You are the IEC

IEC General Secretary addresses Council

By Gabriela Ehrlich

During his address to Council, the IEC General Secretary & CEO, Frans Vreeswijk, provided a brief overview of key accomplishments since Tokyo and drew the audience’s attention to a number of topics of high importance for the future relevance of the Commission.

Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary in Minsk IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk during his address to Council

Protecting copyright and IP

Developing a Standard is like preparing for a concert. Like the members of an orchestra, under the guidance of the conductor, many different experts participate and contribute to the standardization process. While each of them knows how to play their own instrument and partition, it is only their combined effort that will lead to a consensus that satisfies the needs of industry. IEC publications are the result of the contributions of many different experts from many countries and the IEC is the guardian that holds and defends the intellectual property and copyrights of this work on behalf of the whole community.

In its role as conductor, the IEC helps ensure that everyone plays together harmoniously. We also make certain that the end-result benefits all and is not appropriated without proper recognition by outside organizations. The fact is: the business model for international standardization is increasingly under attack. The call for free Standards makes it necessary that the copyright and intellectual property contained in IEC International Standards is better protected, in the interest of the whole contributing community. To do so, the IEC has put in place a number of measures.

In this context, to strengthen the recognition and awareness of the IEC brand and copyright, National Committees will need to officially recognize the IEC copyright both in national and regional adoptions and derivatives of IEC publications. All of them will bear the IEC logo and the IEC copyright statement.

Increasing awareness of IEC work

With the increasing integration of electricity and electronics in traditional and emerging products and services, the number of industry players that could benefit from IEC work is growing exponentially. Often new industry players are not aware of the IEC. Broader recognition of IEC work and a stronger IEC brand will make it easier for them to discover and participate in the important work the IEC accomplishes for industry, but also for regulators and the end-consumer. This will make IEC publications better, more relevant and easier for all to adopt and use.

Building the IEC brand

The IEC brand represents a high level of trust. It is synonymous with quality, safety, interoperability and many other positive values. This reputation lends the IEC global authority and credibility. The IEC trademark is a valuable asset and we have stepped up its protection, actively policing its use around the world.

The IEC encourages every one of its members to benefit directly from the IEC brand and contribute in making it even stronger. IEC National Committees are the sole official representative of the IEC in their country. It is fully to their advantage if they more broadly communicate their unique position within their market.

Encourage stakeholder involvement

To encourage wide stakeholder involvement, we need to ensure that the benefits of participation outweigh its cost. That means that we have to put in place new ways to develop International Standards and reduce the time standards developers have to invest.

Strong involvement by industry in management decisions can help increase their interest and active participation in NC and IEC work at all levels. NCs also need to more actively involve regulatory bodies. These face many challenges as technologies cut across more sectors and increasingly reach beyond national borders. Here IEC work can help regulators identify the right solutions. In the IEC they are able to share their needs so that Standards can be more easily adopted at the national level.

Systems work is further expanding

With technology convergence and the increasing speed of innovation, individual companies can no longer develop everything alone. Never before have businesses been as competitive, and never before was the need for collaboration as big as it is today. A special breed of Standards is needed to enable this broad cooperation on increasingly big systems.

Over the past months the IEC has created six Systems Evaluation Groups (SEGs), two of which have now started standardization work as Systems Committees (SyCs). Experts from many different organizations have been joining their forces on this neutral and independent platform.

Driving Smart City development

IEC work for Smart Cities is a good illustration of the systems approach. IEC work impacts electric power and all the hardware that drives services and infrastructure in cities. We are talking transportation, safety and cybersecurity, water and waste management, cooling and ventilation to name but a few. Everything that uses electricity and contains electronics to move, function or collect data is impacted. Nevertheless, no single organization can develop all the Standards that are needed for Smart Cities. There is a need to combine specific know-how beyond traditional boundaries to create a bigger whole. Sometimes one organization will lead the effort, while the others contribute and other times it will have to step back to let another lead.

On 13 July 2016, the IEC will be hosting the first World Smart City Forum. ISO and ITU have already been invited to join the steering committee. The Forum will be co-located with the World Cities Summit. An online community which aims to encourage discussions between city leaders will be launched in early January.

New IT tools

In the past year the IEC IT department has put in place new tools and services for IEC members and experts with the aim to increase efficiency and support the work of standards developers.

In this context the IEC is building a new standards development and business platform that will integrate services for all aspects of standardization work, from standards development to distribution and storage. The IEC Online Collections, a pilot project launched in April 2015, is part of this platform.

A new submission interface with an automated process for document handling between Technical Committees and IEC Central Office (CO) will be available soon.

IEC Public Commenting will allow experts to create an account and view and comment IEC Committee Drafts for Vote (CDV) drafts.

Update on conformity assessment work

The IEC Conformity Assessment Board (CAB) has enlarged its membership from 12 to 15. It is now working on the harmonization of the Basic Rules, the Conformity Assessment Risk Management Grid and the Conformity Assessment policy as well as cybersecurity.

IECEE, IECEx and IECQ are all financially sound and still developing at a brisk pace. They continue to gain visibility and recognition across the world and are including new services in their portfolios.

IECEE has put in place the Global Motor Energy Efficiency programme; IECEx, the Recognized Training Provider programme, which will allow Ex training organizations to assist candidates in their preparation for the IECEx Certified Persons Scheme assessment process; and IECQ has launched the new Scheme for LED Lighting.

IECRE, which was officially launched in 2014, now brings together 16 Members. It will play a major role in verifying and certifying renewable energy technologies and systems.

Opening a new Regional Centre

On 2 November IEC-AFRC, the Africa Regional Centre was opened in Nairobi, Kenya (read about it in this issue). With it the IEC now has five Regional Centres with an aim to be as close as possible to our stakeholder base.

All IEC Regional Centres are doing an excellent job of promoting and raising the awareness of the IEC. They participate in events and strongly support National Committees and Technical Committees in their local time zone.

Supporting developing countries

More and more Affiliate countries are adopting IEC International Standards as national ones. From July 2014 to June 2015, 776 Standards were adopted and three new countries set up their National Electrotechnical Committee. Since January 2015, the IEC Affiliate Country Programme has a new leader in Rosario Uría of Peru.

In an effort to allow Affiliates to benefit from the know-how of more experienced countries, 10 mentoring partnership agreements have been established.

Through the Affiliate Conformity Assessment Status (ACAS), developing countries are also benefiting from e-learning and training to better understand and participate in IEC conformity assessment activities.

Fresh blood

The IEC Young Professionals Programme is now in its 6th year of existence and 336 participants from 44 countries have already benefited from the Programme. Many of them have gone on to play important roles in their NCs and overall in the IEC. Participants also provide excellent feedback that helps improve IEC processes and structures.

Frans Vreeswijk, IEC General Secretary in Minsk IEC General Secretary and CEO Frans Vreeswijk during his address to Council
 Council in Minsk National Committee delegations to IEC Council
IEC-AFRC building The IEC Africa Regional Centre (IEC-AFRC) was inaugurated in early November in Nairobi, Kenya