NESC Mobile App Brings Full Content of Electrical Code to the Field
Who says you can't teach an old code new tricks? The US electrical safety code is over 100 years old, with a significant record of safety in practice. It's also a thick book to carry around in the field, until it isn't, says IEEE Standard Association's director of new opportunities Norman Shaw.
"It's been available in PDF form, but that's not that useable when you're 30 feet in the air and all you have is your phone, either," Shaw says. "We converted the entire code to XML, so you can use it on a tablet or a phone."
"It has all the content of the code-it is the standard," Shaw says. "It has the typical navigation features, global search, the ability to highlight, bookmark and make notes. There are online links such as a dictionary of terms. It contains a lot of the commonly used equations, so you can enter parameters via pulldown menus and get the answers. You can toggle easily between English and metric measurements. And there are videos of experts, so if you read the code and you're not quite sure about something, you can hear from the people who know."
That's an impressive list of options far beyond what a printed book offers, but Shaw says they will continue to add features. "We'll add maps, so you can enter GPS coordinates and get specific codes for where you are for local variables like wind resistance," he says. "And there's a lot of the grid that's grandfathered in, so we'll have the historic codes so you can look up the code to which a specific line was originally built."
While it's the US code, Shaw says it's really an app with universal application. "Many parts of the world, like Latin America, don't really have a full electrical code, just bits and pieces. They can rely on the US code, which represents the experience of decades and, frankly, what we learned from many accidents along the way." Plans are under development to produce a Spanish version of the mobile app as well.
The Name is Squirrel. Zappy the Squirrel
There are technical dangers to electrical substations. And then there are four-legged furry ones. To spread awareness of how to deal with animals determined to expensively chew their way into being barbecue, there's Professor Zappy the Squirrel, now the star of a new video game teaching rodent electrification prevention.
"It started around 2013. Everybody was interested in emerging technology, and a lot of engineers saw IEEE as representing old tech," says Zappy's… creator, IEEE Standards Association's senior technology solutions specialist Luigi Napoli. "We thought we needed a way to make the everyday technology that makes the world run fun to think about."
IEEE 1264™, a standard for animal deterrent in substations, a major source of power outages, offered a natural opportunity. IEEE-SA created three videos featuring Zappy, a cable-chewing, accident-prone squirrel. Zappy caught on and he became a plush toy given away at conferences, as well as a regular interviewee on the Beyond IEEE blog and, inevitably, the proprietor of Twitter and Instagram accounts. And now the Zappy Squirrel game for iOs and Google Android, in which you "help Zappy the Squirrel run, jump, climb, and use whatever tools are available to get through all the obstacles at the metropolis electric power station," is available.
Napoli says Zappy has been a hit with the college audience. "We use him at career fairs, he draws students to STEM. This is important because we need to attract interest the standards process in emerging technologies. By the time technology becomes mature, it's too late to standardize.
Global Engagement Critical to Standardization Worldwide
Standardization of technology helps make improvements in everything from health care devices to renewable energy, enabling innovators from countries around the world to share their inventions beyond their local markets and increases economic development. IEEE standards and other products can play a vital role in technology advancement and it is our mission to advance technology for humanity. This is why IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) seeks cooperation with organizations and stakeholders around the world to achieve global inclusiveness in supporting interoperability and promoting the advancement of technology for humanity. Here are some of the ways IEEE-SA global engagement works:
- General Cooperation: IEEE-SA cooperates on joint activities with other organizations, ranging from joint workshops to other deliverables. For instance, IEEE-SA worked with the Chinese National Institute for Standardization (CNIS) to create a three-part video series on the basics of standards education, geared for the undergraduate engineering student. Each video is intended to serve as a "guest lecturer" in the classroom, filling in gaps that a professor might have in his or her standards background or providing an additional level of detail. Scripts were developed jointly with CNIS, and CNIS provided the translations as well. (http://www.standardsuniversity.org/video/standards-education-strategic-standardization-chinese-subtitles/).
- National adoption of IEEE standards: Instead of investing resources in developing new standards, national standards bodies (NSBs) can adopt IEEE standards that already exist, benefiting from the speed and interoperability that comes from adopting existing standards rather than developing new ones. IEEE-SA has agreements with many NSBs that allow countries to formally adopt IEEE standards as national standards. For example, IEEE-SA recently signed such agreements with the NSBs in Ecuador and Rwanda.
- Global Standards Collaboration (GSC): This is an unincorporated voluntary organization that works to increase global cooperation in the communications standards space. IEEE-SA, as a GSC member, will host the 21st meeting of the GSC in Vienna in September 2017.
The IEEE-SA Global Engagement web pages keep an ongoing account of cooperative relationships: http://standards.ieee.org/develop/intl/mou.html
How to Find a Project's Status at IEEE
At any moment, dozens of projects are working their way through the standards process at IEEE-SA, and hundreds more are completed and available as published standards. But how do you know the status of something in your field? Depending on what you want, there are many ways to answer that question at the IEEE-SA website with differing levels of information:
- At the homepage, two of the first things you see are search boxes labeled "Find a standard" or "Find a project or group." A standards number ("802.1") or a keyword ("wireless") will take you to individual standards or working groups. This is the quickest way to find a published standard, which you can purchase from that standard's page, or to go to a working group's page to see everything they have worked on in their area of technology.
- If you want to know about proposed or revised standards still in the standardization process, the Standards Board page gives you access to the agendas for NesCom (reviews new project proposals) and RevCom (reviews process for completed draft standards). Click on either, then click on Meeting Information and you'll see past and upcoming agendas; you can open an agenda and do a control-F search within it to find your item of interest.
- Also on the Standards Board page, there's a link for Board Approvals. After each quarterly meeting a list is published of projects which have been started ("New PARS"), usually indicated by a P before the standard number, ones approved for publication ("New Standards"), and new and published revisions.