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In this Edition

CEO Report

As 2022 draws to a close, it is an appropriate time to review our efforts and achievements for the year. The past three years have been challenging, but the Board, the Executive Team and I are pleased with the progress Standards Australia has made in the past 12 months.

The organisation continued to invest in technologies, tools and systems to improve how we work and deliver on behalf of the nation.

We have made significant progress in improving the standards development process and providing better access to standards through developing new products such as Small Business Sets and striking new partnerships.

Thanks to careful planning, the organisation is also in a financially strong, and well-positioned to deliver on our goals for the immediate future.

This year we also celebrated our centenary - a significant achievement for any organisation, but particularly for one with such an important mission for the nation. I stress that our centenary is not just an anniversary: it is also an opportunity to reflect on a hundred years of achievement and also draw upon that legacy to help shape a successful future for the next hundred.

While it is important to reflect on our achievements, I recognise that none of our organisation's accomplishments would be possible without the commitment of our members, nominating organisations, contributors and staff.

Together, we have achieved much in 2022, and I thank you for your dedication and support.

On a final note, on behalf of the Standards Australia team I would like to extend a warm welcome to our organisation’s newest member of the Board, Ken Slattery, who was elected at our AGM earlier this month. Ken is the CEO of Cement Concrete & Aggregates Australia, and brings a wealth of experience to our organisation.

COP27 and our role in addressing climate change

Standards Australia's CEO, Adrian O'Connell and International Engagement Manager, Abbey Dorian at COP27.

by Adrian O'Connell

I was fortunate recently to participate in the UN’s COP27 climate change conference in Egypt as part of the ISO leadership delegation.

The event hosted thousands of policy makers and expert delegates from across the world who networked and collaborated on a wide range of topics, including the critical role standards play in addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges and delivering on climate action commitments. Standards are an essential source of know-how to give effect to many of the commitments made to address climate change, in particular the commitment to net zero by 2050. The launch of the ISO International Workshop Agreement (IWA) guidelines on achieving Net Zero was a key feature of the forum, advocating for the role of International Standards in paving the way to a low carbon global economy.

I have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of the UN COP forum to deliver effective action, however, the event did reinforce my view about Standards Australia’s crucial role in international standards bodies and in our nation’s approach to sustainable practices. At the event I reflected on the important work we are doing in the space.

Standards Australia has several key initiatives underway, all designed to deliver progress in areas where standards can have considerable impact:

  • Energy: there is a need to coordinate the introduction of smart energy technologies into legacy grids which were not designed to accommodate them. We are establishing a Smart Energy Advisory Group to help prioritise standards relating to smart energy. This group will combine technical and policy expertise to help advance technical standards
  • Hydrogen: in 2020, eight key hydrogen standards were adopted, but with demand for this cleaner energy source on the rise, more work must be done. Our Hydrogen Technologies Strategic Work Plan summarises our work to date, and outlines a pathway forward
  • Circular Economy: shifting society to re-use, repair, repurpose and/or recycle requires new thinking, frameworks and business models. Standards Australia is coordinating a Circular Economy Advisory Group to strengthen partnerships and identify immediate priority areas. We are also updating technical standards while developing new ones
  • Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG): the challenges to ESG investment are considerable, from social inequity to lack of harmonisation of frameworks and lack of trustworthy information. We are developing a one-stop-shop for ESG users, to include a policy toolkit, processes, measurements and validation tools, plus a framework of standards and regulations to help businesses marshal their approach to ESG

COP27 has been an important and educative experience for Standards Australia, and we look forward to working with you to advance our work on climate change.

Digital Engineering: Shifting the paradigm

This month, Standards Australia hosted a hybrid panel session, Digital Engineering: Shifting the paradigm in the construction sector.

The event launched Standards Australia’s initiative to engage with industry on the future of the engineering and construction sector.

For the panel, Standards Australia’s General Manager of Engagement and Communications, Adam Stingemore, was joined by Ian Oppermann, NSW Government Chief Data Scientist, and Industry Professor at UTS; Dr James Glastonbury, Executive General Manager Engineering, Technology and Innovation at McConnell Dowell; and Simon Vaux, CEO of DEOS Digital.

Together they spoke on industry drivers for change, the rise of digital twins, and the future of smart infrastructure. Watch the recording of the event via this YouTube link.

Standards key to resilient and sustainable cities

For Australian cities to avoid risks like cyber-attacks and climate change, they must be resilient.

