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Prepared Remarks by Arden L. Bement, Jr.
Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Pervasive Computing 2002 Conference
NIST, Gaithersburg, MD
September 18, 2002


It is my pleasure to be here this morning to welcome you to NIST and our "Pervasive Computing 2002" conference. The conference is sponsored by NIST and the American Telemedicine Association and is the third in a series of conferences aimed at understanding the issues involved in the effective use of Pervasive Computing technologies in all aspects of modern life.

For those of you unfamiliar with NIST, our mission is clear and simple: to develop and promote measurement, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life. Our primary customers are U.S. industry and the taxpayers. NIST carries out its mission in four cooperative programs:

  • the Baldrige National Quality Program, which promotes performance excellence among U.S. manufacturers, service companies, educational institutions, and health care providers; conducts outreach programs and manages the annual Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award which recognizes performance excellence and quality achievement;
  • the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nationwide network of local centers offering technical and business assistance to smaller manufacturers;
  • the Advanced Technology Program, which accelerates the development of innovative technologies for broad national benefit by co-funding R&D partnerships with the private sector; and
  • the NIST Laboratories, conducting research that advances the nation's technology infrastructure and is needed by U.S. industry to continually improve products and services.


The Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) is sponsoring this conference. ITL has an excellent track record of working with industry to help them solve both general and unique challenges with respect to effectively using information technology. An Advanced Technology Program representative will also talk about ATP funding opportunities in Pervasive Computing and related areas.

Pervasive Computing is an emerging field of computing that will impact industry, government and daily life much as the personal computing revolution did. It consists of three major components: pervasive devices, pervasive communications and pervasive interaction. Each of these components works in synergy to give pervasive computing its unique qualities. Pervasive devices are essentially computers and sensors embedded in devices, appliances, equipment, homes, workplaces and factories, and clothing, to create artifacts that respond to human needs. Pervasive communication means that there will be a high degree of communication among devices and sensors through a ubiquitous and secure wired and wireless network infrastructure. Pervasive interaction promises to bring more natural and humane modes of interacting with information technology.

This year, we have emphasized the use of Pervasive Computing technology in healthcare and related fields because we believe it to be a particularly fertile area for the emergence of Pervasive Computing. NIST has been engaged for a while now in a long-term strategic planning exercise to map out our priorities and goals for the next decade. As part of that effort, we have identified Healthcare as one of several Strategic Focus Areas. These Focus Areas are broad, cross-disciplinary areas in which we feel NIST as a whole has the greatest potential to improve its impact on productivity, market access, and public benefit. Moreover, they are areas that are aligned with long-term market trends and customer interests.

Although the healthcare industry is one of the major industries in the United States, it has been one of the slowest to embrace information technologies in its operations. According to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Health and Healthcare 2010, "the first major area where information technology can affect health care is in the automation of basic business practices and electronic commerce. As approximately 30% of healthcare costs are administration related, movement towards more automated electronic commerce is one way to help contain costs." National health expenditures are estimated at about fifteen percent of GDP, by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Moreover, medical cost increases are outpacing inflation, so health care providers face pressure for greater efficiency. Availability of powerful PDAs, wireless networking, mobility management middleware, and numerous medical applications are driving rapid deployment of pervasive computing in health care delivery. Recent studies indicate that up to twenty percent of practitioners now use palmtops, and a vibrant medical specialty sector has emerged; with hundreds of palmtop medical applications now available. But many issues remain in patient privacy, usability, efficiency, and effectiveness of the new systems.

The agenda for the conference covers a number of key areas with respect to Pervasive Computing, and you as participants can play a key role in these areas. This conference provides an ideal opportunity to cultivate partnerships that will make a difference - either enabling something to happen that wouldn't otherwise happen or accelerating existing advances in a meaningful way. I thank you for being here today … and look forward to collectively pursuing ways to fulfill the research and technical needs of the pervasive computing and healthcare communities.

I hope you have an informative 2 days. Thank you.