Transcript: The New Economy Series: Standards and Governance
[The animated white Canada School of Public Service logo appears on a purple background. Its pages turn, opening it like a book. A maple leaf appears in the middle of the book that also resembles a flag with curvy lines beneath. Text is beside it.]
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[It fades out, replaced by a Zoom call with four video windows. In the bottom left corner a woman, Martha Tropea, smiles. She is a white woman with blonde hair and black glasses. She wears a grey vest over a white blouse. Behind her, a colourful blocky painting of six people playing instruments hangs on the dark grey wall.]
Martha Tropea: Good afternoon. My name is Martha Tropea and I'm the Acting Director of the Public Sector Innovation Team at the Canada School of Public Service. [Translated from French] Welcome to the sixth event in the New Economy Series, a partnership between the Canada School of Public Service and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
I want to acknowledge all the hard work of CIGIs Managing Director and General Counsel, Aaron Shull, and that of his colleagues, for all they have done to help the school organize this session and the New Economy Series overall. We want to thank Aaron and CIGI for our continued partnership as we work together to deliver high-quality content to the public service.
[Translated from French] I just want to mention a few important housekeeping items before we get started. Simultaneous translation is offered in the language of your choice through the portal. Instructions were sent to you with your webcast link, along with copies of today's presentations. Participants are encouraged to submit their questions for the moderated Q&A period at the end of the event. Participants can also submit a question or vote on their favourite question using the webcast system by clicking on the hand in the corner of their screen.
With the housekeeping out of the way, I'd like to introduce you to today's panellists. Keith Jansa is the Executive Director of the CIO Strategy Council.
[Keith smiles. He is a white man with short dark hair and black glasses. He wears a black suit jacket over a blue button-down shirt. Keith sits in front of a grey wall.]
He works with Canada's most forward‑thinking public and private sector CEOs to collectively address the pace of digital transformation and advance Canada's position in the global digital economy. In his previous role as Vice President of Standards and Innovation, Keith provided executive leadership in the design and successful accreditation of the Council's standards‑setting process to drive the creation of national standards to advance Canada's digital economy.
Michel Girard is a Senior Fellow at CIGI, where he contributes expertise in the area of standards for Big Data and AI.
[Michel nods. He is a white man with short grey hair and a trim white beard. He wears black glasses with a black suit jacket over a white button-down and a striped tie. Michel sits in a room with an angled ceiling and one yellow wall against the white walls. A colourful painting hangs on the yellow wall.]
His research strives to drive dialogue on what standards are and why they matter in the emergent sectors of the economy and how to incorporate them into regulatory and procurement frameworks. Finally, Marta Janczarski is a Sector Specialist for AI and Big Data at the Standards Council of Canada.
[Marta smiles. She is a white woman with curly brown shoulder-length hair. She wears a black blouse and a long necklace with an oblong blue pendant. Martha sits in an office. Behind her, books are stacked on a shelf. Three framed diplomas hang on the wall.]
In this role, she provides strategic advice and support for Canadian innovators in becoming involved in the standardization as a way to engage markets competitively. She serves government entities with advice and updates them on standard landscapes, and she brings diverse Canadian stakeholders together to discuss and coordinate priority issues in the sector. In addition to being a panellist today, Marta will also be moderating the session and keeping an eye on time and asking questions. Over to you, Marta.
Marta Janczarski: Thank you, Martha. Thank you, CIGI and CSPS for hosting this event, this dialogue. I'm really excited to be in a discussion with Michel and Keith. To kick things off, the three of us have a short presentation to give some context and background to the organizations that we're coming from and our reviews on the standards landscape. With that, I would ask that the first presentation for Standards Council Canada be shared.
[Marta's video window is minimized to the bottom corner and a title slide fills the screen. It reads, "The New Economy Standards and Governance. Marta Janczarski, Sector Specialist in Artificial Intelligence & Health Tech."]
Perfect. As a moderator and a bit of a panellist here, my name is Marta Janczarski, the Sector Specialist for AI and Big Data at Standards Council of Canada. If I could just ask for the next slide, please. Thank you.
[Slide two has the SSC logo with text reading, "SSC is Canada's respected voice and advisor for standards and accreditation on the world stage." Marta's window fills one-third of the screen beside the presentation.]
Standards Council of Canada is the custodian of consensus-built standards in Canada, providing international participation for Canadians to ISO, IEC and JTC 1, ensuring robust domestic standards development and providing conformity assessment accreditation, bringing together stakeholders to support Canadian innovation.
Standards development provides three key things. They support efficient development of the new and emerging sectors, they foster trust amongst stakeholders and developers, and they advance safe and reliable systems and practices. There are opportunities for Canadians' voices to be able to participate and empower their expertise in standard development. Next slide, please.
[The slide is titled, "Standards and Conformity Assessment Can Help." Text below reads, "In the digital economy, data is critical. Safe, effective and accountable AI is fundamental to unlocking the value of that data. SCC is the right organization in supporting this process."]
Thank you. SCC has a really good relationship with AI and Big Data Canadian stakeholders from academic to research institutions as well as prominent industry leaders. We can provide a unique, wholesome view on the intersection of standards development, federal government programs, as well as technology development. We understand the needs that these stakeholders have. Our engagement with the superclusters has resulted in unique standardization strategies to support their work and innovative sector by providing them with the necessary support to embed their expertise into standards development initiatives.
Most recently, SCC has participated in the Riyadh International Standards Summit, which explored the role of standards in crisis management and accelerating the global digital transformation. Countries, including Canada, agreed on a call for action for international standardization bodies such as ISO, IEC, ITU and the G20 countries to work more closely together in recognizing, developing, and adopting international standards to fast forward global digital transformation, facilitate trade, ICT and innovation. Next slide, please.
[Text reads, "Billions of products are certified annually to national/regional/international standards." Two dozen logos are depicted to the left of the text, including APA, MET, ETL, ULC, SEI, and NSF.]
To dive a little more into what we do: One of the things that SCC performs is it accredits third-party certification bodies, taking direction from ISO and IEC guidelines to ensure that they operate in a consistent and reliable manner. Furthermore, SCC ensures that accredited certification bodies meet regulatory needs. There are many such bodies in Canada, and I'm sure you might recognize some of these logos on the slide. As such, quality and safety are ensured in countless products, programs and services as we certify to standards. Next slide, please.
[The slide's title is "Accredited Standards Development Organizations." Twelve logos are featured in the slide, including HRSO, IAPMO, ULC, and BNO.]
Secondly, the SCC also accredits standards development organizations, allowing them to develop national standards. Organizations that demonstrate a thorough standards development process based on consensus building from diverse stakeholders and implement a maintenance cycle for published standards, amongst other criteria, can be accredited. We presently have 12 accredited standard development organizations and they vary in scope and sector such as plumbing and building standards to health care delivery and emerging technologies, and IT as well as government support through the STO of CGSB. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads, "Standards in Regulations: 5000+ referenced in Canadian regulation, 18% growth in international references, 59.2% adoptions of international standards in electronics & ICT ICS sector."]
