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Standards Council of Canada Hosts Second ISO Networking Conference

(Part one of two)

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, May 15, 2003

Nearly 125 participants from 34 countries gathered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada today for the Second International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Networking Conference.

The conference serves as a forum for the exchange of views among professional managers and experts of ISO members on questions of information, marketing, public relations and training. This year’s conference theme of Networking in a new information and communication environment draws attention to the “modern information and communication technologies that can and do significantly affect how people think and act.”

Mr. Hugh Krentz, chairman of the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) highlighted the benefits of both the new and old methods of interaction in his opening remarks when he said, “I look forward to meeting with you for old-fashioned, face-to-face contact and human fellowship.” SCC served as national body host for the conference.

In his welcoming comments, ISO Secretary-General, Mr. Alan Bryden, stressed the importance of ISO’s role in helping to “construct the global village.” He cited ISO’s pervasive reach, explaining that the organization now has 146 national member bodies, 188 technical committees and nearly 3,000 technical bodies comprising more than 35, 000 experts attending ISO meetings each year. He noted the vital role that the participants play in the exchange of information between standards users and standards developers, and called upon all participants to help “communicate [to the general public] the economics of what we do.”

“This is the audience that is listening to the users and bringing forward the new ideas about products and services to provide to our stakeholders,” Mr. Bryden said.

Ms. Andrea Spencer of the Standards Council of Canada explained how the Internet can be used as a tool to assist industry in overcoming non-tarriff barriers to trade. She demonstrated the “Export Alert!” service that was launched in Canada in 1999 and in the U.S. in 2001 as an early warning for exporters that draws attention to changes in trade-related technical regulations proposed by global trading partners.

Mr. Bradford Geddess of World Preferred, Canada, introduced a shared registry system that contains information on more than 83,000 certifications that have been issued and are now current. Though he noted that much of the information is related to North America, it is already being seen as one of the most comprehensive resources of valid certificates now available.

Mr. Neil Reeve, chairman of the International Federation of Standards Users (IFAN) spoke on behalf of the users of standards. “We desire a full-text searchable, online access database of all approved and planned standards,” he stated. He challenged standards developers to work together for the development of this “one-stop resource” for standards users.

As a follow-up to Mr. Reeve’s comments, Mr. Motonubu Kuroda of the Japanese Standards Association (JSA) provided a comprehensive overview of the JSA Standards Store and many of the user-driven functionality aspects that have been included in it.

Mr. Bob Feghali, ANSI vice-president of new business development and chief information officer, introduced the concept of the “Theory of Standards Evolution.” He called upon members of the ISO community to work together to identify, select and implement solutions that would drive down the cost of standards to the end user while also providing a mechanism for supporting the national standards bodies and the standardization infrastructure. Mr. Feghali suggested Digital Rights Management (DRM) as a possible solution.

Mr. Keith Moyes of the British Standards Institute conducted a question and answer session that explored the various constituencies that argue standards should be free, why they believe this is necessary, and what the standards community could do to respond to these desires – and what the resulting threats might be.

Mr. Howard Paul of Standards Australia International focused his attention on customer services and how new technologies can turn such services into profit. He noted the importance of “branding” for a web store and talked about giving away “comfort data” -- scopes, abstracts and reference documents – that helps the customer feel more comfortable by giving them the purchase information they need.

Magne Kalstad of the Norges Standardiseringsforbund suggested that “new technology has given a paradigm shift in communications….The new way is for customers to use technology to find what he or she needs himself. Core products, then, must be delivered more easily.”

Mr. Alan Maislisch of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) staff demonstrated several new IEC products that deliver what were once “traditional” standards in database formats. These examples included a database of more than 1800 graphical symbols culled from 13 separate publications and a vocabulary database containing more than 20,000 items from the IEC collection.

Mr. D. Sergue Papaev of the State Committee of the Russian Federation for Standardization and Metrology continued the discussion of new deliverables. He also identified that, in recognition of different national translations of terms, the ISO TC 37/SC 1 Working Group (WG 2) on “Vocabulary of Terminology” had recently changed its name and emphasis to the “Harmonization of Terminology.”

Mr. Enda McDonnell of that National Standards Authority of Ireland, speaking on behalf of national standards bodies in small countries, addressed the topic of standards distribution via web stores. While he noted that NSAI did not itself have the resources to develop the type of sophisticated e-commerce operation that some of the other countries in the room had developed, this did not mean that his customers were not also interested in online access. Ireland’s solution, then, was to partner with a commercial entity that could offer the web service on NSAI’s behalf. His organization had partnered with ILI for this service.

Ms. Claudia Michalski, representing Beuth Verlag GmbH, explained how her organization – which is largely a subsidiary of DIN, the Deutsches Institut fur Normung, has partnered with other organizations to offer commercial services. The partnership of large and small standards bodies for mutual benefit was a theme that was continually explored throughout the conference and replicates the “twinning” concept that has already been introduced in the administration of certain ISO technical committee secretariats.

Mr. Kamal Mirchandani of Open Text Corporation also stressed the importance of branding the national standards body (NSB) to the customers, suggesting that vendor/partner mechanics can easily be kept in the background. This was seen as important so that the NSB can more easily provide packages of services to key clients, access to multiple collections (such as national standards and those of the ISO), cross-selling of additional products and services (such as handbooks or educational materials), notification services and more.

Mr. Frans Gooskens of the Nederlands Normalisatie-instituut (NEN) explained his view that Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) provide growth opportunities for new services while protecting the rights of content owners. He cited the cross-linking of the world’s scientific journal literature as an example – more than 200 publishers are now members of this network and more than seven million articles have already been tagged with DOI.

Day one concluded with a reception and dinner hosted by the Standards Council of Canada.