To help strengthen our increasingly smart cities and help guide them to future success, Standards Australia’s Smart Cities Advisory Group has published a position paper that provides a framework for addressing key challenges facing smart cities.

Key findings in the paper – Security and Resilience for Smart Cities - include that smart city practitioners should:  

  • Adopt standards early to promote the interoperability and security of smart cities solutions, including by incorporating standards into ICT procurement requirements and regulation.  
  • Define data custody, use and sharing principles to better manage data flow, use and security.
  • Identify interdependencies in interconnected systems to identify vulnerabilities and ensure resilience of systems.

Read more and download the position paper here.

Lead gas installation Standard revised

Standards Australia has revised the country's lead standard for gas installations (AS/NZS 5601.1), with significant changes designed to mitigate the risk of property damage or house fires where multilayer gas pipes have been installed. Read more in our web release here.

Vale Peter Clarke

With only a couple of years of actual retirement, after a record four and a half decades of membership, we are deeply saddened by the news that Mr Peter Clarke has regrettably passed away.

For 16 years Peter was Chair of CE-012, Standards Australia’s technical committee for Aggregates and Rock for Engineering Purposes and performed much of the extensive drafting and development of new standards, along with the renewal of existing standards within the AS 1141 and AS 2758 series.

He had been an industry stalwart in his involvement with technical committees and his hard work and dedication over the years left CE-012 in an excellent position.

CE-012 committee member Professor Vute Sirivivatnanon describes Peter as a ‘rock’ and a ‘diplomat’ in strongly guiding the committee to consensus, with two new AS test methods developed for assessing the potential alkali-silica reactivity of aggregates in 2014: AS1141.60.1 and AS1141.60.2. Peter also led a team revising and updating HB79 Guidelines on minimising the risk of damage to concrete structures in Australia, which was published in 2015.

Peter was nominated by the committee and awarded the 2012 Meritorious Contribution award, which he humbly accepted on behalf of the extensive work of the committee. To be nominated for the same award in 2016 was amazing and a most deserved accolade. On behalf of Standards Australia and the CE-012 committee members we wish to pass on our sincerest condolences to Peters’ wife Mary, and the entire Clarke family.

With respect,

Tom Kovacs — Chair of CE-012 Aggregates and Rock for Engineering Purposes

In Conversation with Nathan Langford

Image source: Leilah Schubert, UTS

Nathan Langford is a member of the JT-001-14 Quantum Computing committee. He is an ARC Future Fellow and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Science at UTS, where he leads a research group, Circuit Quantum Science UTS, and the Millikelvin Quantum Science lab, a cryogenic facility for studying superconducting quantum processors. He is a member of the UTS Centre for Quantum Software and Information and on the Technical Advisory Committee of the Sydney Quantum Academy.

When and why did you become involved with standards development?

At the beginning of 2022, I joined a relatively new standards working group on quantum computing.

Quantum computing is at a very interesting stage of development as an industry. On one hand, it is rapidly expanding, including in terms of industrial efforts to build and design applications for an industry-scale quantum computer that can tackle problems of commercial interest for economic and societal benefit. On the other hand, it is still a very new, fundamental science, and there are a lot of unknown questions about what quantum computers will ultimately be good for.

Designing applications for quantum computers is a complete paradigm shift from traditional computing methods. First, you have to find applications that quantum computers are good at solving, and then have to find examples where traditional computers are bad at solving them. Because if traditional computers are already good at solving those problems, there’s no way you’re going to want to build a quantum computer to do it. But that raises an even bigger challenge - if we are only interested in problems that traditional computers can’t solve, then how do we design the quantum computers and algorithms to solve them?

How do standards impact and interact with your industry?

Currently, the answer is simply not very much at all.  Hardware developments in quantum computing rely indirectly but implicitly on the standards that support all the so-called “classical” (non-quantum) adjoining technologies (like computer control, microwave electronics, optics and photonics, etc) that provide the basic control hardware that runs our quantum computers. There is a natural impetus for quantum software development to happen in a way which is at least compatible with the machinery that drives traditional software development, but there is also a potential need to break away from these existing models in order to capture the fundamentally different character of how quantum computing works.

At a more ad hoc level, the quantum computing community has slowly been “self-organising” some sort of de facto informal standards creation, especially in the context of system benchmarking, but formal standards don’t yet play a very direct role in quantum computing development. In contrast, quantum communication technologies are perhaps slightly further down this industry development pathway, and arguably riper for the influence of standards.

