Worldwide standards?

A new agreement between the International Electrotechnical Commission and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers seeks to enhance the creation of global technical standards.

A new agreement between the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) seeks to enhance the creation of global technical standards.

The agreement, which was signed at the IEC General Meeting in Beijing on October 29, involves a dual-logo arrangement in which the logos of both organisations will appear on IEEE standards accepted and approved by the IEC.

Under the agreement, the IEC will evaluate new IEEE electronics, telecommunications, power generation and other electrotechnical standards for international status. To begin with, the IEC and IEEE will identify IEEE standards candidates for the IEC’s standardisation process. The IEC Standardisation Management Board will then decide which IEEE standards complement the IEC’s technical work programme.

Those chosen will be processed by IEC technical committees and published as IEC/IEEE Dual Logo International Standards, available for adoption by IEC member countries as their national standards.

‘Our agreement with the IEEE has many ramifications,’ says IEC General Secretary Ronnie Amit. ‘It will broaden our International Standards collection and ensure that valuable work undertaken by the IEEE benefits the entire IEC community. In addition, our endorsement will give those IEEE standards selected greater market acceptance.’

‘This agreement is one way we are responding to the call for processes that make standardisation more efficient. It also supports our intent to follow the position expressed by the World Trade Organisation that asks for openness, transparency, due process, coherence and market relevance, among other factors, in global trade.’

According to Judy Gorman, Managing Director of the IEEE Standards Association, the agreement will encourage a healthy blend of national, regional and international standards. ‘It sends industry a clear message that major technical standards developers are cooperating to create global standards and to eliminate the duplication that can entail unnecessary expenditures,’ she says.

‘From a global trade perspective, the agreement makes IEEE standards more accessible. It also gives countries and regions that hope to play a greater role in world markets a complementary path for international standardisation.’

The dual-logo agreement also requires that the IEC and IEEE share any maintenance activity they perform on standards covered by the agreement to the benefit of the technical community.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) comprises 122 countries – 63 member ‘National Committees’ and a further 59 countries that participate in the IEC Affiliate Country Programme. It prepares and publishes international standards for electrical, electronic and related technologies. These serve as a basis for national standardisation, in accordance with the World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement, and as references when drafting international tenders and contracts. The IEC Catalogue currently comprises over 4’800 International Standards, Specifications and Technical Reports.

The IEC charter embraces technologies including electronics, magnetics and electromagnetics, electroacoustics, multimedia, telecommunication, and energy production and distribution, as well as associated general disciplines such as terminology and symbols, electromagnetic compatibility, measurement and performance, dependability, design and development, safety and the environment.

For its part, the IEEE has more than 375,000 members in approximately 150 countries. Through its members, it is a leading authority in disciplines ranging from aerospace, computers and telecommunications to biomedicine, electric power and consumer electronics. It produces nearly 30% of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering, computing and control technology fields and sponsors or cosponsors more than 300 technical conferences each year.

The IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA), a globally recognised standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process. It has a portfolio of more than 870 completed standards and more than 400 standards in development. Over 15,000 IEEE members worldwide belong to IEEE-SA and voluntarily participate in standards activities.