Standards, while voluntary, have a deep relationship with regulations. They're a fantastic tool to help guide stakeholders in compliance to regulations as well as pursue international harmonization and mutual agreement through direct embedding of standards. Over 5000 standards are currently referenced in Canadian regulation and that number continues to grow. International standards are the largest group type of standards being referenced, with an increase in 18 percent over the last six years. Furthermore, particularly in the ICT and emerging sectors, international standards are the most often referenced in Canada at 59.2 percent. Next slide, please.
[The slide is titled "National Standards Approved." Text reads, "SCC approved 435 national standards of Canada (NSCs) in FY 2019-20, of which 65.3% were adoptions of international standards." A chart depicts the growth in number of national standards approved by SCC in both national adoptions of international standards and other national standards. The scale steadily increases, with a few minor dips. In FY12/13 there were 98 national adoptions of international standards and 45 other national standards. In FY15/16 there were 114 national adoptions of international standards and 68 other national standards. In FY17/18 there were 213 and 72, and in FY19/20 there were 284 and 151.]
National Standards development has also been quite busy, with 435 national standards published so far this fiscal year. We have noticed that while domestic standard development has been gradually growing, as you can see here on the chart, the majority of standards developed are an adoption of international standards. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads, "Current Canadian approach to International Standardization. Canadian interest is growing and becoming more active in international standardization, as evidenced by Canadian innovators being supported through: SCC Innovation Program, SCC Intellectual Program, Superclusters' use of standardization strategies. Over 350 new standardization participants have joined the standardization system."]
Thank you. The SCC is supporting and ensuring that Canadians can participate in international standards development as it is clear that the impact of these standards is far reaching, not only domestically but around the world. We have two programs in particular: the Innovation program and the IP program that work individually with Canadian stakeholders to ensure that the Canadian voice and innovation are captured by standardization initiatives. Since 2018, we've had over 350 new standardization participants that have joined the standardization system from government, industry and academia.
[The next slides reads, "Canada's Innovation & Skills Plan highlights the value of standards-setting in advancing Canada's economic interests and growing globally successful companies. By working directly with Canadian innovators, SCC is providing tailored, end-to-end support to companies in developing effective standardization strategies to accelerate commercialization and remove barriers to the adoption of new Canadian technologies."]
Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan highlights the value of standards setting in advancing Canada's economic interests and growing globally successful companies. By working directly with Canadian innovators, SCC is providing tailored end‑to‑end support to companies in developing effective standardization strategies to accelerate commercialization and remove barriers to the adoption of new Canadian technologies. SCC has a working relationship with several federal and provincial partners working to support the federal government's vision for Canada. I'd like to showcase a few examples from different areas where SCC has been able to provide support. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads, "World Council on City Data (WCCD). A suite of standards that defines and establishes indicators to measure the performance of city services and quality of life."]
Thank you. The World Council on City Data is a Canadian organization that is looking to standardize the way city data is handled at a municipal level and also how cities are able to interact with each other. Through SCC support in the Innovation program, a suite of standards that defines and establishes indicators to measure the performance of city services and quality of life are being developed. This is an example wherein, through the support of one stakeholder, the diverse representation of vested stakeholders in the area of city data are involved. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads, "ISARA: Making data 'quantumsafe' today and in the future. Leading the development of international quantum-safe cryptography standards."]
One of the areas of interest and innovation, of course, in Canada is quantum computing and its application to today's technology. Through the Innovation program at SCC, we have been able to support and guide a Canadian innovator, ISARA, in the sector to lead the development of international "quantumsafe" cryptography standards. As Canadian stakeholders, both government and industry are looking at the level of privacy and protection their data needs and how this will look with the adoption of quantum applications. It is important for Canadians to be active in contributing to how the landscape will be shaped. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads, "Canadian Data Governance Standardization Collaborative (DGSC)." Three bullet points read, "Identify standardization priorities; Deliver standardization roadmap; Recommend proposals for standardization initiatives."]
One of the main initiatives that we have been working on in the past year is the Canadian Data Governance Standardization Collaborative, which was launched in May 2019 as a cross‑sector coordinating body with the objective to accelerate the development of industry‑wide data governance standardization strategies. It's led by co‑chairs Anil Arora, Canada's Chief Statistician, and Philip Dawson, the Public Policy Lead at Element AI. The collaborative is not tasked with developing standards. Its role is to articulate needs, propose coordinated standardization activity, minimize duplication of effort and enable stakeholders to focus their resources in this effort. The one overarching task is to accelerate the development of industry‑wide data governance standardization strategies that are consistent with stakeholder needs and facilitate the growth of data governance capabilities in line with national and global priorities.
As a consensus builder and facilitator of the standardization system, the SCC has, through this collaborative, four principal tasks: identify Canadian priority areas for data governance that might benefit from standardization, including areas of particular interest to individual Canadians, conduct an environmental scan gap analysis and catalogue stakeholder needs, deliver a comprehensive and consensus‑based roadmap describing the current and desired Canadian standardization landscape, including recommendations to address gaps and new areas where standards and conformity assessment are needed, and finally, propose national and international standardization initiatives and recommend the appropriate timelines and organizations that can perform the work. This collaborative has seen very active participation from government and regulator stakeholders providing a collaborative area to learn about Canadian needs as well as opportunities for standards adoption. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads, "Canadian Leadership Internationally: Canada has developed early success in leading the conversation in key emerging sectors, such as Data, Quantum and Artificial Intelligence."]
We have had a lot of Canadian leadership in international standards development, particularly in the international committees for IT, JTC 1 and artificial intelligence, as well as in data committees. In the committee for AI, a Canadian is leading the work under working group 1 for foundational standards in the position of convenor. This includes oversight of work around the standards for terminology, concepts, area life cycle and the AI management system standard, areas of identified interest to regulators. In addition, there have been two standards proposed by the Canadian Mirror Committee that have been voted on positively by the International Committee and are currently under development.
The first is a technical specification assessment for classification performance for machine learning models. This proposal was developed by a researcher from Vector Institute. The second is the Conformity Assessment Standard Artificial Intelligence Management System Standard, which was developed in consensus with the Canadian Mirror Committee and has received unanimous consent from the international community. In the area of data, Canadians are hard at work at the new standards being developed in the Committee for Data Integration and Management, SC32, looking at the data usage broadly as well as the e‑commerce applications. Next slide, please.
[The slide is titled "Artificial Intelligence Management System (AIMS)." Below it is the word "Scope," followed by two bullet points: "Provides requirements and guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an artificial intelligence management system within the context of an organization" and "Applicable to any organization, regardless of size, type and nature, which provide or use products and services using artificial intelligence."]
