One of Standards New Zealand’s key business strategies is to develop robust, affordable standards faster. As a smaller country on the world stage, we consequently look to international standards first to see what existing solutions may help us solve problems, build better businesses, improve regulation, and create better products and services.
It is also a requirement of the Standards and Accreditation Act to consider international standards first, before deciding if we need a bespoke, New Zealand-specific standards solution.
To consider international standards as a potential solution, the commissioners of standards need to research the international landscape early on, to see what standards may already exist. Previously, this meant having to purchase overseas standards during this discovery phase.
To facilitate the consideration of international standards, we already have relationships with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). We have now started to partner with other leading standards bodies around the world to provide the ability to research and review international standards at the scoping stage of standards development.
The arrangements with ISO, IEC and CEN, plus new reciprocal arrangements with ASTM International and Underwriters Laboratories mean we can see what’s available elsewhere before we set up a standards working committee and bring together technical experts on a topic.
This is a significant step forward in making it easier to identify if an international standard is relevant and suitable for a New Zealand situation and if it could be adopted. Any proposed adoptions will be done in consultation with the relevant standards body, with the appropriate licensing arrangements put in place.
After reviewing what’s available internationally, potential commissioners may determine that a New Zealand standard is required. In this scenario, relevant international standards will still play an important role to help us understand what’s being done elsewhere and if a reference to an existing international standard is beneficial for New Zealand users.
Any information we would like to reproduce in a locally-developed standard will still need to be requested from the relevant international standards body on a case-by-case under our existing process.
This initiative goes a long way in supporting faster, more affordable standards development. An ‘international first approach’ can provide potential solutions to issues, help compliance with regulations, and create commercial benefits such as trading opportunities.