Commerce Dept. to create ‘roadmap’ for standards
An initiative to “roadmap” the nation’s future measurement needs was announced in May by the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“The nation’s measurement system is a vital element of our innovation infrastructure,” NIST Acting Director Hratch Semerjian said during testimony before the House Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards. “The goal of this very important initiative, which will be undertaken in close cooperation with the private sector and other agencies, is to ensure that the nation’s highest-priority measurement needs are identified and met. We need to be certain that the U.S. measurement system is robust so that it can sustain America’s economy and citizens at world-class levels in the 21st century.”
Semerjian testified on the use of standards as barriers to export markets. Test and measurement methods are critical for businesses to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements and standards, which are the specifications that define the features, performance levels, compatibility and other attributes of products. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has estimated that standards influence up to 80% of world trade.
The comprehensive, NIST-facilitated initiative, Roadmapping America’s Measurement Needs for a Strong Innovation Infrastructure, will result in a first-ever evaluation of the breadth, depth and overall health of the U.S. measurement system. The final report, expected in early 2007, will identify priority measurement infrastructure needs across industry and the economy, recommend steps to address them and point out the consequences of inaction.
NIST and other organizations will convene industry- and technology-specific workshops to define emerging measurement needs crucial to future performance and capabilities. Currently, NIST staff members are actively developing plans for a dozen workshops that will engage industry, government and academia in documenting measurement needs. Examples of likely topics include manufacturing and reliability of nanotechnology systems, measurements for broadband communications, data storage technologies, proteomics and non-destructive evaluation methods for homeland security applications.
During the information-gathering phase of the measurement-system initiative, NIST also is encouraging businesses, trade associations, professional groups and other organizations to identify and advise NIST of pressing measurement infrastructure needs and gaps in their particular areas.