Standards New Zealand recently hosted two unique roundtables in parallel with the 2019 Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC)-International Organization for Standardization (ISO) workshop and PASC AGM in Wellington.
For the first time ever in New Zealand, we had the Presidents and General Secretaries of the ISO and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) available for selected meetings with local business, government and industry leaders.
This provided a great opportunity to discuss trends in international standards and how they can boost innovation, improve safety and remove barriers to trade in this country.
Here are the key themes
1. Standards bodies need to collaborate
International standards organisations like the ISO, IEC, and ITU have worked on a parallel track previously. However, there is an increasing need and desire for them to collaborate more closely in addressing international issues. There are so many areas of mutual interest and pressing concern that all standards-focussed organisations need to collaborate and cooperate more closely.
Attendee quote: ‘The ISO and IEC are working more closely together and see the opportunities ahead. It is a priority to set a new relationship for the two organisations.’
2. Digital transformation provides huge opportunities
The standards system is under stress. There is an increasing need for those within the standards ecosystem to come up with new ideas and help it become more nimble and agile. We need to keep pace with technology changes and increasing digitalisation, as it provides opportunities to modify our approach to standards development and adoption. Standards bodies and committees need to be open to, and explore, ‘non-traditional’ ways of working.
Attendee quote: ‘Technology is moving fast. Digital transformation is changing the way we live and work. There’s a huge opportunity to take advantage of.’
3. Deliver standards quicker, but don’t lose integrity
The integrity of the standards system is fundamental to its success, particularly the consensus that allows key stakeholders to participate. The process takes time, so the challenge is how to serve government and industry better with quicker delivery, but without sacrificing the standards value proposition.
Attendee quote: ‘We have a dilemma; how do we create standards in a more efficient manner, yet remain inclusive and consensus-based?’
4. Decision makers need education on standards
There’s a need to educate policymakers and businesses on how important standards are and how they can be used in regulatory regimes to support policy objectives. Often, the value and best use of standards is not fully understood, or they are ‘invisible’. We need to tell our story better.
Attendee quote: ‘Standards are important but also invisible.’
5. Standards organisations need fresh blood
There’s a need to involve millennials in the development of standards. The IEC has a young professionals’ programme which is helping to change things. Digital natives who have grown up with the current technology are needed for technical committees. This needs to be fostered.
Attendee quote: ‘People who grow up with this technology are wired differently.’
6. The pace of change is exponential
The pace of digital change is exponential, with new, interconnected technologies coming on to the market constantly. For example, electric vehicles have introduced new batteries, electronics and charging stations – each of which needs its own standards. This supports the need for quicker and more agile standards development.
Attendee quote: ‘Standards are needed quickly to test these new systems so we can be sure the products perform properly.’