The World Standards Day, held on October 14 each year, is celebrated in acknowledgement of the singular importance of standardisation to the world economy. Standards drive the modern world, and without standards serious trading in goods and services becomes impossible.
Adherence to standards primarily helps establish the quality and credibility of products and services, and by default enhances consumer protection and trade facilitation.
This role helps to meet the needs of business, industry, government, and consumers worldwide.
Since its formal launch in 1970, the World Standards Day has been fixed on the global calendar to create awareness on the significance of global standardisation, and to honour thousands of volunteers around the world who participate in standardisation activities together with the collaborative efforts of experts who produce the technical agreements published as international standards.
Its emergence has remarkably changed our world, “revolutionising entertainment, connecting friends and families across the globe, enriching our communication experiences and enabling major improvements in medical care and education”.
From a mere 25-country organisation in October 1946, the Swiss-based International Organisation for Standardisation – under the acronym ISO – now has 123 member nations, having grown into a global clearinghouse for all activities of standardisation and measurability.
Initially, October 3 was proposed as World Standards Day by the IOS (International Organisation for Standardisation) in order to honour the anniversary of the primary meeting of officials from 25 countries that resulted in creation of ISO.
The IEC (International Electro-technical Commission) joined the celebration with ISO in celebration of World Standards Day in 1988, and the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) joined in 1993. Since then, the Celebrations have studiously taken place on 14 October.
The transformational innovation of Video Technology
This year, the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC), the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), organisers of World Standards Day celebration have deemed it worthwhile to focus the celebrations on the centrality of video technology to development. Their theme for the celebration “Video standards create a global stage” amply reflects the transformational innovation of video technology as an all-encompassing and global phenomenon.
That this phenomenal transformation is taking place in this era of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ cannot be denied, as it has literally taken hold of our lives and become the de-facto medium of expression that is much-loved and treasured by the public.
Video has also become more accessible, helping people worldwide to share their stories in vivid and moving pictures with instantaneous and almost global response and feedback. These gains in both the sophistication and accessibility of video are built on International Standards. Without video standards, it would have been impossible to have Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and all the various social media platforms that are able to create and share videos seamlessly in all countries. Standards unite the world.
The video compression algorithms, standardised in collaboration by the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC), International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) and International Telecommunications Union (ITU), have been honoured with two Primetime Emmy Awards – recognising the centrality of standards to video technology and the industry’s ability in meeting rising demand for live video streaming, one of the most bandwidth-intensive applications running over global networks.
Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and use of video technology
The GSA recognises the increasing use and demand for video technology in our Ghanaian context, and is working to collaborate with the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), National Communications Authority (NCA), NAFTI, Gaming Commission, NCCE and other stakeholders to see how best video technology can be adapted for use in the country’s development efforts.
Increasingly and as part of GSA’s communication strategy, the Authority’s activities are recorded, edited and posted on new media platforms such as the corporate website, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram among others. This has proven to be very effective and engaging, allowing for interactions with its major publics and for feedback.
In line with this strategy, the GSA has produced an animated corporate video; a documentary on the state-of-the art Wood and Furniture Testing Centre at Fumesua in the Ashanti Region; and is also in the process of producing a detailed documentary capturing activities of the National Aflatoxin and Sensitisation Management (NASAM) Project, funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). All these video productions have been well-received, with positive feedback.
Why is World Standards Day celebrated?
Among the reasons for celebrating World Standards Day are that: International Standards assist the expansion of tailor-made resolutions which can be adapted to the particular situations, including town and country planning; International Standards possess best practices and expert knowledge; and Standards are also vital enablers in guaranteeing the quality and performance of goods and services. By celebrating World Standards Day, the member-countries signify that they are highly motivated toward making their cities smart-cities at the level of International Standards.
International Standards provide essential guidance for all characteristics of city life, such as the construction of sustainable communities, improvement of waste management, intelligent transportation, and energy-efficient buildings to mention but a few of the benefits.
By celebrating the World Standards Day, member-countries also confirm that they are participating in making the world a better place to live in.
As in previous years, the GSA – the national statutory body responsible for developing, publishing and promoting standards – once again joins the IEC, ISO and ITU to celebrate the occasion on October 14.
Across the globe, different activities are selected by national authorities to celebrate the Day.
In Ghana this year, the Ghana Standards Authority celebration will include an announcement of winners in the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) Essay Competition.
Looking back over the last decade of World Standards Day Celebrations, the organisers have displayed conscious efforts at dove-tailing succeeding events into the previous themes and thereby increasing awareness of the ISO’s activities. Previously, the themes have focused on: ‘International Standards and the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (2018); ‘Standards make cities smarter’ (2017); ‘Standards Build Trust’ (2016); ‘Standards, A common language’ (2015); ‘Standards level the playing field’ (2014); ‘Standards for a World at Work and Play’ (2013); ‘Less waste, better results – Standards increase efficiency’ (2012); and “International Standards – Creating confidence globally’ (2011).
The writer is Head of Public Relations at the Ghana Standards Authority