Hardware & Software Standards
Wiki Content by: Janet Apter, Rose Giannini, and Cindy Sunderman and GOS (guide-on-the-side)
GOSNote: This team has done an awesome job of filteringthrough horrific info overload on these broad topics. Here is my $.02 advice in terms of summary take-aways from all this information:
1. You can search the web for anything specific you might ever want toknow about hardware or software components and standards (we will nevermemorize and remember them all).
2. It is important to recognize that not all standards are createdequal. Defacto, ad hoc, and mandated standards are createddifferently than consensus standards (which predominate in healthcare). Understand the differences and consider participating inthe consensus process to represent nursing!
3. IT folks tend to have a stake-in-the-ground for their favorite hardwareand software. They often resist open-source when it offersreasonable and cheap alternatives. But open-source softwaredoesn't exist for every application. Evaluate carefully andchoose wisely, but never trust a tekkie who tells you the stuff is notworth using!
4. Standards exist because we desperately need them! They make products and software more usable!
Standard - A definition or format that has been approved by a recognized standards organization or is accepted as a de facto standard by the industry. Standards exist for programming languages, operating systems, data formats, communications protocols, and electrical interfaces.
There are four ways that a standard can be developed:
Ad hoc method - agroup of interested people and organizations agree on a standardspecification. It is informal and are mutually agreed on by theparticipating groups.
De Facto Standard -A single vendor controls a large enough share of the market to make itsproduct the market standard. An example of this type would be Microsoft.
Government Mandate Method - A government agency creates a standard and legislates its use. The CMS's UB92 insurance claim form is an example.
Consensus Standard -A format, language, or protocol that has been approved by formalizedcommittees that are open to participation by all interested parties andoperate on a consensus basis. Most health care standards areproduced this way. An example is HL7.
Standards OrganizationsMost official computer standards are set by one of the following organizations:
ANSI (American National Standards Institute)
ITU (International Telecommunication Union)
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers)
ISO (International Standards Organization)
VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association)
IEEE sets standards for most types of electrical interfaces. Its most famous standard is probably RS-232C, which defines an interface for serial communication. This is the interface used by most modems, and a number of other devices, including display screens and mice. IEEE is also responsible for designing floating-point data formats.
WhileIEEE is generally concerned with hardware, ANSI is primarily concernedwith software. ANSI has defined standards for a number of programming languages, including C, COBOL, and FORTRAN.
ITU defines international standards, particularly communications protocols. It has defined a number of standards that specify protocols for transmitting data over telephone lines.
Organization Web Links:
ANSI - American National Standards Institute.Founded in 1918, ANSI is a voluntary organization composed of over1,300 members (including all the large computer companies) that createsstandards for the computer industry. For example, ANSI C is a versionof the C language that has been approved by the ANSI committee. To alarge degree, all ANSI C compliers, regardless of which companyproduces them, should behave similarly.
Inaddition to programming languages, ANSI sets standards for a wide rangeof technical areas, from electrical specifications to communicationsprotocols. For example, FDDI, the main set of protocols for sendingdata over fiber optic cables, is an ANSI standard.
ITUis the leading United Nations agency for information and communicationtechnologies. As the global focal point for governments and the privatesector, ITU's role in helping the world communicate spans 3 coresectors: radiocommunication, standardization and development. ITU alsoorganizes Telecom events and was the lead organizing agency of theWorld Summit on the Information Society.
ITU is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and its membership includes 191 Member States and more than 700 Sector Members and Associates.
IEEE is a non-profit organization, and is the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology.
TheIEEE name was originally an acronym for the Institute of Electrical andElectronics Engineers, Inc. Today, the organization's scope ofinterest has expanded into so many related fields, that it issimply referred to by the letters I-E-E-E (pronouncedEye-triple-E).
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 157 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a non-governmental organizationthat forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. On the onehand, many of its member institutes are part of the governmentalstructure of their countries, or are mandated by their government. Onthe other hand, other members have their roots uniquely in the privatesector, having been set up by national partnerships of industryassociations. Therefore, ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society.
VESAis an international non-profit corporation led by a Board of Directors,which represents a voting membership of more than 165 corporate membersworldwide. VESA supports and sets industry-wide interface standards forthe PC, workstation, and consumer electronics industries. VESA providesa forum to develop, promote and support open standards for the displayindustry.
Shortliffe, E.H. and J.J. Cimino, eds. Biomedical Informatics: Computer Applications in Health Care and Biomedicine. Third Edition. 2006, Springer, page 269.
Why We Need Standards!
Ina nutshell, standards are essential in the production of electronicresources because they facilitate data interchange and representationand management of information. That they should be used is almostunarguable; which standards should be used is another question.
http://www.hhs.gov/healthit/ Health information technology (Health IT) allows comprehensivemanagement of medical information and its secure exchange betweenhealth care consumers and providers. Broad use of health IT will:Improve health care quality; Prevent medical errors; Reduce health care costs; Increase administrative efficiencies; Decrease paperwork; and Expand access to affordable care.
Interoperable health IT will improve individualpatient care, but it will also bring many public health benefitsincluding:Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks around the country; Improved tracking of chronic disease management; and Evaluationof health care based on value enabled by the collection ofde-identified price and quality information that can be compared.
Interoperability (defined) And these folks are leading the best efforts yet in healthcare: http://www.ihe.net/
General Hardware Standards and Considerations
The term hardwarecovers all of those parts of a computer that are tangible objects. Personal computers, laptops, monitors/displays, circuits, powersupplies, cables, keyboards, printers, scanners, video, camera and miceare all hardware. Theintended application of the hardware will help determine theneeds. The factors to consider when choosing hardware includesize and space of room, needs of users (individuals or groups),budget, reliability and serviceability of the hardware,accessability needs of the users, ergonomic considerations and futureupgrade plans. There are many pieces of hardware to consider,including but not limited to workstations, CPU, laptops,tablets, memory (how much), storage needs, networkingcapabilities, video and audio needs, printing needs, DVD,projector needs, and scanning needs.
Influencing Factors The intended application of the hardware will help determine the needs. Thefactors to consider when choosing hardware include the purpose,specific application needs, budget considerations and maintenance needs. Thereare many pieces of hardware to consider, including but not limited toworkstations, CPU, laptops, tablets, memory (how much), storage needs,networking capabilities, video and audio needs, printing needs, DVDcapabilities, projector needs and scanning needs. that help determine hardware needs include:· Purpose of the use of the hardware- single users, instructional use, lab work etc· Specificapplication of the hardware – helps you to determine the type ofhardware, the size of the operating system, will there be need to shareresources· Budget – how much money is allocated · Maintenance-who will maintain the software, how much maintenance will be needed, who will install updates, etcSome aspects to consider when determining hardware needs include:· Workstationhardware needs-what type of monitor and keyboard, wall mounted, desktype or mobile. Processing power, memory, storage needs, audioand video needs· Server hardware needs-type will depend on the use, have to consider size of application, printing, storage · Networking related issue, Ethernet, cables, hubs, switches· Printingand other peripherals (scanners, imaging, video, audio, printers,speakers, headsets, webcam, monitors, keyboards, etc). Type ofprinters, color, laser, size of paper, number of users that can accessprinters. · Power needs, how will power be maintained, via outlets, power strips· Ergonomicneeds of users, accessibility needs, special equipment for monitorglare, special keyboards, adjustable height of equipment· Future upgrades, how will upgrades be handles, who will install them· Layoutof room or location of hardware- how many users will be using hardware,is there enough room, how should the hardware be set up, what is thelayo
Influencing Factors that help determine hardware needs include:Purposeof the use of the hardware – single user, instructional use, lab work,will the hardware be reused or is it disposable, who are the users(tech savvy or novice), are there infection control issues if used forpatient care, etcSpecific application of the hardware – helps you determine the type of hardware, the size of the operating system, need to share resourcesBudget – how much money is allocated for purchaseMaintenance-who will maintain the hardware, how much maintenance will be needed, who will install updates, etc Some aspects to consider when determining hardware needs include: Workstation hardware needs-what type of monitor and keyboard, wall mounted, desk type or mobile. Processing power, memory, storage needs, audio and video needs.Server hardware needs-type will depend on the use, have to consider size of application, printing, storageNetworking related issues, Ethernet, cables, hubs, switchesPrinting and other peripherals (scanners, imaging, video, audio, printers, speakers, headsets, webcam, etc). Type of printers, color, laser, size of paper, number of users that can and need to access printing capabilities.Power need, how much power, via outlets or power stripsErgonomicneeds of users, accessibility needs, special equipment for monitorglare, special keyboards, adjustable height of equipmentFuture upgrades, how will upgrades be handled, who will install themLayoutof room or location of hardware-how many users will be using hardware,is there enough room, how should the hardware be set up what is thelayout
