The internet of things (IoT), smart cities, smart grids and cyber security are some of the key areas of IEC work, which require the adoption of more creative ways of working with industry and other organizations than ever before.
Addressing his first Council meeting as President since taking up the role in January 2017, Shannon began by thanking three IEC leaders – Dr Junji Nomura, his predecessor as President for his leadership, Dr Åke Danemar, outgoing Treasurer, and Dr Ulrich Spindler, outgoing Chair of the Conformity Assessment Board (CAB), for their dedication and hard work (see also Don’t be a fool, follow the rule and Exciting times ahead in this issue).
Through its standardization and conformity assessment activities, IEC plays a vital role in the advancement of technology, the facilitation of trade and, its main purpose, the improved safety, security and well-being of people everywhere.
The President noted, “We must never let our past accomplishments become a justification for complacency. We can never allow ourselves to say, ‘We have always done it this way’. We must recognize that we are not living in ordinary times and our ability to continue to be an organization the world looks to for leadership will depend on how well we adapt to the changes taking place all around us. Perhaps the most obvious changes that we all see are the rapid developments in technology that affect all of us”.
Many advanced technologies allow IEC to involve more people from more parts of the world in its processes. “We can collaborate with other organizations more effectively and share the benefits of its work more quickly. We have to because our customers want it and it is what the world needs”.
In order to advance technologies, IEC must examine how it works and find creative ways to improve processes. It must also partner with more small and medium enterprises and groups such as consortia, which have not previously participated, but are the preferred place for standards development for many advanced technologies.
Moreover, because of the convergence of technologies, everyone must be adept at working across disciplines. The President gave examples of some steps that have already been taken towards achieving this:
The President commended IEC General Secretary, Frans Vreeswijk for his letter to the National Committees (NCs), in which he set out important steps to increase transparency, communication and collaboration with IEC. Steps already taken in the past year include:
IEC has spread the benefits of electricity and electrotechnology to the world for the past 111 years. It has achieved this through broad international cooperation and bringing global experts together to carry out standardization activities.
Despite the astounding changes that have occurred during this time, the technical revolution is just beginning and by implication, so is the work of IEC.
The President concluded with the following thoughts:
“We also know that our fundamental belief in the very concept of international cooperation and international trade is under attack today in ways that none of us could have imagined just a few years ago. So this is the time to re-affirm our belief that broad international consensus on important issues can still be achieved, that openness and transparency are the best way to achieve that consensus, and that collaboration with like-minded organizations is the fastest route to progress. Your commitment to IEC's vital mission and your willingness to share your expertise and experience are what the reputation of this great organization is built on”.