Standards set the scene for securing data

Standards Australia

By Daniel Chidgey*
Wednesday, 10 June, 2020

Standards set the scene for securing data

Standards Australia is working with experts to discuss the adoption of an international privacy standard for information and data management.

Our daily lives can be accounted for in infinite patterns of 0s and 1s. These represent the data collected from the actions we take, from buying a stick of gum with a credit card to uploading our passport to confirm our identity. All this data is fragile and important. This is no more apparent than with the current conversation surrounding the federal government’s COVIDSafe app. When announced, Australians were quickly assured this vital tool would keep data safe and secure. So it’s no surprise data and cybersecurity are on everyone’s mind.

From smart cities to international cybersecurity, Standards Australia works across numerous sectors in an attempt to support and protect essential data. Whether it’s privacy, storage or ethical considerations, Standards Australia continues to assist consumers, governments and industry in order to support consistency, security and safety for all Australians.

Managing private information

Whatever business you’re in, data privacy is an increasing priority. Anyone who comes into contact with personal data and information must take care in handling it. It is important organisations are supported in managing people’s private information, specifically in relation to privacy concerns and stricter requirements.

Standards Australia is working closely with international experts to discuss the adoption of the international standard ISO/IEC 27701, Privacy standard information and data management. The committee involved intends to modify the standard for Australian use while aligning our privacy requirements with international functions.

The standard provides guidance for establishing, implementing and maintaining a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS) in order to best manage information and data in any capacity and support the privacy of such. The standard is aimed at being applicable for organisations of all types and sizes.

These standards will help professionals and industry manage their data in a way that supports the safety of Australians in their communities and internationally. Standards Australia will continue to work with our international partners to give Australia a voice and stay at the forefront of data management.

Standards shaping smart cities

So far this year, Australia has adopted several international standards to help shape smart city development. Standards Australia has worked with international bodies to modify and adopt standards which will aid the effective development and implementation of technologies essential to functioning and successful smart cities.

The foundation of smart cities is data collection, and the use of this data in order to provide solutions which aid efficiency, sustainability and progression for communities. For example, a smart city can use the information collected by cameras to help reduce traffic congestion and improve flow.

While these improvements and initiatives are designed to produce better living conditions and communities, the entire project is founded on data. The protection and ethical use of this data is essential to the success of smart cities and through working with professionals from across the world and industries, the expertise involved in developing standards provides a unique opportunity for standards to support the correct storage and precautions for data collection and use.

Internationally, there is a range of standards focused on smart cities that have already been developed by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) to support future smart city initiatives across the globe.

The adopted standards aim to assist governments at every level to understand and measure improvements that can be made as communities and cities begin to expand.

ISO 37120 Sustainable cities and communities — Indicators for city services and quality of life. ISO 37120 has become an international reference point for sustainable city indicators; it outlines indicators that measure the performance of city services and quality of life. Indicators are an important tool that help cities establish a baseline to measure and evaluate performance.

The standard aims to provide a uniform approach to what is measured and how measurement is to be undertaken and can be utilised by cities regardless of size or location.

ISO 37123 Sustainable cities and communities — Indicators for resilient cities. This standard intends to set out requirements for cities to measure their responsiveness in recovering from either natural or man-made disasters. As Australia is often subject to extreme weather conditions, this standard has the potential to assist cities, regional hubs and other communities understand and improve recovery processes.

ISO 37101 Sustainable development in communities — Management system for sustainable development — Requirements with guidance for use. Sustainability is an integral part of the management and development of smart cities and ISO 37101 aims to provide cities with the tools to become more sustainable. The standard targets environmental, social and economic issues, including improved community services and socioeconomic benefits, as well as supporting clear purposes for sustainable development in communities and encouraging sound planning systems to achieve them.

International digital economy security

A recent report estimated Australia’s rapidly growing digital economy will contribute $139 billion to the GDP by the end of 2020. One of the biggest challenges to this growth is cybersecurity concerns.

In February of this year, Standards Australia released a report focused on cybersecurity in the Pacific region. The Pacific Islands Cyber Security Standards Cooperation Agenda outlines recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in the Pacific Islands through the use of standards. (In the context of this report, the Pacific Islands involved include Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.)

The report sets out recommendations around greater access to funding, resourcing and technical assistance including the development and adoptions of cybersecurity standards from international partners. Proposed standards in this space are hoped to provide essential support and framework to protect business data, to in turn help build confidence in clients, customers and partners in Pacific nations.

Working with international partners is a key pillar to the successful development of standards, and Standards Australia plays a pivotal role in these relationships. While standards are an important tool in supporting legislation and policy, it is the act of working together across international borders to provide shared knowledge and information that supports these possible outcomes, such as this report.

Supporting digital evolution

The digital world is constantly evolving, and Standards Australia is committed to proactively working to support and provide a foundation for these ongoing developments. Standards Australia welcomes and encourages feedback from our stakeholders and Australian communities.

If you’re looking for more information or would like to give feedback or discuss opportunities in this sector, please reach out to our Stakeholder Engagement Team at

*Daniel Chidgey is Head of Stakeholder Engagement for Standards Australia.

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