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ANSI Annual Conference Highlights Standardization and Innovation

New York, Oct 17, 2006

“Watching what’s happening in standards and innovation is exciting. There’s never been a more innovative time in history.”

So said Larry Irving, president of the Irving Information Group and former assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, during his keynote address at the American National Standards Institute’s 2006 Annual Conference, Standardization and Innovation, in Washington, DC, last week. Irving set the stage for the day’s discussions with a dynamic look at how new technologies are changing the face of the social and economic landscapes. Describing information technology as a transformative driver of the economy, Irving emphasized the importance of leveraging IT to bolster American competitiveness in the global marketplace. “The economy is moving at light-speed,” he said. “The pressure for all of us to raise our game has never been higher.”

The conference provided a unique opportunity for the standards community, business leaders and government representatives to explore the many and varied ways in which standards activities are accelerating new technologies, strengthening the U.S. economy, and driving innovative solutions to social and economic needs.

“Standards and innovation are closely intertwined,” explained S. Joe Bhatia, ANSI president and CEO, during his opening remarks at the conference. “Sometimes, standards are the springboard for innovation. ANSI members are delivering innovative technologies and new process improvements to the marketplace every day.”

The first of the day’s panels showcased the varied approaches different companies and industries are taking to develop standards that effectively promote innovation and move new ideas to market. Panelists underscored the importance of flexibility, harmonization, and public-private cooperation in achieving balance between consumer interests and government regulations.

Featured speaker Dr. Robert Kolodner, interim national coordinator for health information technology for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), opened the discussion on standardization in healthcare with a presentation on the federal administration’s health information strategy. Recently appointed to coordinate the creation of standards-based nationwide health information network (NHIN), Dr. Kolodner discussed the key players involved in driving the initiative forward. In particular, Dr. Kolodner highlighted the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), a group contracted by HHS, and administered by ANSI, as “a key part” of the nation’s health IT strategy.

Led by Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer of Harvard Medical School and chair of the HITSP, the second panel offered an in-depth look at several standards activities underway to revolutionize the nation’s healthcare system. Discussions and case studies illustrated how standards are being used to build a transparent, value-based system designed to empower consumers, improve patient safety, and deliver focused, high-quality care.

Opening the afternoon’s slate of presentations, Patrick J. Cleary, senior vice president of communications at the National Association of Manufacturers, gave voice to the foremost opportunities and challenges facing the U.S. manufacturing industry, which alone garners two-thirds of the nation’s exports and 12% of the gross domestic product. Cleary emphasized the need to reduce the cost of doing business in the U.S. and to bring about a level international playing field to leverage innovation and technology for maximum impact on the global economy.

The final panel of the day provided a glimpse into the many current and potential applications of nanotechnology and offered examples of how materials 80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair are transforming the future of all industry sectors. Panelists discussed areas of potential risk for the emerging field, the challenges of innovating in the face of developing regulations, and the need for collaborative dialogue in addressing these issues. Nomenclature; metrology; and health, safety and the environment were identified as the areas of standardization most critical to the responsible development and successful commercialization of nanotechnology applications.

Finally, Marshall C. Phelps, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for intellectual property of Microsoft, rounded out the day’s discussions with a look at how the "leap-frogging” of information and communication technology in developed and developing nations around the globe is spurring greater choice and competition. In particular, Phelps highlighted the strength of collaborative partnerships and flexible, timely, market-driven standards in creating new market sources that enhance innovation.

Conference proceedings and most presentations are available on the conference event page.

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