The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) represents Canada at the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission. By taking on international leadership positions and being involved in key standardization committees, Canada has considerable input into standardization at the international level. This enables Canadian participants to improve Canada’s ability to compete globally by influencing and shaping marketplace rules.
In October 2017, SCC led the Canadian delegation in attendance at the 81st General Meeting of the IEC. The theme of the five-day meeting, which was held in Vladivostok, Russia, was Standardizing Diversity. Highlights of Canada’s activities and discussions are presented below.
Canadians in Leadership Positions
SCC seeks to provide value to Canada through international leadership, and we recruit and support the most qualified experts in strategic areas to strengthen Canada’s voice on the global stage in organizations like the IEC. Having Canadian experts in important positions such as these gives Canada a strong voice in the decision-making process and will help ensure Canadian competitiveness in the years to come.
At the meeting, two Canadians were elected to key positions within the IEC. Shawn Paulsen was elected as both IEC Vice-President (a first-ever for Canada) and Chair of the IEC’s Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) for the 2018–2020 term, and Marty Cole was elected as a member of the IEC CAB, which manages and supervises the IEC's conformity assessment activities.
Mr. Cole was also appointed as the new IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres (IECEx) Vice-Chairman for the 2018–2020 term. IECEx works to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for safe use in explosive atmospheres—which includes everything from gas stations to sugar refineries.
Additionally, Jacques Régis, the president of the Canadian National Committee of the IEC (CANC/IEC) and former president of the IEC, was appointed as the Convenor of the IEC Masterplan Implementation Task Force. This group, which will consist of 12 regionally balanced national committees, will establish a strategic direction for the implementation of the IEC’s Masterplan, which sets out the organization’s strategic objectives.
Striving for Better Regional Balance
One of SCC’s major goals while working within international standardization forums has been to achieve greater regional balance in decision-making forums. The election and appointment of Canadian leaders to key positions is one way of achieving this, and both IEC and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) have recognized that regions, such as the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas, are seeking more input into international standardization.
To this end, SCC is a member of the Asia-Pacific Cooperation Forum (APCF) and the Forum of IEC National Committees of the Americas (FINCA) to ensure adequate representation of regional priorities at the IEC. These two bodies represent the common regional interests of their member nations’ concerns at the IEC.
At the General Meeting, a report was presented that detailed the regional imbalance in key positions at the IEC. As a result of the report, the APCF—led by Canada and China—agreed to establish an IEC working group that will develop a proposal on achieving better regional balance. By preparing and presenting this report and driving the working group forward, SCC is embracing its regional and international leadership role in order to ensure global perspectives are fully considered.
In order to increase the voice of FINCA at the IEC level, the two organizations signed a Cooperation Agreement during the meeting in Vladivostok. The goal of the agreement is to establish better communications and a stronger relationship between FINCA and the IEC, to facilitate world trade and—most importantly, from a regional balance perspective—to increase the involvement of experts from the Americas, including Canada, in the various committees of the IEC.
SCC as a Trusted Advisor
Building on our position as a regional leader, SCC also completed a Cooperation Agreement with the Instituto Nacional de Calidad (INACAL), the national standards body of Peru. This agreement leveraged the existing relationship between SCC and INACAL and is a continuation of SCC’s ongoing capacity-building work. As part of the agreement, SCC will assess INACAL’s standards development system against prescribed requirements.
This innovative initiative follows a similar capacity development project successfully conducted with the Instituto de Normas Técnicas (INTECO), Costa Rica’s national standards body, in 2016. As part of the agreement with INTECO, SCC provided an attestation of their compliance against prescribed requirements that align with provisions in the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement. This work is part of SCC’s ongoing commitment to be a trusted advisor and regional leader, and our capacity to provide meaningful and reliable guidance is recognized by our neighbours.
Staying Ahead of Emerging Trends
An additional exciting development at the General Meeting was the publication of the latest IEC White Paper on Edge Intelligence. The IEC publishes white papers annually to identify and explore technological trends and establish priorities for technical and conformity assessment work.
The latest white paper is on one of these trends. As more and more devices are connected to information technology networks—resulting from the Internet of Things, among other emerging technologies—central processing centres in “the cloud” are being pushed to their limits. Edge Intelligence is an innovation intended to address this by reducing the need to centrally process data in the cloud, and instead process it locally—at “the edge” of the cloud, to carry the metaphor forward.
To make Edge Intelligence possible, though, standards will be required in diverse fields. By actively engaging with IEC’s Market Strategy Board, SCC is able to stay on top of these trends and ensure that Canadian experts are involved in the committees setting standards for them.
Canada’s presence on these international technical committees is about more than just standards development—it’s about the economy, and the ways SCC can provide value to Canada. One planned upcoming white paper is on Artificial Intelligence, the development of which will have massive effects on almost every aspect of our lives. Many of Canada’s shortlisted Innovation Superclusters Initiative consortia involve information technologies like the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, so Canada’s global competitiveness is supported by our continued presence in these discussions.
Pictured from left to right: Lynne Gibbens, Canadian National Committee of the IEC Secretary; Ed Tymofichuk, Canadian Council Board representative; Shawn Paulsen, newly elected IEC Vice-President and Conformity Assessment Board Chair; Jacques Régis, Canadian National Committee of the IEC President; Tony Capel, Canadian Standardization Management Board representative; Chantal Guay, Vice-President Standards and International Relations, SCC.