I wanted to take a minute to have a closer dive at the Artificial Intelligence Management System Standard. It is a critical step in the maturation of the artificial intelligence sector. This standard provides the requirements and guidance for establishing, implementing, maintaining and continually improving an artificial intelligence management system within the context of an organization. It is applicable to any organization, regardless of size, type and nature, which provides or uses products and services using artificial intelligence. Its ISO number will be ISO 42001. This standard will have a similar impact as the management system standard developed for cybersecurity, ISO 27001, which the CyberSecure Can program is based on. These management system standards are the sector-specific adoptions of ISO 9001.
Conformity assessment schemes that are based on standards with explicit criteria developed in a consensus-based collaborative manner serve as a vehicle to ensure values such as human rights, accountability and transparency are maintained. Not only did Canada propose the standard, but Canadians have been elected into leadership positions for its development. We highly encourage anyone who's interested in working on the development of a standard and detailing the controls it should include, to reach out to us to join the Canadian Mirror Committee. Next slide, please.
[The slide is titled "AI Conformity Assessment Program Prototype (AICAPP)." Four bullet points follow: "Funded by TBS's Centre for Regulatory Innovation; Align conformity assessment and standards development for AI; Develop a prototype conformity assessment program ready for sandbox testing; Create a partnership groundwork for the full-scale program." Below the text, an arrow points between three boxes. They read, "Phase 1: prototype development. Phase 2: sandbox testing. Phase 3: full-scale conformity assessment program."]
Finally, I'd like to also recommend one of the other pilot projects that we have on the go. In partnership with ISED, SCC is coordinating a conformity assessment pilot for AI. This will create the partnership groundwork for a full-scale program. The first of three phases was launched a month ago. The first phase delivers a prototype conformity assessment program for sandbox testing. AI, small‑medium enterprise developers, along with regulators and conformity assessment bodies will participate in the prototype development. This will create the partnership groundwork for the final program to be delivered in stage 3.
Stakeholders are being identified from three main groups: regulators, conformity assessment bodies and innovators SME developers. Should any member be interested in learning more about this pilot, please feel free also to reach out to us. With that, to my last slide.
["Reach out to SCC." Bullet points follow: "On standards in regulations and opportunities for standards adoption into policy; On how to participate in standards; On how to promote innovation through standardization in your program and program proposals."]
As your trusted federal partner, please feel free to reach out to us. My colleagues and I cover a suite of sectors and we would be happy to engage with you, whether it's to learn more about the current standards landscape in a particular area or topic or to explore opportunities to participate in standards development or on how to promote innovation through standardization in your programs and program proposals. Please feel free to reach out. We are happy for a discussion and with that I will conclude my presentation and we will move on to the next speaker.
[A final slide reads, "Thank you. For further information: firstname.lastname@example.org." This fades into a new title slide reading, "The New Economy Series: Standards and Governance. Michel Girard, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation." Michel's video window appears.]
Michel Girard: Thank you, Marta, for outlining the role and activities that Standards Council undertakes on behalf of Canada. That's very interesting to see the progress that Standards Council is making in the new areas. If we want to go to the next slide. Thank you.
[The slide appears alongside Michel's video window. It reads, "Overview" followed by bullet points: "What are standards?; How are they developed?; Standards and regulations; Standards and trade; Standards and innovation."]
I want to step back over the next 10 to 12 minutes to go back to some of the basics that you may appreciate learning about so that we start from the same page when we go to questions. I want to cover four areas this afternoon. The first one is redefining what standards are. I think it's important for us to get to the basics on that. I want to talk to you about standards in regulations. We know that regulators use standards and safety codes across government departments and agencies and I want to talk about that a little bit. I want to talk about standards and trade, which Marta alluded to and Keith will talk about as well. There's such a strong correlation between our success nationally in setting standards and the success of our trade portfolio. I want to talk to you about that. The fourth item for me will be the standards in innovation, which is critical if we want to make sure that our Canadian values are reflected in a bunch of normative documents that will have an impact on our lives and our democracy. Let's go to the next slide and go back to the basics here.
["What are Standards?" A series of bullet points follow: "Standards keep the economy running; Cover almost every manufactured product; Provide a level playing field between players in supply chains; Serve as a 'handshake' between system components; Allow for interoperability; Play a pivotal role in protecting consumer health and safety; Thousands are incorporated in regulations and procurement documents; Use of international standards reduce non-tariff barriers to trade."]
What are standards? Standards keep the economy running. They cover almost anything you touch and use in your house from electrical outlets to plumbing or elevators, pressure vessels, propane, you name it. If there is a product that you use on an ongoing basis, chances are that it's been standardized. If you use products in a supply chain or if you use complex products, it's going to serve as a handshake between components of a product so that supply chains actually work properly. You have lots of standards being used that you don't even know exist. If they weren't there, you'd have a lot of trouble going through your day. Standards allow for interoperability. Whether you use your cell phone in China or Indonesia, it's going to work. Without standards, we were kind of stuck. We had to change sim cards.
When standards are behind you or behind technology, it creates problems for people. It's important to keep the standards agenda in line with the technology deployment agenda so that we actually can enjoy new technologies around the world quicker. Standards play a very important role in health and safety. That's probably the main reason why they were designed in Canada in the 1940s and 50s. As the economy was growing and as oil and gas and electrical products were being introduced, there were health and safety issues associated with those products. We needed a whole bunch of standards and codes to ensure not only interoperability, but to ensure that these products were safe as they were being developed and deployed.
On that front, we had a number of national associations, engineers, oil and gas specialists, and others in the health care sector. It was the same. National associations decided where we needed to have a view on standards. We need to figure out what's important versus what's not important. National associations in Canada play a very important role in designing the standards agenda in a tangible economy. We're seeing the same thing happening with the intangible products and the new things that we use on a daily basis with websites and applications and AI, and whatnot. It's important to keep in mind that as our economy moves from a world of mainly tangible products to a world where there's a balance between tangible and intangible products, standards are just as important. The main reason why we need standards in the world of intangibles is that once the standard is developed, it really brings the cost down of the unit. You go from a situation where you have very large integrated firms having control over the entire chain to a world where a whole bunch of organizations can compete. With interoperability standards out there, you can get your SMEs to compete globally. They know what to do and they know how to integrate their parts or components into global supply chains. It applies for intangibles as well. Next slide, please.
[The slide is titled, "How are standards developed?" A series of boxes have arrows pointing from one to the next in a long chain. They read, "Evaluation and approval à public notice à committee develops content à public review à committee reaches consensus à quality review à committee approves content à procedural approval à publication and dissemination à maintenance of standard." Beside this is more text, reading, "Multi-stakeholder/country participation: regulators, industry, civil society, consultants, academics, etc. Consensus-based decision-making: deliberate, rules-based process; "substantial agreement…implies much more than a simple majority, but not necessarily unanimity; double-level (stakeholders, countries) at ISO. Transparent and inclusive: public, member body review of drafts. Current: standards have to be reaffirmed, revised or withdrawn every 5 years."]
There is a process to develop standards. It needs all voices at the table. It is a process that is deliberative. It is consensus based. It can be time consuming for some, but it's important to have it done properly so that you have agreement. Once you have a draft standard, you have agreement amongst all stakeholder groups who participate in the dialogue so that the document, once published, is seen as something that is credible and is seen as something that can be used by all parties. It's important to have a credible process to develop standards. Once a standard is developed, you need to update it every five years or sometimes in case of safety codes, every three years so that it reflects new technologies being introduced. Let's go to the next slide.
[The slide is filled with red text reading, "Standards in Regulations."]
Standards and regulations, very briefly. Let's go to the next one.
[The slide is titled "Standards in Regulatory or Legislative Frameworks." Text reads, "Technical standards and codes have been referenced in federal, provincial and territorial regulations. Examples include regulations covering: Occupational health and safety; Construction and infrastructure energy efficiency requirements; Environmental protection; Consumer products; Electrical, oil and gas, elevators, pressure vessels, medical devices and organic foods. Compliance to a technical standard referenced in a regulation means compliance with the intent of the legislature. Canadian regulations will often also require third-party certification of a product or a device as an accredited certification body as a demonstration of compliance."]
Regulators, whether at the federal level or at the provincial level, routinely use standards and safety codes incorporating them into their regulations. Marta mentioned more than 5000 references to standards. If you add the electrical code and the building code and all of the other codes that are necessary to keep our country running and safe, you're probably talking about tens of thousands of different standards being incorporated. There are probably 1400 different standards used at the federal level. My policy advice to you, as regulators, is to make sure that you're aware of new standards that are being developed. If you have a new technology that you consider regulating and you don't see a standard, there is a problem here. You probably need to reach out to SCC so that you can figure out what the best way is to create a normative document that industry can use to comply with the intent of your regulation and then focus on third-party certification of the product that is being designed so that you have a demonstration of health and safety.
Last advice for regulators: we've seen it before, we want to see the most up‑to‑date version of a standard in your regulation. We want ambulatory references in regulations so that standards stay up to date and then we can align standards between regulatory agencies across the country or around the world. The principle here is simple to understand. It is one standard, one test. Once there's a standard out there, we'd like to have it apply across the world and we'd like to have the tests and the certification recognized around the world so that we keep our competitiveness up as opposed to creating unnecessary barriers for industry. Let's go to the next slide, please.
[The slide is titled, "Standards are a Necessary Complement to Regulations." Text reads, "Innovation is outpacing legal and regulatory frameworks and the ability of regulators to respond to new issues associated with the deployment of disruptive technologies."]
Necessary complimentary regulation. I've talked to you about this. When I was at Standards Council, we saw so many new technologies being deployed that would need to be regulated and then saw standards developing bodies respond to this, whether it's hover boards or cannabis or hydrogen. It's everywhere. I think that there are no preconditions for regulators to get engaged and involved in standardization. It does not require a huge expertise about the standard system to get involved. It is a user‑friendly process. There are no barriers for regulators to ask questions and get engaged. I would encourage regulators to really think about standards as a tool in your toolbox going forward, whether it's an existing technology or a new one that's going to be deployed. Next slide, please.
[The slide reads "Standards and Trade" in red letters.]
Standards and straight trade. Let's go to the next slide.
["Around the world there are more than 335,000 international standards. 1,000,000+ domestic standards."]
I want to share with you a few points about standards and trade. This dates back a couple of years, there were more than one million different domestic standards out there and a growing number of international standards. Every year we're seeing thousands of new standards being published. There are a lot of standards being developed. The question for Canada is to decide when can we afford to be a standards taker, that is not invest any resources and adopt an international standard as is once it's deployed or developed versus when do we have to become standard setters and make a difference and ensure that our viewpoint or our expertise or our commercial interests are being reflected. Let's go to the next slide, please.
["Standards are not neutral. They reflect the views of those who invest time and expertise in the development process."]
I have two messages for you as you finalize this session today. The first one is that standards are not neutral and this is not the United Nations. You have very different bodies developing standards and they only reflect the views of those who will invest the time and the resources at the table to develop the standard. If you're not there, it will not reflect your priorities or your technologies, or your IP for that matter. Standards are not neutral. If it makes a difference in your business or in your regulatory area, then you have to participate. Otherwise, nobody's going to have a voice on your behalf. Let's go to the next slide.
["Once a standard is set, the die is cast. Specifications and guidance address key issues." Five text boxes are on top of an icon of a document: Intellectual property, interoperability, compatibility, minimum quality, and safety requirements.]
The second key message I'd like you to get out of the presentation today is once the standard is set, chances are that the die is cast. It's very rare that we see standards being completely upended from the first edition to the second edition. All of the key issues, whether it's the intellectual property embedded in the document, some of the interoperability component decided, the minimum quality requirements or the safety requirements. Once this is done during the first edition, the die is cast. There is an interest on the part of those on commerce or regulators to think through those two issues. If the standard is not neutral and once it's done it doesn't reflect your needs, then you're stuck with it. We've seen instances where Canada has won big by being a standard setter and other instances where Canada had to adjust and sometimes having dire consequences on the economy because we could not live with the decisions that were made at the standards committee table. Next slide, please.
["In 2010, China began to implement its strategy for securing key positions on international technical committees and working groups, significantly impacting Canada's interests."]
I want to talk to you very briefly about what we're competing against. China was nowhere to be seen internationally before 2010. They began in 2010 to really take up a lot of space internationally because they believed that standards are important for trade and important to assert their economic power. Let's go to the next slide.
["China now manages 64 ISO technical committees. Many are of strategic economic interest to Canada: earth minerals, aluminum ores, pipeline transportation systems, hydro turbines. More to come on the intangibles front with China Standards 2035."]
We've seen them go from a very small participation to extremely important participation internationally. This is an example from ISO, the International Organization for Standardization. China now is nipping at the heels of France, the UK and the United States in terms of chairing technical committees. They're displacing Canadians left, right and centre in terms of chairmanship. We have to fight back and we are. Let's not forget that those who hold the pen control the development of the normative documents. We're seeing China really becoming active on that front. Can we go to the next slide?
["International standardization is an important strategic issue if Canada is to help its entrepreneurs succeed on the global stage."]
Just to conclude on that, you're going to be seeing in the coming weeks a new document from China. It's going to be called China Standards 2035. It's going to be their master plan to systematically occupy the territory internationally when it comes to standardization in existing and new areas, including AI and Big Data, 5G and whatnot. In China, there is a belief that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technologies, and first-tier, or first-class, companies make standards. That's understood in China and is being applied across the board. With this new strategy that they're coming up with, we're going to be facing a formidable adversary on the standards front. We need to figure out how we are going to protect our interests from a regulatory perspective and also from a trade perspective. Let's go to the next slide.
["Standards and Trade: Goods exporting firms are responsible for a disproportionate share of GDP. 43,800 enterprises in Canada export their products abroad. Value of exports in 2019: $446.5B CAD."]
I want to talk about standards and trade very briefly. This is from, again, a couple of years ago. We have less than 44 000 exporters of products in Canada. Let's go to the next slide.