Why is access to standards important?

There are a few reasons I think that the development and availability of standards is important to our broader community and specifically to our quantum computing community.

1. Quantum architectures are rapidly evolving and very heterogeneous: making useful and meaningful comparisons between different architectures and platforms is hard, especially in the context of benchmarking, and especially when they can operate so fundamentally differently. We have already seen examples where the community has, in time and sometimes bumpily, converged to commonly accepted definitions, but we have also seen examples where different approaches and parties still just advocate for an approach that casts their own niche in the best light. Standards can help bridge that gap.

2. Quantum is interdisciplinary: Quantum technologies, especially quantum computing technologies, are predicted to have impact across many, many diverse sectors of society and the economy. People working in quantum come from very diverse backgrounds as a result, and we need that to diversify even further. But communicating between different fields is very hard and requires a lot of work. Good standards can help mediate communication between disparate communities and help to facilitate better and more efficient collaborations.

3. Quantum is deep tech:  Arthur C Clarke’s so-called third law is that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Quantum tech falls into this category. Because it is based on the physics of extreme scales (very small, very cold, very few), its building blocks are concepts that we do not tend to develop good intuition for naturally. Building up an intuition for quantum physics takes work and study, not to mention a willingness to try to understand the maths. And making advances in quantum tech requires people to operate simultaneously at the forefront of both science and engineering.  In this sort of environment, it can be very hard to tell charlatans and snake-oil sellers from legit, cutting-edge players, even for researchers within the field. Standards will be an important tool for trying to solve this problem.

4. Quantum is rapidly developing: Progress is moving so fast that it can be difficult to keep up, even for researchers working in the thick of it. Standards could help smooth that path and avoid some of the worst roadblocks. However, one of the big challenges for developing standards in such an environment is to do enough to be of benefit, but not so much as to impede progress.

5. Structures and principles are so new and different that it is hard to both imagine and plan for what it might be possible to do with quantum technology, especially quantum computing. We are already starting to face problems with how AI has been developing way ahead of discussions about ethics and guiding principles and regulation, which are really struggling to catch up. And this is causing big problems, both in terms of regulation and societal backlash.  Quantum tech is potentially in a similar position and having clear standards could help avoid some of these pitfalls.

What is the future of standards development in your area of work?

Hopefully, the future of standardisation in quantum computing will see increasing engagement and broad consensus from across the community. It is hard to start developing standards from scratch in such a radically different technology and there is a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem in that it will probably be hard to get broad engagement if the standards being produced are not high quality, but that is hard to achieve without good engagement. I guess the most obvious places to see standardisation developed initially are in the areas of terminology definitions and performance benchmarking. Other areas that might emerge sooner than later include how to program and control quantum computers and creating updated specifications for noise and performance requirements for enabling technologies (like lasers, optical fibres and microwave electronics).

New committee member agreement

Standards Australia is deploying an improved Committee Member Agreement to allow for electronic signatures and other improvements. The new Agreement is more streamlined and accommodates recent changes to Standards Australia's technologies and systems.

In addition, the Agreement outlines the benefits of committee membership, such as access to the Standards Australia learning platform, networking opportunities with national and potentially international experts, recognition of participation through certificates of appreciation, and use of Standards Australia’s name and logo on social media.

Current committee members who signed the previous Committee Member Deed may continue to participate as a Committee Member in accordance with the Committee Member Deed. However, new members will be asked to sign the new Committee Member Agreement before they can join a Standards Australia technical committee.

If you have any questions about the new Committee Member Agreement please contact our Stakeholder Engagement team.

Aged Standards

To keep our catalogue contemporary and relevant, we are seeking feedback on a number of Aged Standards (documents over ten years old), belonging to inactive Technical Committees.

Let us know if these standards are still used by your industry or community by Monday 19 December 2022.

Learn more on our Aged Standards Review page.

International Update

Standards Australia represents Australia on the two major international standards development bodies, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). Our activities are reported on our International Updates page.

Click here to view our highlights from November (PDF):

  • IEC General Meeting 2022
  • Management consultancy: New Field of Technical Activity
  • Oil and gas industry must become sustainable too

Sector Update

Access the latest standards development news in your industry sector via our Sectors page.

Drafts Open for Comment

The public comment process provides an opportunity for stakeholders and members of the public to make valuable contributions. With the launch of our new public comment platform, draft standards currently open for comment are now available via Connect.