By: Leonard Letea, Project Manager, Standards, CSA Group

As we look to the future, our economies will increasingly depend on the seamless integration of technology and the safe trade of products to empower communities throughout the Americas. Standards and conformity assessments play an important role in making this happen.

In late February, political leaders, economists, businesses, and standards development experts gathered in Chicago for CANENA’s (Council for Harmonization of Electrotechnical Standards of the Nations in the Americas) 26th Annual General Meeting to engage in strategic discussions on smart cities, cybersecurity, and harmonized standards – topics that go beyond this single event and which will continue to drive policy and business decisions for years to come.

With more people choosing to live in cities, governments are faced with the challenge of enhancing their livability, workability, and sustainability. Half of the world’s population already lives in cities, but that number is expected to reach almost 70 percent in 2050. Urban population growth will significantly increase the demand for water (by more than 500 percent), food (by more than 60 percent), and energy (by more than 80 percent). These cities will also need to replace aging infrastructure while considering the effects of climate change.

Technology, supported by the Internet of Things (IoT), can help make cities ‘smarter’.  Examples of efforts currently underway include:

  • Smart City San Diego, a collaborative effort aimed at achieving energy efficiency, increasing the adoption of electric vehicles, reducing pollution, and encouraging economic growth. One initiative involves transforming San Diego into a “2030 District”, where participating buildings cut their energy, water, and transportation emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
  • Singapore striving to become the world’s first smart nation. Many projects are being implemented to ease congestion, make transportation cleaner, support smart housing, and make buildings more sustainable.
  • The Dubai Strategy for Self-Driving Smart Transportation, which aims to convert 25 percent of the total number of trips in Dubai to driverless trips by 2030.
  • North America’s Smart Cities Council Urban Mobility Task Force, which “will prepare cities to successfully implemement solutions that reduce congestion, reduce costs, reduce carbon, and expand and integrate transportation services for a more safe, seamless, acccessible and equitable mobility experience.”[1]

These initiatives are heavily reliant on IoT-connected technology, which requires robust cybersecurity measures. CANENA offered a platform to discuss some of the common cyber threats, vulnerabilities, and opportunities, while examining current standards that can help governments and industry mitigate these risks. CSA Group has been investigating cybersecurity trends for quite some time, and developed its own cybersecurity evaluation program based on leading international standards, such as IEC 62433 Cybersecurity Standards, the NIST Guide 800 series, and the ISO 27000 Security Management Standards.

Finally, a conversation related to trade in North America revealed the importance of harmonized standards and conformity assessments – the building blocks for trade. Addressing the current lack of harmonized standards, duplicative conformity assessments, onerous quality registrations and multiple testing programs, delegates stressed the need for collaboration, development of functional standards (instead of design standards), and making standards less rigid so they can evolve and reflect major developments as they arise.

The world is quickly changing and there is a growing need to safely adopt connected technologies to make our communities smarter and more sustainable so that they thrive in an inter-connected global economy. Our conversations at CANENA made it clear that standards can help pave the way.

[1] Retrieved from: