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The IT costs associated with storing, transmitting and processing the large volumes of genomic data produced by the latest generation of genome sequencing technology will soon largely exceed the costs of sequencing. An appropriate representation and efficient compression, transport and sharing of genomic data are widely recognized as a critical element to fully exploit the potential of genomic data usage for scientific and public health purposes. This requires efficient, perennial and reliable solutions offering a complete framework – beyond compression – for the representation of the genomic information.

Motivated by these facts, the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) – a joint working group of the International Standardization Organization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) – has worked with ISO Technical Committee 276/Working Group 5, integrators of biological data workflows, to produce MPEG-G, a new open standard to compress, store, transmit and securely process sequencing data. In its 30 years of activity, MPEG has already developed many generations of successful standards that have transformed the world of media from analog to digital (e.g., MP3 and AAC for audio, and AVC/H.264 and HEVC/H.265 for video). These standards enable the interoperability and the integration we all witness in the digital media field.