["The majority of exporters trade with only 1 partner country (the U.S.) (69.1%)."]
We rely on them for our GDP. What we're seeing is that the vast majority of these companies only export to one country and that's the US. As a result, we're seeing tens of thousands of Canadians participating in US standards bodies. It seems to be the way to go if you are in a new business in a tangible world, but in the intangible world with new technologies, we have to think broader than the US. Let's go to the next slide.
["The more diverse the export portfolio of an enterprise, the more likely it is that the enterprise will face potentially diverging regulatory requirements, ergo the need for standards. The greatest share of export value (41.1%) comes from only 805 enterprises. They are trading with more than 20 partner countries."]
When it comes to the value of exports, the stats show us that there is a direct correlation between whether you export to one country or more and what you bring back to Canada. What we're seeing is that, again, there's only 800 companies in the country exporting to 20 countries or more. They bring home the bacon when it comes to the share of export value. If I have advice for folks at the federal level, it's think about standards as a vehicle to help Canadian innovative companies access global markets. This is what we want. We want more of that. We want more companies that become standard setters and focus on all continents as opposed to only the US as they design their strategies. Very quickly, standards and innovation. Next slide, please.
["Standards and Innovation. There are 200+ standards/specs bodies in the ICT sector. Only one is based in Canada." Twenty logos follow the text, including those of ISO, ITU, GitHub, CEA, and IEEE.]
If you are a federal regulator, you will find so many different bodies now that are developing standards for the new economy. It is mind boggling to see. It doesn't mean that because it's complex that we shouldn't play. We need to figure out what the landscape is out there in emerging technologies and who is developing the standards. It may be under the surface, just under the radar, but they're still making the right decisions that will help Canadian companies access the markets or will set them aside. Please remember that standards are as important in the intangible economy as they were for the tangible economy. Last slide.
["Moving Towards a Canadian View. Enabling national conversations on what standards are needed to support the digital society and the digital economy: standards collaboratives; sectoral data strategies; professionalization of data value chains (data engineers/controllers/scientists); certification programmes supporting Canada's digital charter; IoT and 5G: do we need a safety code? Building institutional capacity for strategic standards setting nationally, regionally, and internationally."]
My advice to you is whether or not you were exposed to standards before, I think you need to give it a try and think about helping your stakeholders, helping industry and helping provinces move to a Canadian view. We need strong Canadian delegations, whether they participate nationally, in the US or internationally. We need a strong Canadian view. We understand our interests and we know in what instances we need to, and we must become, standard setters in order to make a difference. Thinking about new technologies, I will just give you an example here. We know five years from now we'll have 5G in this country. We don't know who is going to be operating that 5G, but we know there are issues associated with it. Why not think outside the box a little bit and come up with a 5G safety code so that health and safety, interoperability and cybersecurity are addressed in one handbook, in one document that would allow all players, big and small, to participate in the development and the deployment of that foundational technology for the future. The sky is the limit. All we have to do is think through what the landscape is out there in terms of standardization and decide when we have to play big. Let's just move it and get going because we have a good reputation internationally. With that, I will leave the table to Keith to present his case study when it comes to the ICT world. Thank you.
[A final slide reads, "Thank you." Keith's video window appears.]
Keith Jansa: Thank you, Michel. Hello, everyone. Thank you CIGI and the Canada School of Public Service for inviting me today.
[A title slide reads, "Standards" on top of a field of interconnecting dots.]
I'll share another perspective with you and a few of the other facets on standards that as a public service, you may find beneficial to be mindful of. If we can go to the next slide.
[The slide's title disappears.]
It looks like we're having some difficulty with the slides. If we can go to the next slide just to see if it's a reoccurring issue.
[The words "Standards are in everything" appear on the background.]
All right. Perhaps it might be beneficial for me to control the slides, unfortunately. I don't know if that's possible. [There is a long pause. The presentation disappears.] All right. Apologies for the delay. I will go about sharing…
Marta: In the interim, I'd like to remind viewers that they can submit questions on the top right of the viewing window and we'll be able to get into them after this presentation.
Keith: I appreciate that, Marta. All right. I was just moving over...
[A title slide fills the screen. On the interconnecting background, a black text box reads, "Disruptive Technology and the Need for National Standards. Keith Jansa, Executive Director, CIO Strategy Council."]
All right. Getting oriented again. Apologies. All right. My focus here today will be providing another perspective to share with you, and a couple of other facets to consider. Consider this: new and emerging technologies are opening doors for exciting opportunities, but they also introduce a myriad of risks to preserving a public trust in the wake of growing privacy concerns over the potential for the misuse of personal data. Consider that data collection and use has percolated at alarming speeds with the launch of online platforms, smart devices, and everything Internet of Things. The need to ensure the responsible use of data and AI, quite frankly, has never been greater.
AI is commonly identified as one of three game-changing technologies in the horizon blockchain and Internet of Things being the other, some of which I'm sure those with us today are currently contemplating and addressing. Its potential impacts on the labour market are a key interest to public, private and not‑for‑profit sectors. Furthermore, given the rapid escalation in cyber mischief and malicious practices from both public and private players globally, it is important to put some stakes in the ground to guide the well‑intentioned and to potentially sanction those with other motives.
If we consider artificial intelligence technologies, just as an example, there are significant governance questions around AI that must be thoughtfully addressed up front to ensure that the technology developed is used within a socially acceptable frame. Experience suggests, however, that early leadership can quickly be eroded without interventions aimed at strengthening early markets and facilitating commercialization. To maintain effective leadership and fully leverage the benefits of this technology over time, it is essential to set standards that can drive behaviours and markets within which technological expertise can then thrive.
Standards, as we've heard both from Marta and Michel, are an effective mechanism for demonstrating compliance with processes a community agrees are important. Broad adoption of standards reduces the uncertainty and therefore can encourage entrepreneurship and investment. Consider this: as part of President Trump's Executive Order on maintaining American leadership in artificial intelligence in February 2019, the United States is driving the development of technical standards for the safe testing and deployment of AI technologies across industry. The government's executive department and agencies are pursuing six strategic objectives in furtherance of both promoting and protecting American advancements in AI. One of which being to ensure that technical standards minimize vulnerability to attacks from malicious actors and reflect federal priorities for innovation, public trust and public confidence in systems that use AI technologies, and to further develop international standards to promote and protect those priorities. The question is: what's behind the motivations of a president, the head of state, the head of a government to bolster standards? That's where I'd like to dive in.
[Text reads, "Standards are in everything."]
As we've heard, standards are in everything. They're more than guiding principles. From the smallest screw thread to the most complex utility network, standards prevent harm, ensure reliability and generally improve our way of life. They are essential to spearheading technology advancement, innovation and trade. At their core, standards allow us to establish accepted practices, technical requirements, and modernize, at times, complex policies. Without standards, we would have no benchmarks for success, no product safety security, no common technology unifying global markets and certainly no opportunity for competition to thrive.
