IFIP is the International Federation for Information Processing. By its own admission, and according to its website, it is the leading multinational, apolitical organization in the field of information and communications technologies and sciences. It is officially a non-governmental, non-profit umbrella organization for national societies working in the field of information processing. For technology practitioners, the organisation represents community, education and standards.
- IFIP has recognition from major international bodies – IFIP was established in 1960 under the auspices of UNESCO as a result of the first World Computer Congress held in Paris in 1959. It is formally recognised by the United Nations as a representative body, and also has a formal consultative partnership relationship with UNESCO. This gives it an important regional and international role as a voice for the ICT industry. For example, in May this year, the president of the organisation was asked to present to the 22nd Session of the UN Commission on Science, Session of UN Commission on Science, Technology and Development on the subject of AI and ethics.
- IFIP is very much an international body, although headquartered in Europe – IFIP is headquartered in Austria, and the current president is the head of the Irish Computer Society. However, the organisation represents IT societies from over 50 countries and regions, across five continents. It has a total membership of over half a million people, and links with more than 3,500 scientists from both academia and industry. It has made great strides towards building an international community of people interested in various aspects of ICT. It can therefore draw people together on particular topics when necessary.
- IFIP has a wide range of work, including working groups, committees and publications – At any given time, IFIP is likely to have over 100 working groups running. The current total is 101, and these report to 13 different technical committees. It is involved in the publication of around 30 new books each year across a wide range of topics in ICT, including a recent post-conference open access publication on the Internet of Things. IFIP also publishes journals such as the new IFIP Select, which disseminates findings from IFIP’s working groups and committees.
- IFIP sponsors conferences on key topics for the ICT industry – IFIP sponsors around 100 conferences each year, across a range of topics including theoretical informatics, the relationship between informatics and society, and networked information systems. In October this year, for example, it will sponsor its second Internet of Things conference in Tampa, Florida. Last year, its IFIP World Computer Congress, held in Poznan, Poland, focused on the opportunities and threats involved in information processing in an increasingly connected world.
- IFIP is also involved in educational opportunities, including summer schools – Education is a key part in developing the ICT professionals of the future. Alongside conferences, IFIP also supports international education opportunities, such as the ICTAC/CARI Summer School, held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, last October. The school provided tutorials in a range of basic and advanced topics, presented by international experts from around the world, and IFIP sponsorship was key to attracting these international speakers.
- IFIP plays a leading role in developing industry standards across regions – IFIP is an important voice in the development of professional standards in ICT through its professionalism arm, International Professional Practice Partnership, or IP3. For example, in March this year, in the wake of several Boeing aircraft crashes, IP3 called for minimum professional standards of qualification and experience for ICT practitioners working on systems where failure could have a major impact on human life.
- IFIP accredits national member societies to certify ICT practitioners – IP3 also accredits national member societies to certify ICT practitioners as capable. Practitioners have to meet minimum skills and knowledge standards, and continually update their skills through professional development activities. They must be committed to a code of ethics, and agree to be accountable for maintaining trustworthy ICT systems.
- The organisation plays a key role in sharing best practice around the world – IFIP has a broad remit to contribute to the development of appropriate regulatory frameworks and consensus on best practice in the use of ICT. For example, a recent project proposal focused on the future of professionalism for digital skills around the world. It recognises that the benefits of technology will only be achieved with investments in education and skills, and aims to develop a repository of best practice, frameworks and use cases on the development and use of digital technology.