166th SMB meeting held in Shanghai

Report on key decisions taken by the SMB

IEC Standardization Management Board (SMB) held its most recent meeting during the IEC General Meeting in Shanghai. Key topics covered include the UN Sustainable Development Goals, digital transformation, promoting regional balance and the implementation of the IEC Masterplan.

SMB Members wearing the IEC SDGs badge
SMB has agreed on an SDGs communications plan to engage IEC stakeholders

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The United Nations defines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the core of its blueprint for building a better world by 2030.

The SMB adhoc Group 84 was set up with the aim of educating the IEC community about the SDGs and formally identifying how the IEC contributes to each SDG through its standardization and conformity assessment systems.

After reviewing the interim report submitted by ahG 84, the SMB has decided to extend its lifetime until June 2020. It has agreed with the ahG 84 recommendations including the identification and promotion of the SDGs in IEC work, the implementation of new IEC templates that can highlight how the IEC impacts the SDGs and the development of a communications plan to engage IEC stakeholders.

AhG 84 will deliver its final report at the SMB meeting in June 2020.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new, or modify existing, business processes to meet changing business and market requirements. Strategic Group 12 defines the aspects of digital transformation that are relevant to the IEC and its standardization activities.

As a first step, SG 12 has developed the base classification model of machine-readable standards with a focus on the level of utility to machines, from paper form to fully machine interpretable form.

The SMB has now called on SG 12 to seek harmonization of its machine-readable standard concepts with ISO and CENELEC.

Promoting diversity and regional balance

In June 2018, the SMB set up ahG 82 to help the IEC ensure that the participation in technical leadership positions is representative of National Committees from different regions.

In its report submitted to the SMB, ahG 82 agreed that more involvement is needed from different countries in the development of standards and, to ensure that IEC Standards remain globally relevant, it is essential to ensure a balanced geographical representation in IEC technical work.

AhG 82 made several recommendations for the Council Board, IEC Academy and IEC Central Office (CO). It called on the Council Board Task Force on Diversity to develop an overall IEC policy statement on diversity, including geographical balance, and to determine the criteria for evaluating diversity. The report recommended that the IEC Academy provide tools and training to develop leadership skills and that the IEC CO provide an annual report tracking the geographical breakdown of SyCs/TCs/SCs leadership. These recommendations have been accepted by the SMB.

The report also makes several recommendations regarding secretariats of technical committees. It suggested the implementation of a programme similar to the ISO twinning programme in which the lead partner provides training and guidance to build the capacity of the twinned partner. The report also recommends amending the ISO/IEC Directives to include diversity as an attribute for leadership positions. In order to further examine these recommendations specific to secretariats, the SMB has set up ahG 85 on IEC Secretariats.

With the work of ahG 82 completed, the group will be disbanded.

Masterplan implementation

The SMB is directly responsible for 13 Masterplan implementation goals. As of the end of 2019, the SMB is on target to meet its goals in the Masterplan Implementation Plan (MPIP).

As per the MPIP, the SMB has developed an outreach plan to engage relevant stakeholders and approved the guidelines for remote participation in technical meetings (see below). It has also circulated a report with the criteria for cases where direct industry participation in technical work could be appropriate.

In addition, the SMB is on track to meet three additional MPIP goals by the end of the year. Reports on how to increase international participation by regions and an analysis of the gaps and opportunities for the IEC to collaborate with other organizations are underway and will be finalized by the end of the year. The SMB will also complete its evaluation of 10% of technical committees on their role in fostering partnerships with other organizations.

Simplifying participation in meetings

The SMB has agreed to allow remote participation for TC/SC plenary meetings. This is the result of a trial initiated by the SMB to explore the feasibility of remote participation following its introduction in IEC working group meetings.

The SMB has approved the following guidelines that outline the basic principles for remote participation:

  • P-member obligation: remote participation at a TC/SC meeting is counted as fulfilling the NC obligation to maintain P-member status although it is at the discretion of TC/SC officers and the IEC CO Technical Officer.
  • Voting rights: remote participants can vote and comment on any agenda item, although it is noted that voting and commenting can be made only by the Head of Delegate or a designated delegate as per IEC rules.
  • Number of remote participants: no limits are placed on the number of remote participants. However, TC/SC officers may limit the number of remote participants for technical reasons so long as notifications are made prior to the meeting and limitations are imposed equitably to all P-members.
  • Provided on a best effort basis: remote participation is conducted on a “best effort” basis and remote participants will not be able to require that agenda items be revisited in cases of technical glitches such as, for example, a faulty network connection.

As a next step, ahG 76, which developed the draft guidelines and reviewed the results of the remote participation trial, is now tasked with preparing detailed implementation guidelines based on the above principles.

New work areas

The National Committee of China proposed the establishment of a new technical committee on power system stability control systems and equipment. According to the proposal, power system stability has become a major concern with several large-scale blackout events attributed to problems with these systems. A similar proposal has been made by the National Committee of Japan and has been merged with the proposal from the National Committee of China.

After consultation with the Advisory Committee on Electricity Transmission and Distribution (ACTAD), the SMB has decided to refer the question to IEC TC 8: System aspects of electrical energy supply. TC 8 has confirmed its willingness to manage standardization activities related to grid stability and control. A questionnaire will be sent out to TC 8 members to determine their opinion on the establishment of a new subcommittee (SC 8C).

Thomas Edison Awards

The SMB presented its Thomas Edison Award to four individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the IEC:

Created in 2010, the Thomas Edison Award recognizes exceptional achievement, dedicated service and significant contributions to the IEC by officers in IEC technical committees and subcommittees.

Next meeting

The next SMB meeting is scheduled to take place on 12 February 2020 in New Delhi, India.