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In this Edition

CEO report

Over a period of two weeks in September we held our annual nominating organisation forum. Through six remote sessions we engaged with representatives of the different organisations that nominate the over 5000 experts to our technical committees. These sessions were an opportunity to update nominating organisations on Standards Australia's continuing program of transformation and most importantly, listen as to where we can improve or adjust our processes to better suit our contributors and stakeholders.

The feedback received from the forum is key in assisting us effectively execute and build on our objective of adding greater value and providing exceptional service. Our goal over the coming years is to build the capacity, capabilities and platforms that will enable Standards Australia to better serve our standards developers, users and buyers.

Providing improved solutions for our customers has seen Standards Australia recently take on responsibility for assisting customers with copyright licence and permission requests as well as launch a new online construction dictionary. These are two important initiatives that will support different sections of our standards community and I encourage you to read more information about these changes below.

I’m also very pleased to advise that our Senior International Engagement Manager, Karen Batt, was recently elected to the ISO Technical Management Board (TMB) for a 3 year term 2021-2023. With GMO Kareen Riley-Takos elected as a member of the IEC Standards Management Board (SMB) last year; Australian contributor Elaine Attwood receiving the 2020 ISO Simon Holland Award and Karen now elected to the ISO TMB, Australia can be very proud that it is represented by a range of highly capable, experienced and professional women.

—Adrian O'Connell, Chief Executive

Definitions from A to Z

In an aim to bring further clarity and consistency to industry, Standards Australia, alongside the ABCB, has launched the National Dictionary of Building and Plumbing Terms. The website enables individuals to search for definitions used in the National Construction Code (NCC) and Australian (or joint AS/NZS) Standards referenced in the NCC.

Read more in our recent release.

Building resilience in Australia’s supply chain

In Australia’s largest cities, an estimated 42% of items used in households arrive via shipping container. The impact of COVID-19 has affected supply chains in Australia and around the world.

To pave a way forward for Australian industry, Standards Australia has published a Discussion Paper calling for feedback on how standards might shift in response. Standards Australia looks forward to discussions with industry and government as this process commences.

Read more in our recent release.

Speedier pathways

Are you seeking a fast way to benchmark a new technology, product or approach?

Standards Australia provides alternative solutions to Australian Standards for use when technical content is required, and traditional consensus standardisation may not deliver the optimal solution, at the right speed.

The two main alternatives are through the development of a Technical Specification or Interim Standard. More information can be found in our Speed to Market Pathways (PDF).

Copyright licensing standards

Standards Australia now can deal directly with customers for their copyright licenses and permissions.

By removing the risk of copyright infringement, your business can achieve a level of confidence around your training materials, business instructions, reports and tenders.

To find out more about the new process or to get in touch with the licensing team visit our License Content page.

Elaine Attwood nabs International Award

Representative for the Consumers Federation of Australia, Elaine Attwood has received the ISO Simon Holland Award for 2020. The award, aligned with ISO’s Excellence award, recognises individuals’ major contributions to ISO’s technical work. Elaine has made significant contributions to the work and community of ISO/TC 229 Nanotechnologies.

Standards development finds new normal

Remote meetings have now become a core part of the way we work, and we have been monitoring the overall engagement of our contributors and staff through surveys and regular check-ins.

In a survey conducted in May 2020, there were strong indicators that in the future, contributors would prefer a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings.

Participants cited the benefits of virtual meetings include time and cost savings as well as shorter and more productive meetings. Associated challenges have been building rapport and communicating effectively with fellow participants, and technology issues. Overall, now that web conferences are the new norm, many are finding this to be a productive form of collaboration.

In conversation with Geoff Clarke

Geoff Clarke is the chair and expert member of several IT and governance standards committees and is employed by Microsoft. He works with national standards bodies, government and industry experts to ensure that Microsoft and its customers can achieve their strategic goals through the innovative and responsible use of IT.

Geoff is nominated by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) to represent that industry on a number of Standards Australia committees on topics such as Governance, Cloud Computing, IT Security and Artificial Intelligence.

Standards Australia (SA): How did you get involved in standards development?

Geoff Clarke (GC): I was working for Microsoft in Brisbane in 2007 when a colleague from our headquarters in USA said he was going to attend an ISO/IEC JTC 1 Plenary at the Gold Coast. He asked if I would like to present on JPEG XR, a new standard for digital photography. After doing some research on where that standard was going and the work that Microsoft was starting to support in Windows, I could see its potential, not just for more accurate photos, but for supporting the relatively new world of digital preservation. The JTC 1 meeting was great, with so many interesting people from all over the world and such a variety of IT related topics.

A few years later there was a position available for a “Regional Standards Manager” to be based in Australia, I jumped at the opportunity. While I’m not an expert in SC 29 (the group working on JPEG and MPEG) I’m happy to say that I’m a member of Australia’s JTC 1 Strategic Advisory Committee, so the interesting people and variety of IT related topics continues.

SA: How do standards interact with and impact your industry?

GC: I’m sure a lot of people in many industries would say the same thing – our industry relies heavily on standards because we need our various products and services to work together, and we need to explain our capabilities so our customers, suppliers and regulators know we can be trusted. That’s certainly true in the IT industry where, despite the constant innovation and change, standards are essential for interoperability and trust.

SA: How can standards support the use of growing technologies such as Artificial Intelligence?

GC: The standardisation work we’re doing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quite exciting because we all realise the impact we can have on shaping not only the technology itself but how it is used in the world. The Australian committee mirrors the international committee ISO/IEC SC 42 and our committee is comprised of not only geeks like me, but also lawyers and ethicists and safety experts. We’re working hard to see not only good technology but to bake in the responsible use of that technology as well.

AI is a very fast-developing technology. And with an international standard typically taking about 3 years to develop, you might think that is too slow. But the basic principles, the governance, the architecture and even the terminology don’t move that fast. And all these points really need to be decided and explained because those standards are what is really going to accelerate the development of AI and its adoption across the world. With hundreds of experts from more than 30 countries actively participating, it’s worth taking the time to get it right.

SA: What is the future of standardisation?

GC: I think international standardisation – particularly through ISO and IEC – has a great future simply because it brings together so many experts from so many countries to create solutions that can benefit us all. These forums are carefully constructed and managed to ensure a safe and equitable process to get to a consensus.

The coronavirus has forced us all to work together virtually, but that lack of physical travel means more people can participate in these eMeetings. It’s made some of the work – like brainstorming – a bit harder, but overall we’re going to see more participation and more “mixed mode” meetings when we finally can sit down together again.

The world of IT standards has changed a lot over the years. In the past we were mostly concerned about interoperability, portability, and integration. A lot of that technical detail is now the realm of open-source software, so we see less of those kinds of technical standards at the international level. As IT matures and its capability continues to grow and impact more of what we do, we will still see “foundational” standards describing concepts, architectures and vocabulary, but more of the focus will be on how the technology is used. That means we’ll be working on standards that describe its intended uses, its impact, the management of it and how it should be governed. ISO is well placed to provide the forums for that, and Standards Australia is here to help us ensure those standards work for Australia and help our local businesses participate in the global marketplace.

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.

Highlights from September (PDF)

  • Cold Chain Logistics: Proposal for a New Field of Technical Activity
  • Cannabis Facilities and Operations: Proposal for International Workshop
  • Robotics: Proposal for a new Technical Committee

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. View draft standards currently open for comment.