Standards promote value, says NEMA

Posted on Monday October 10 2016, by Tim Whitaker

Industries allocate precious resources to creating standards for one reason: standards provide value.

The reasons for writing standards can vary – for example safety considerations, enabling interoperability, or providing standardized information – but value is the driving force, according to an article by Kevin Connelly of NEMA (the US-based Association of Electrical Equipment and Medical Imaging Manufacturers).

However, Connelly points out the contradiction that arises when weighing standardization against innovation. “Don’t standards promote homogeneity, and isn’t homogeneity the antithesis of competition?” he asks.

The answer lies in the way in which open, standardized platforms allow users to build on the underlying technology. Improvements and competition ensues, which stimulates the growth of the industry as a whole. In contrast, for proprietary technologies where outside access is restricted, there is limited scope for users to improve and add value to the system.

Among other examples, Connelly cites the development of the technology that eventually became WiFi. Initially, the industry struggled with competing, proprietary technologies that were incompatible with each other, until the IEEE 802.11b standard was published. “WiFi quickly became the ubiquitous and irreplaceable system that we know today,” says the article.

Kevin Connelly’s article is published in the October 2016 issue of electroindustry, NEMA’s monthly magazine.

Download the article

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Zhaga is a global lighting-industry consortium that creates standards for LED lighting components, including LED modules, drivers and light engines. These are aimed at simplifying the design, manufacturing and upgradeability of smart LED luminaires.

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