NIST tackles measurement

Roadmapping America's Measurement Needs

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology will lead a series of workshops this year to gather information for improving the nation's measurement capabilities in critical areas such as broadband communications, data storage technologies and new health care and homeland security technologies.

The initiative, announced last week, will help the agency uncover new measurement needs and set 21st century priorities, said NIST spokesman Mark Bello. NIST will host a U.S. Measurement Summit in early 2006, which will provide a venue for discussing how to address the nation’s new measurement priorities.

"We're talking about the building blocks for good standards," Bello said. "If you want to improve the quality of your software or diagnostic testing, for example, you need the basics to be good and to be reliable."

The initiative, which NIST officials have dubbed "Roadmapping America's Measurement Needs for a Strong Innovation Infrastructure," is beyond anything NIST has done in the past, said Steven Ray, chief of the Manufacturing Systems Integration Division at NIST. "It seems clear that as a society we have to look at taking a rigorous approach to measurements in information systems," he said.

"Where we want to be is having techniques to give us the same confidence in complex systems that we have in today’s toaster that has a very simple chip embedded in it."

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