Looking to the future

2020 is set to be an exciting year for the IEC

By Zoë Smart

New year, new tech and a new Secretary General and CEO at the helm of the IEC

At the beginning of the year, we bade farewell to Frans Vreeswijk who held the position of Secretary General and CEO of the IEC for the past eight years. During his time at the IEC, Vreeswijk worked tirelessly to raise the organization's visibility and create new opportunities for cooperation. He is succeeded by Philippe Metzger, whose previous positions include that of Director General of the Swiss Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM). Metzger, who was appointed by the IEC Council, brings to the IEC his solid leadership skills and strong vision for driving the organization forward. 

On the Conformity Assessment side, IECRE and IECEx have both welcomed new Chairs. Alistair Mackinnon is the new Chair of the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications, while Paul Meanwell takes over as Chair of the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Explosive Atmospheres. They talked to e-tech about their journeys in their respective industries and how they see the future of Conformity Assessment.

In January, the Consumer Electronics Forum (CES) once again brought to the forefront the newest trends and developments in tech. From gadgets to AI and automation, technology is disrupting not only our lives as individuals but businesses and society as a whole. With the excitement of new possibilities comes the uncertainty of dealing with issues that haven't been encountered before. International standards can both help eliminate barriers to technology adoption and provide frameworks to help ensure smoother transitions.

For example, the IEC and ISO joint technical committee, ISO/IEC JTC 1 and its various subcommittees, work on areas such as artificial intelligence but ensuring they take an ecosystem approach which addresses not only innovation and speed of adoption but also wider issues such as societal and ethical concerns. And as more and more businesses incorporate AI technologies, standards can help facilitate client trust in organizations. Yet other standards address the complexities of smart cities and their ICT requirements.

The new Chair of IEC Technical Committee (TC) 100, Ulrike Haltrich, talks to e-tech about her vision for the TC, which includes continuing standardization work that improves people's quality of life, and making environmental aspects a key priority.

Working hard to bring awareness of the circular economy and material efficiency to technical committees is ACEA, the IEC Advisory Committee on Environmental Aspects. Its Chair, Solange Blaszkowski and other industry experts, outline the important role international standards can play in helping businesses and industry as a whole transition to a more sustainable, circular economy.