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/reskit/deploy/dgfd_adm_jacy.mspx?mfr=true provides a list of useful questions to ask when planning hardware needs
Theintended application of the hardware will help determine theneeds. The factors to consider when choosing hardware includesize and space of room, needs of users (individuals or groups),budget, reliability and serviceability of the hardware,accessability needs of the users, ergonomic considerations and futureupgrade plans. There are many pieces of hardware to consider,including but not limited to workstations, CPU, laptops,tablets, memory (how much), storage needs, networkingcapabilities, video and audio needs, printing needs, DVD,projector needs, and scanning needs. Influencing FactorsInfluencing FactorsI that help determine hardware needs include:Theintended application of the hardware will help determine theneeds. The factors to consider when choosing hardware includesize and space of room, needs of users (individuals or groups),budget, reliability and serviceability of the hardware,accessability needs of the users, ergonomic considerations and futureupgrade plans. There are many pieces of hardware to consider,including but not limited to workstations, CPU, laptops,tablets, memory (how much), storage needs, networkingcapabilities, video and audio needs, printing needs, DVD,projector needs, and scanning needs. that help determine hardware needs include:Theintended application of the hardware will help determine theneeds. The factors to consider when choosing hardware includesize and space of room, needs of users (individuals or groups),budget, reliability and serviceability of the hardware,accessability needs of the users, ergonomic considerations and futureupgrade plans. There are many pieces of hardware to consider,including but not limited to workstations, CPU, laptops,tablets, memory (how much), storage needs, networkingcapabilities, video and audio needs, printing needs, DVD,projector needs, and scanning neehttp://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/reskit/deploy/dgfd_adm_jacy.mspx?mfr=true (this link provides important questions to ask when you are determining hardware standards needs)
http://www.apple.com/accessibility/ computer hardware/accessibility options
http://www.cdc.gov/od/ohs/Ergonomics/ergohome Hardware and ergonomicsSelf assessment:
Ergonomic Evaluation Checklist.xls
Hardware standardsare rules and/or definitions that specify hardware requirements thatare necessary for an intended purpose. Most often hardwarestandards are developed by and for organizations, groups, businessesand universities (to name a few). These standards help to assurethat the components (hardware) are interchangeable and compatible withthe software. Some of the issues that hardware standards addressinclude the amount of memory needed, will there be need to network, whowill back up the information, how will failed hardware be replaced,what type of security will be needed. With the proliferation ofstandards it becomes important to determine which to adopt or adhereto. Here are a few resources to get you started.
Resources related to hardware and hardware standards:
(example of hardware standards)
(example of open hardware)
(history of computing hardware)
(new technology, pharmacy robot)
OPEN SOURCE HARDWARE INFORMATION
Inthe medical industry, the need for interoperability is becoming severe.New technologies are being introduced at an ever-increasing rate. Manyhospitals, for example, are now adopting electronic medical records,which promise to allow physicians to access more information withgreater speed. In addition to electronic medical records, hospitals arecontinually introducing new imaging and therapeutic devices, many of which have the potential to interact synergistically if they can be integrated effectively.
The need for “plug-and-play” interoperability in a hospital setting has attracted great attention from both healthcare providers and from the biomedical industry. Hospitals and HMO’sform a large market for interoperable products, and standards defininginteroperability in the medical sphere are being developed by a varietyof international organizations such as IHE. Despite this interest, however, many manufacturers currently avoid investing in interoperability, touting the inter-compatibility of their own products while attempting to exclude competitors.