Take cellular communication, for example: from 3G to 4G and now into 5G technology, standards have ensured expanded connectivity, improved security and enhanced energy savings. Because mobile standards are in place, we are all able to connect seamlessly to our families when we're abroad or when we are at home. That's no accident. They're a failsafe that allows Canadian companies to compete at home and abroad. They are vital to both business growth and security, especially in our ever‑changing, fast‑paced, global digital economy that's showing no signs of slowing.
[The next slide reads, "Each standard has an intended purpose," followed by a slide reading "There are many types of standards."]
Each standard has an intended purpose from facilitating business interactions and providing interoperability to demonstrating due diligence or regulatory compliance, from performance-based product specifications to management system standards, and helping organizations improve quality, security and reliability. Standards can be developed as early as an idea. They can begin to codify common nomenclature and definitions in nascent areas and conserve to govern interactions across complex digital ecosystems.
[A black background of a circuit reads, "But…" followed by a slide reading, "Not all standards are equal."]
But with all good things, of course, there are potentially adverse impacts. To what Michel articulated as well, not all standards are equal. Specifically where I'd like to hone in is considering their development process.
["Standards are developed from many different actors."]
Standards are developed for many different actors. They can be developed by industry associations, professional societies, standards development organizations, consortia, companies and governments.
["How a standard is developed can influence its acceptance and use in the market."]
Effectively, while there are standards in use across all sectors of the Canadian economy, not all standards are developed using a formal, consistent and reliable standards development process. It is important to understand that one development process may be very different from the next and how standards are developed influences whose interests they will serve. We've certainly heard from Marta and Michel on what I would term more as formal standards. The informal nature of standards development, as well, has implications on global marketplace rules. For instance, most companies develop their own internal standards, sometimes called policies, to describe their purchasing requirements, material characteristics and/or production practices.
A prime example of a company standard are those developed by General Motors. These standards are often tested by a certification body accredited by Standards Council of Canada. The development of company standards from one company to the next may be significantly different and the process most usually is not publicly available. The same is sometimes true of industry standards, often developed by industry associations. Typically, these industry association memberships comprise group of companies serving a specific industry. Some industry associations are accredited by a national standards body, like the Standards Council of Canada, and have a higher level of scrutiny applied to the standards development process. Further, national standards can be developed in Canada through standards development organizations accredited by Standards Council of Canada, to which Marta shared with you here today. Further, many standards, again to what Marta described, are developed in international forums like ISO and IEC through their technical committees and subcommittees.
["How you use standards can influence marketplace behaviours."]
How you use standards can ultimately influence marketplace behaviours. As policymakers, regulators, and trade specialists in our audience today, you have a number of policy and regulatory levers that can influence marketplace behaviours, each having the possibility of intersecting with standards.
["Your policy and regulatory levers." By the CIO Strategy Council logo, a list reads, "Regulation, insurance, public recognition, tax breaks, subsidies, grants, procurement, research…"]
In addition to incorporating national standards by reference and regulation, to what Michel had described, departments and agencies may also use standards in different ways to meet policy and regulatory objectives. As examples, departments and agencies can work with the Canadian insurance industry to build underwriting practices that promote the adoption of responsible risk‑reducing measures and risk‑based pricing while fostering a competitive, responsible insurance market by having premiums reduced for organizations complying with specific standards. Departments and agencies can provide public recognition through the development of voluntary or mandatory certification programs or seals of approval to which organizations would be assessed by an independent third party against the national standard.
A good example within the public service is within Innovation, Science and Economic Development with the CyberSecure Canada program that does this. Governments can provide tax breaks or subsidies for investments made to comply with standards. Departments and agencies can also use weighted criteria for federal grant applications, i.e. those that implement a standard having higher scoring to those that do not. Similarly, departments and agencies can put companies voluntarily complying with a specific standard on a priority list to deliver services to government and could even make that priority list publicly available to differentiate companies in the marketplace for the private sector to consider these companies for delivering products and solutions to them.
A good example within the Treasury Board Secretariat is having pre‑identified AI companies that can serve the government on more or less a prioritized list for government departments to leverage. Having spoken to many of those companies that in fact are on that list, they've received tremendous interest from other companies and countries from around the world as a result of Canada profiling them in such a way, even though the service hasn't actually been a given yet to the government. On that priority list, departments and agencies can identify areas where commercial products and services are available to help companies implement standards and where the gaps exist. Departments and agencies can then communicate those gaps in research and development opportunities. There's a tremendous number of levers that can be pulled where there's an intersection to standards that the public service and folks like you that are listening here today can pull on to effectively move and influence marketplace behaviours.
[The CIO Strategy Council logo fills half a slide. Beside it, text reads, "About us: Brings the country's most forward-thinking public and private sector CIOs and executive tech leaders together."]
Turning more to the CIO Strategy Council now and a little bit about us. We are Canada's National Forum that brings together the country's most forward‑thinking Chief Information Officers and Executive Tech Leaders to collectively mobilize on common digital priorities. Cutting across major sectors of the Canadian economy, public, private and not‑for‑profit, the council harnesses the collective expertise and actions of Canada's CIOs to propel Canada as a digital first nation from major banks, insurance companies, Telcos, energy companies, audit and assurance firms, and traditional IT providers to not‑for‑profits to federal, provincial and municipal governments.
["Innovators in our organizations, embracing digital, championing change, and driving the adoption of Canadian technologies."]
The CIO Strategy Council is harnessing the collective strength of the CIO community from across the country.
["Federal family members:
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Canada School of Public Service
- Innovation, Science, and Economic Development
- National Research Council
- Public Service Commission
- Public Services and Procurement Canada
- Shared Services Canada
- Statistics Canada
- Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
- Transport Canada"]
One third of the CIO Strategy Council's membership is represented by the federal family. In this time of crisis, amid a global pandemic, I am heartened by the passion, drive and mindfulness of our members that they all share as the country's foremost technology leaders. Our members, together with customers, clients and citizens, are all taking on enormous amounts of work to keep our economy going and all of us safe.
["Together we are tackling the leading questions surrounding tech innovation."]
With a strategic, coordinated approach, the CIO Strategy Council, together with its members, are helping to inform the design of disruptive and emerging technologies, and are addressing the most highly rated and most pressing digital policy areas to accelerate responsible technology adoption across all sectors in our Canadian economy, taking action to result in a safer, more prosperous ICT ecosystem for Canada. One that is globally competitive and serves the well‑being of Canadians.
["Taking action to hone Canada's global leadership and competitiveness in the digital economy." The next slide reads, "Canada's only tech focused, accredited standards development organization."]
One way we are taking action is through the development of National Standards of Canada as an accredited standard development organization solely focused on tech. While voluntary in nature, these standards are providing signals to the marketplace on the expectations of products, services and people.
["Playing a critical role in developing much needed national standards for data governance, digital identity, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and more."]
