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July/August 2011

Maryann Gorman,  Standardization News' Editor in ChiefSeizing the Technological Moment

The public and private sectors’ strategic use of standardization to enable complex technologies is front and center in this issue of Standardization News.

As technologies advance, they provide more and more opportunities to improve the quality of life, conserve natural resources and preserve personal and national security. But with these opportunities come the challenges of integrating technological subsystems that are complex in their own right. In most cases, these smaller systems have already been standardized. The challenge today is to make them work together, for example, to merge the components of the flexible, intelligent and renewables-friendly grid of the future.

And so industry, government and standards developers are gathering their resources to seize the technological moment by ensuring that the beneficial technologies of the near future are not hampered by subsystems that cannot “speak” to one another.

One article details some of these challenges and the progress made to date on the development of electronic healthcare and credit card security systems, the smart grid, and components of photovoltaic power plants. And it describes how public and private sector researchers are working with standards developing organizations to ensure the interoperability of critical technologies.

The potential for an even better partnership between the public sector and standards developers is envisioned in the set of recommendations laid out by ASTM’s vice president of global policy and industry affairs, Jeffrey Grove, in his article. “Today’s operational environment,” Grove states, “requires federal agency engagement in standards development for technologies that are complex and multidisciplinary, and which address specific national priorities.” Toward this end, Grove makes the case for enhanced collaboration via early government involvement in private-sector standards development processes, strategic federal promotion of the unique U.S. standards development system, a stronger government commitment to the enforcement of SDOs’ intellectual property rights abroad and more.

As evidenced by the initiatives described in this issue, it is clear that the next phase of technological advancement is only going to be achieved with strong alliances among industry, government and the standards community. Standards developers such as ASTM International are actively engaged and ready for the next challenge.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief