IEEE reaches out to constituents through StandardsAmericas site

The Insitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org) is reaching out to its constituents through StandardsAmericas, a multidimensional Web site.

The Insitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; www.ieee.org) is reaching out to its constituents through StandardsAmericas, a multidimensional Web site.

The site — www.standardsamericas.com — is designed to reach people who wish to learn about, develop and access technical standards covering telecommunications, information technology, power and energy.

The IEEE believes the site is demonstrating an interrelatedness of the standards, and bringing together those who help formulate standards or use them. It also hopes the site is reinforcing the benefits of the standards, and showing how companies are seeing a return-on-investment from them.

"It gives us a better opportunity to be closer to our membership, and provide information based on their geo-economic needs," says John Day, manager of e-business for the IEEE Standards Association, based in Piscataway, NJ.

The site provides access throughout North, Central and South America to technical standards created by the IEEE and other standards development organizations. Ben Johnson, president of the IEEE Standards Association, says the site is reaching out to companies, trade organizations, government bodies and educational institutions.

"StandardsAmericas illustrates the interrelatedness of the standards world," says Johnson. "It brings together all parties involved."

The site represents a portion of what Day refers to as a "global rollout" of the IEEE's standards portal network, which has been in the development stages since November 2001. Through this effort, the IEEE has also stablished www.Standardsasia.net and www.Standardseurope.net this year.

"One size doesn't fit all [the world]in how we put out information, so a series of portals focuses on different areas," says Day.

The StandardsAmericas site offers a shopping feature ("StandardsShop") where companies can purchase copies of standards, specifications and guides. It also includes links to IEEE "Standards Zones," which lets viewers explore standards in specific technologies, such as wireless communications.

The IEEE's site also features a "Community Spotlight," which tells of how engineers are using the standards on the job. This part of the site profiles individuals who use standards every day, and also provides case studies on why standards are important for different organizations.

The site also provides links to IEEE-SA's international standards partners, including the International Electrotechnical Commission, International Organization for Standardization and the International Telecommunications Union.

Day says the IEEE hopes that the portal will prove to be a valuable tool for informing people about upgrades to standards. IEEE bylaws require that existing standards be reviewed, on a minimum, every five years. He points to the wireless 802 standards that are now being upgraded to accommodate developments in the technology. "Standards are reviewed periodically to assess their relevance in the marketplace, and often those standards evolve with the technologies in the marketplace," says Day.

Updates are "driven by the technology that use the standards, and the faster the pace of the technologies, the more they [standards] are updated more frequently," Day continues.

The site isn't meant to reach out to constituents alone. Day says it is also designed to reach volunteers who help create standards, along with existing members and international partners. The IEEE is using the site to link specialists working on standards around the world, and to show them how companies or institutions are using them. Specialists are using the site to get updates on the IEEE and standards association activities.

Membership is not limited to the United States. "We've received numerous inquiries from Asia from those who want to participate," Day says. "We anticipate that by 2010, 50 percent of our membership will be outside of the United States."

"This network is the most cost-effective means to preserving our membership," concludes Day.

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