Through our agile, open‑by‑default consensus‑based approach, the CIO Strategy Council has accelerated the standards-setting process in Canada to match the speed of innovation and advancement in ISCT. Developing new standards in months, not years, and making them readily available at no cost to organizations and individuals to implement. Comprised of hundreds of thought leaders and experts from the public service to the private sector to not‑for‑profits, academia and the like, cutting across various sectors of the Canadian economy from coast to coast to coast. It's the hard work of our technical committees that are leading to the publication of the development of critical standards for data governance, AI ethics, digital identity, cybersecurity and more.
["Facilitating ever-important global coordination and collaborating among standards setting bodies, concerning the extraordinary challenges ICT standards development."]
Following unanimous support from member organizations of the Open Community for Ethics in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (OCEANIS), the CIO Strategy Council accepted the nomination to assume the responsibilities of the Secretariat in 2020. Leading the secretariat and serving as the Chair of a steering committee, the CIO Strategy Council penned the OCEANIS strategic plan and is playing a critical role in facilitating ever-important global cooperation or collaboration amongst standards-setting bodies around the world concerning the extraordinary challenges facing information and communication technology centres development fuelled by the digital transformation.
It's important to note that OCEANIS is a body that's not developing standards itself, but is providing a forum for standards-setting bodies that are in fact developing standards from around the world to collectively share information and to leverage work that's currently underway. As a result of us being a founding member of OCEANIS, the CIO Strategy Council spearheaded the launch of the world's first centralized repository that captures AI and related technology standards work from around the world as a measure to support cooperation and collaboration and global alignment.
[White text on a black background reads, "Get involved."]
Finally, to conclude: together, we can better identify the blind spots and opportunities that standards create in order to advance commercialization prospects for Canadian companies on a global scale. Together, we can ensure we are all moving the innovation dial forward by developing and using standards that protect critical capital, like intellectual property ownership, and improve freedom to operate policies. Together, we can ensure start‑ups have the opportunity to influence and identify practical standards solutions that will respond to the barriers they are experiencing in the marketplace. Only together can we move from words to actions and establish Canada's role in the global digital marketplace. Thank you. I will pass things back over to Marta.
Marta: Thank you, Keith and Michel, for those presentations. If you could just close the window for sharing your presentation, that would be great.
[The slide disappears. Marta and Michel's video windows appear alongside Keith's.]
We're going to move on to our next section, which is the discussion. Hopefully being able to field some of your questions from viewers. Please, once again, feel free as the questions come to your mind to post them in the top right of your viewing window. Hopefully I will be getting a list of those shortly so we can use that as a launch point for a discussion. In the interim, I will take a first stab at it and provide the first question for Michel and Keith and I to discuss. I think it's interesting because we've all mentioned Canada's role and where we see the standards opportunities and some of the challenges that need to be addressed. From your perspective, what would be some of Canada's strengths? What are we contributing? What would be the value added? What differentiates our regulators? Our government officials? What would be their unique approach in developing standards in emerging areas? Especially, data governance, which we've all touched upon. I think that's something that we see as being very active in standards development right now at all different types of areas and organizations. Just your thoughts on what are Canada's strengths?
Michel: I can start by saying that Canadians are very well-regarded internationally. We're interested in reaching consensus. We are not intimidating because we are a midsized economy and yet we are a knowledge‑based economy. We bring considerable expertise to the table. I think we're punching beyond our weight, quite frankly, internationally, when it comes to influencing what becomes the consensus around the table. I think our weakness right now is probably the fact that we don't have the institutional capacity to create a Canadian view and come in with one approach or one position that will advance our interests, whether it's our regulatory agenda, the values that Canadians believe are important to be embedded in data governance standards or even our trade objectives and what we need to get out of this system. Large economies: Japan, South Korea, China and now the US is coming back with the Biden administration. You will see representatives from the State Department and Commerce back at the international table. They have organized themselves to come up with more coherent and well-positioned arguments that reflect the country's interests. We need to be better at that in Canada to really take advantage of the system, in my view. Thank you.
Keith: From my perspective, with interactions with a number of departments and agencies on a daily basis, quite frankly, the public service, all the folks that are even attending here today. We have a tremendous talent pool that can be drawn upon in terms of our engagement and as we scope out new standards work and address gaps in areas like you've mentioned around data governance, there's been a significant influence and expertise coming from public service stakeholders into our standards development activities, given that there's tremendous resources that have been pooled within the federal family to effectively address a number of the challenges that we're faced with today, whether it's in our transportation sector, agriculture, health or even within skills and the workforce. There's been tremendous discussion and conversation amongst our council and with the federal family very much representative and having these strategic discussions around things like data governance, where I really find the strength of our Canadian economy and of the people that make up our economy to be quite great. Effectively coming together, coalescing an ecosystem across different sectors of the Canadian economy to help collectively solve for many of the types of challenges is something that I see as a great strength to Canada.
The COVID‑19 pandemic has increased awareness of the fact that the public, private and not‑for‑profit sectors can come together and collectively solve for a number of the challenges that are facing us today and having the ability through something like standards setting as infrastructure, where you're building consensus, you are effectively collectively solving. It's not just public service or regulator saying, "This is what needs to fit within the market." It's effectively, collectively tooling and solutions with industry, consumers and academia to solve for and effectively build an ecosystem that there is collective buy-in for. I think from a strength perspective, I would say we have a tremendous talent pool. It's tapping into that talent to engage in effective mechanisms like standardization, to be able to build consensus toward what effectively would meet policy and regulatory objectives within the federal family.
Marta: Those are fantastic viewpoints, and I think it was really interesting for us in the data governance standardization collaborative to see that expression of voices and having the regulator representation. Being able to have those types of conversations in the context of standards was really enlightening and also felt really empowering to see how much potential we really have in bringing those stakeholders together. I'm just getting a few questions here, so I'll move on to the next one. Standards are clearly important for regulators, but why do standards matter for public servants doing procurement or providing legal advice? Keith, this is something that you had mentioned and if you would like to elaborate, that would be great.
Keith: For sure. Procurement is a really effective tool. You consider the buying power of the federal family. The type of signal you can send to the marketplace is quite significant just by virtue of saying we want this or we want that. The connection for folks that are doing procurement are to consider a few things. The very process you're using up front for procurement currently, and through many partners like Tech Nation and their work with Shared Services Canada around this notion of a public procurement process 3.0, are re‑envisioning and imagining how effectively to procure new technologies in a way that is inclusive and open, and where we can reap the benefit of many different small‑medium enterprises around the table, taking a much more agile, challenge‑based approach. Now, that's unique. There's a pilot happening through Shared Services, but how do we go about then taking that process and having it replicated across the country in a way where we're not operating solely in silos, but actually capitalizing on the intellectual capital that's been gained through the pilot? This is where standards can fit and fill that void. From a process point of view, it's one of the areas where the CIO Strategy Council is effectively developing a national standard for agile procurement around digital products and services to effectively leverage pilots like that through Shared Services Canada in a way to effectively create a process, a way in which other organizations, whether public, private or not‑for‑profit, can reap the benefits from what we've been able to succeed in that type of intellectual capital. That is process.
Now, when it comes to the actual technologies themselves, procurement, again, is a very strategic tool that can be used where you can effectively signal to the marketplace on the expectation of the product or the service. As much as we talked about incorporating standards by reference and regulation, there is nothing stopping public servants from incorporating standards into their procurement in such a way that again ensures the interoperability of products and services, and/or ensures the safety and reliability. Again, it doesn't necessarily mean that the public service needs to say, "For this procurement contract, it needs to be that standard." But, like I talked about in terms of weighted criteria, there can be a point rating system where you're looking at various ways in which the companies are approaching these things and what types of standards they're using so that it isn't necessarily mandatory, but can certainly be point rated, where you're able to get a sense of the type of assurance behind, and confidence around, the technology that you're procuring so far for those that are putting these procurement RFPs together and likewise those that are assessing and evaluating them. There's a very big intersection between standards and procurement that you can leverage.
Marta: The potential for optimization streamlining speaks to everybody that works in procurement and being able to write those specifications. Michel, would you like to add anything?
Michel: I think the question was also about legal advice. It's not only procurement, but legal advice.
Michel: I can tell you if there is an international standard out there for a new product with a certification component to it, it's probably a better pathway to regulate than come up with an entirely new process and consult with Canadians and start from scratch. We're seeing it over and over again. I think the legal community appreciates when standards are being deployed and adopted, especially if there's a certification component to it. I think the issue here for me, and I'm coming back to this whole question here, is that when regulators are developing and maintaining regulations, they need to keep in mind that technologies can evolve quickly and that standards can evolve very quickly as well. I'll just give you an example that I will always remember, and it's about something very mundane: garage door openers. Garage door openers are subject to a lot of health and safety constraints. There were people hacking them and people being hit by them. I remember in a space of five years, the standards body responsible for that standard made 11 new versions of that standard to reflect the technology as it evolved, and certification bodies were quite open to the idea of recertifying products to meet those new standards so that the products could be safe and could continue to evolve from a technology perspective. There's nothing stopping standards bodies and stakeholders to constantly evolve their standards to reflect what's happening when it comes to new technologies.
Keith: The other facet I'll just mention, Marta, is the notion that we talked about standards being voluntary in nature. One important facet to be mindful of is that as much as they're voluntary, they can be referenced in case law. We take many things for granted and we're quite naive in the fact that the economy keeps working. When something bad happens and there's a lawsuit that takes place, if you have a very savvy lawyer, they can point to a standard that's been developed, albeit voluntary, but because it's consensus driven, it can be pointed to as best practice. If an organization can't demonstrate that they've done any due diligence, they can be heavily fined or otherwise. It's another facet to be mindful of. As much as we say they're voluntary, I like to refer to them as quasi‑mandatory because you never know when they're going to come up. In that way, they can have severe consequences should any bad thing happen that doesn't stand the test of public scrutiny or of customers or clients or the like.
Marta: I think it speaks to the volume of the power of having that consensus build. When that due process is followed, even as you said, it's voluntary at the end. There's that already internal adoption based on the stakeholders that were involved in the development of that standard. With the additions and the garage example that Michel brought up, I think what's also a fundamental benefit of these types of standards of development is their agility to be able to respond to updates and technology. Subsequently, the certification aspect can grow along with that emerging technology. As different areas or different risks are identified, there is that ability to respond while still maintaining some sort of structure. I think this is really well to this question here of: how do we make standards for evolving technologies that are flexible enough to adapt to the technology, but still ensures that the standard provides the safety, security or trade facilitation needed?
Keith: That's the business we're in right now when it comes to the Internet of Things devices and anything around the way in which data is consumed or shared across organizations. All of this has significant implications. While at the same time, as much as there's an evolving nature to these things, there is this check and balance that still needs to happen. If you're not in tandem developing standards, you're essentially creating a market that's the Wild West. You're giving the ability for perhaps even larger firms that can leverage their buying power or otherwise to effectively set the rules in their favour. This is why I mentioned one of the reasons the public service has this buying power. It's a force to be reckoned that there is significant ability here.
In terms of the standard we're developing, it's driving toward consensus that does just what the question asks: providing enough safety/security within the framework used, whether it's about the device itself, or the product or the organization in the way in which they go about conducting due diligence, but also not locking into a specific, prescriptive way of doing business to enable for the innovation to still occur and that flexibility. We're not saying it needs to be blue or red. We're saying it needs to have X outcome. The way in which organizations can innovate to achieve those types of outcomes is where we move into more performance‑based standards that can move and continuously improve upon moving forward. As things continue to get established, further codifying accordingly and building that consensus.
Michel: The issue for me with regulators is it's a plea for regulators to get engaged into the system and adopt the incorporation method as amended from time‑to‑time so that you don't inadvertently create a barrier to trade by not referring to the latest version of a document that is probably better equipped to protect health and safety than previous versions. Throw the static references out and adopt as amended from time‑to‑time and come and play with the others so that you're confident that the latest version meets your policy needs.
Marta: Absolutely. I see this very often in JTC 1 in, for example, the Committee for Artificial Intelligence. It's a very dynamic sector and there's an ebb and flow and the advancement of R&D as well as regulatory approaches. I think it's been really great to see Canadians engage with other countries' delegations and being able to understand where their perspectives lie and what the opportunities are for harmonization that can already start being built into that standards development process. At the end of the day, when the standard is published, it's not an exercise in harmonization adoption, but that conversation really begins within the standards development.
I think the pleas from all three of us is around participating and really gaining that awareness of the landscape of the sector and of the topics that you're looking at. There are standards in every single one that you can imagine. There's definitely something for everyone, not only to reference or to look into, but then also to jump on board in the gaps that you may identify from your perspective or from your needs to understand where the opportunities to engage in that initiative that might be underway or to propose a new standard. These are the types of hopefully inspiring opportunities that lie ahead.
[Martha Tropea's video window reappears alongside Marta, Michel, and Keith.]
I wanted to just provide some concluding remarks. I think we all agree about the intrinsic value and strategic tool that standards are from this perspective of innovation. We spent a lot of time on that, but of course, on trade as well. It's an active and dynamic landscape. All of us have a finger on the pulse and we're really happy to share this type of update with you. I will pass on to Martha now to conclude the series.
Martha: Thank you, Marta and Keith and Michel, for a fantastic discussion today. Thank you to the audience for joining us and asking such insightful questions. On behalf of the Canada School of Public Service and CIGI, thank you again. [Translated from French] The next event in the New Economy Series will take place on January 12. The event will focus on digital identity and the opportunities and challenges related to digital identity. So I'll close by saying have a great day!
[Martha smiles and the Zoom call fades out. The animated white Canada School of Public Service logo appears on a purple background. Its pages turn, closing it like a book. A maple leaf appears in the middle of the book that also resembles a flag with curvy lines beneath. The government of Canada Wordmark appears: the word "Canada" with a small Canadian flag waving over the final "a."]