Leadersof hospitals and healthcare organizations are slowly realizing thatachieving interoperability would greatly improve healthcare.Interoperable technology enables doctors to work more efficiently, andit helps prevent mistakes. Interoperability also encourages innovationin the industrial sectorby allowing small companies to introduce specialized products. Withoutinteroperability, hospitals are forced to turn to a few large vendors.Interoperability promotes competition, and competition encouragesinnovation and quality. As large hospitals begin to understand thisfact, efforts to promote biomedical interoperability are gatheringstrength.
General Software Standards and Considerations
Froma user’s standpoint, standards are extremely important in the computerindustry because they allow the combination of products from differentmanufacturers to create a customized system. Without standards, onlyhardware and software from the same company could be used together. Inaddition, standard user interfaces can make it much easier to learn howto use new applications.
Inthe networked environment, the ability to easily share information iscrucial. Central to information sharing is the software environment,particularly software used for word processing, spreadsheets,databases, network browsing, and electronic mail. Developing softwarestandards, will greatly improve functions between these systems.Standards can facilitate exchange of information.
The advantages of software standards are:Improved Data Sharing Simplified Budgeting and Purchasing Improved Support Improved Training Smoother Software Installation and Upgrades
Software standards enable software to interoperate. Thereis not consensus on what the standards should include. Softwarestandards are one of the unsolved problems in software engineering.There are multiple reasons behind software standards such as safety,economic and social reasons.Non-standardimplementation of standards or specifications by multiple organizationsresults in a requirement for implementation specific code and specialcase exceptions as a necessity for cross-platform interoperability.Notable modern examples include web browser compatibility andweb-services interoperability. The arbitrariness of most softwareconcepts, which is related to historical hardware and softwareimplementation, lack of common standards worldwide, and economicpressures.
Sometimes software standards are controlled by private corporations (the Windows GUI interface is owned by Microsoft).Sometimes software standards are controlled by open, public, ornon-profit organizations (the Secure Shell 2 protocol is 'owned' by theIETF).
An open standard is a standard that is publicly available and has various rights to use associated with it.Theterms "open" and "standard" have a wide range of meanings associatedwith their usage. The term "open" is usually restricted to royalty freetechnologies while the term "standard" is sometimes restricted totechnologies approved by formalized committees that are open toparticipation by all interested parties and operate on a consensusbasis.Thedefinitions of the term "open standard" used by academics, the EuropeanUnion and some of its member governments or parliaments such asDenmark, France, and Spain preclude open standards requiring fees foruse, as does the Venezuelan Government. On the standard organizationside, the W3C ensures that its specifications can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis.Many definitions of the term "standard" permit patent holders to impose "reasonable and non-discriminatory"royalty fees and other licensing terms on implementers and/or users ofthe standard. For example, the rules for standards published by themajor internationally recognized standards bodies such as the IETF, ISO, and IECpermit their Standards to contain specifications whose implementationwill require payment of patent licensing fees (none of theseorganizations states that they grant "open standards", but only"standards"). ITU has a definition of "open standard" that allows "reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing.Theterm "open standard" is sometimes coupled with "open source" with theidea that a standard is not truly open if it does not have a completefree/open source reference implementation available. Open standards which specify formats are sometimes referred to as open formats.
Manyspecifications that are sometimes referred to as standards areproprietary and only available under restrictive contract terms (ifthey can be obtained at all) from the organization that owns thecopyright on the specification. As such these specifications are notconsidered to be fully Open.
Purpose of an Open Standard
Thepurpose of an open standard is to increase the market for a technologyby enabling potential consumers or suppliers of that technology toinvest in it without having to either pay monopoly rent or fearlitigation on trade secret, copyright, patent, or trademark causes ofaction. No standard can properly be described as "open" except to theextent it achieves these goals.
Theindustry has learned by experience that the only software-relatedstandards to fully achieve these goals are those which not only permitbut encourage open-source implementations. Open-source implementationsare a quality and honesty check for any open standard that might beimplemented in software; whether an application programming interface,a hardware interface, a file format, a communication protocol, aspecification of user interactions, or any other form of datainterchange and program control.
Tohelp industry participants (suppliers, consumers, and regulators)identify and specify standards that permit open source implementations,the OSI has defined a minimal Open Standards Requirement (OSR). The OSIhas also created a set of Criteria that can be used to judge whether astandard fully complies with that Requirement.
Specific definitions of an open standard
The ITU-T is a standards development organization (SDO) that is one of the three sectors of the International Telecommunications Union (a specialized agency of the United Nations). The ITU-T has a Telecommunication Standardization Bureau director's Ad Hocgroup on IPR that produced the following definition in March 2005,which the ITU-T as a whole has endorsed for its purposes since November2005 :
The ITU-Thas a long history of open standards development. However, recentlysome different external sources have attempted to define the term "OpenStandard" in a variety of different ways. In order to avoid confusion,the ITU-T uses for its purpose the term "Open Standards" per thefollowing definition:
"OpenStandards" are standards made available to the general public and aredeveloped (or approved) and maintained via a collaborative andconsensus driven process. "Open Standards" facilitate interoperabilityand data exchange among different products or services and are intendedfor widespread adoption.
Other elements of "Open Standards" include, but are not limited to:Collaborativeprocess – voluntary and market driven development (or approval)following a transparent consensus driven process that is reasonablyopen to all interested parties. Reasonably balanced – ensures that the process is not dominated by any one interest group. Due process - includes consideration of and response to comments by interested parties. Intellectualproperty rights (IPRs) – IPRs essential to implement the standard to belicensed to all applicants on a worldwide, non-discriminatory basis,either (1) for free and under other reasonable terms and conditions or(2) on reasonable terms and conditions (which may include monetarycompensation). Negotiations are left to the parties concerned and areperformed outside the SDO. Qualityand level of detail – sufficient to permit the development of a varietyof competing implementations of interoperable products or services.Standardized interfaces are not hidden, or controlled other than by theSDO promulgating the standard. Publiclyavailable – easily available for implementation and use, at areasonable price. Publication of the text of a standard by others ispermitted only with the prior approval of the SDO. On-going support – maintained and supported over a long period of time.
The ITU-T, ITU-R, ISO, and IEC have harmonized on a common patent policy  under the banner of the WSC.Anyway, the above ITU-T definition cannot be considered also applicablein ITU-R, ISO and IEC contexts, since the Common Patent Policy  does not make any reference to "open standards" but only to "standards".
World Wide Web Consortium's definition
As one of the important provider of Web technology ICT Standards, notably XML, http, HTML, CSS and WAI, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) follows a process that promotes the development of high-quality standards.
The W3C process defines the following set of requirements that a provider of technical specification must follow to qualify as Open Standard.transparency(due process is public, and all technical discussions, meeting minutes,are archived and referencable in decision making) relevance(new standardization is started upon due analysis of the market needs,including requirements phase, e.g. accessibility, multi-linguism) openness(anybody can participate, and everybody does: industry, individual,public, government bodies, academia, on a worldwide scale) impartialityand consensus (guaranteed fairness by the process and the neutralhosting of the W3C organization, with equal weight for eachparticipant) availability(free access to the standard text, both during development and at finalstage, translations, and clear IPR rules for implementation, allowingopen source development in the case of Webtechnologies) maintenance (ongoing process for testing, errata, revision, permanent access)
Oneresult of this controversy was that many governments (including theDanish, French and Spanish governments singly and the EU collectively)specifically affirmed that "open standards" required royalty-freelicenses. Some standards organizations, such as the W3C, modified their processes to essentially only permit royalty-free licensing. Oasis-Openallows committees to operate either on a RAND basis or a royalty-freebasis, but OASIS does say to grant "open standards" when they are notroyalty-free.
Patents for software, formulas and algorithms are currently enforceable in the US but not in the EU. The European Patent Convention Article 52 paragraph (2)(c)expressly prohibits algorithms, business methods and software frombeing covered by patents. The US has only allowed them since 1989 andthere has been growing controversy in recent years as to either thebenefit or feasibility.
A standards body and its associated processes cannot forcea patent holder to give up its right to charge license fees, especiallyif the company concerned is not a member of the standards body andunconstrained by any rules that were set during the standardsdevelopment process. In fact, this element discourages some standardsbodies from adopting an "open" approach, fearing that they will loseout if their members are more constrained than non-members. Few bodieswill carry out (or require their members to carry out) a full patentsearch. Ultimately, the only sanction a standards body can apply whenpatent licensing is demanded is to cancel the standard or try to reworkaround it.