice built on an open, interoperable, secure and trusted data platform. I hope that standards become more sustainable, human and community-centric as cities are defined ultimately by their people, security, needs and wants.”

Mr Sankar says he is immensely proud of his work with IT-269, the committee responsible for IEC Electrotechnical and Electrotechnology Smart City Systems.

“Standards are more than a day job, often-times contributors are working outside of normal hours – in the wee hours of the morning. My role as Chair is merely to facilitate the great work of people I help along the way. I want to recognise their work,” he said.

“We are always humbled to see into the minds of our contributors and how they hope to continue to shape our way of life through standards, now and into the future,” said Adrian O’Connell, Chief Executive Officer at Standards Australia.