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Dear Reader,

Roland Bent

"To promote accident prevention in the interests of public safety and consumer protection, in particular to protect the users of electrical engineering, electronics, information technology and computer science products, to protect the public from physical danger, and to protect property, the environment and other values": that is how it is phrased in the VDE statutes. This primary objective of ensuring that people remain safe when dealing with electricity is largely achieved by means of electrotechnical standardization. This guiding principle has given rise to a comprehensive set of standards over the last 120 years. VDE 0100, which details the safe construction of low-voltage installations, was the original VDE standard, yet the subsequent decades saw the development of specific standards for a wide range of electrotechnical applications.

Rapid technological progress, especially in the last 20 years, has confronted us with many technologies and application complexes such as the Smart Grid, Industry 4.0 or electric mobility which are highly systemic in nature. Convergent, cross-cutting technological issues such as information security run consistently through all applications. Right from the outset, standards have constituted an important basic framework and provide guidance in these complex topics. They link together the individual areas to create the great technical themes of today. Jointly established standards require cross-disciplinary cooperation and bring together players from such diverse areas as medicine, engineering, sociology and business, for example, to create a working group in the field of Active Assisted Living. The same applies to Industry 4.0, where the machinery and plant producers are working hand in hand with automation technicians and IT specialists. Consensus-based standards and specifications are essential prerequisites for the successful implementation of new concepts and technologies in such cross-cutting issues. But technological change is not the only factor here. The standardization policy framework is also changing. There are increasing calls for freely available standards, more transparency and shorter turnaround times. An efficient, continuously optimized system for electrotechnical standardization represents a key element in securing the future of Germany as a business location. Methods for achieving this now need to be found.

Standardization roadmaps represent one solution. DKE technical experts are releasing increasing numbers of these publications on the key application complexes, with the goal of making the jointly generated results available to interested groups and policy makers. Such publications pick up on the latest developments, foster a common understanding and help raise awareness in related areas. In doing so they pave the way for integrated solutions, highlight the need for standards and specifications and serve as a strategic model for European and international standardization work. The DKE is rising to face the challenge of technological development by adopting this cross-disciplinary approach. But the future holds further challenges which also need to be overcome. Possible solutions could lie in the targeted use of modern IT tools or in the optimization of processes or organizational structures. Topics such as content management, online communication and standards management are discussed and addressed in the DKE's own internal “Standardization 2020” programme which focuses primarily on the strategic orientation and ongoing development of the DKE’s services for standards users and technical experts.

We are considering new forms of cooperation and new methods of online standard processing and commenting. We are installing tools like the Use Case Management Repository as the basis of new approaches for standardization. We are using new communication channels such as social media and webinars for the dissemination of standards-related and other information.

With safety as our goal, and as guardians of the knowledge about tomorrow’s technologies, we are committed to

Roland Bent, President of the DKE