Statement by the Hon. Kerrie Symmonds, Minister of Energy and Business Development for World Metrology Day May 20, 2022
Theme “Metrology in the Digital Era”
Fellow Barbadians, as the world repositions to rebound from the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the severe impact this pandemic has had on our social and economic environment, Barbados joins countries around the world to recognize, today May 20, 2022, as World Metrology Day. On this day, countries around the world commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Metre Convention of 1875. This treaty provides the basis for a worldwide coherent measurement system that underpins scientific discovery and innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade, as well as the improvement of the quality of life and the protection of the global environment.
Known to be the science of measurement, Metrology plays a central role in scientific discovery, innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade. It is evident in our efforts to improve the quality of life and in protecting the global environment. It provides for policy makers with confidence in the data, which measures the impact of the actions to deliver the best possible decisions on climate and emissions data for example.
As Barbados began to reopen its borders to international travel, following the shut down as a result of Covid-19, many new and innovative technologies emerged. Among them, the introduction of easy-to-use apps, designed to simplify and expedite the travel experience. Government too, has embarked on the process of digitally transforming its public service. The issue of cyber security is being addressed and measures are being put in place to protect our digital systems against unwanted cyber-attacks.
The theme chosen for this year, “Metrology in the Digital Era”, is quite timely, as digital technology is well incorporated into a significant part of our country’s strategic Plans. The Barbados Government and Barbadian enterprises have engaged in a meaningful way, to use digital technology as a major tool to revolutionize our community and transform the way we do business today. For example, the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office’s (CAIPO) new digital Corporate Registry has created a user friendly digital experience, ensuring that doing business would be convenient, fast, agile and transparent. Additionally, the recently concluded virtual digital conference, hosted by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, emphasized the importance of the development of the new online platform for the acquisition of liquor licenses, as well as the inclusion of a digital ‘Trident National Identification Card’, clearly signaling that as a country, we are moving towards a digital society.
Our Prime Minister Mia Mottley has been quoted to have said that “The Caribbean has many untapped digital possibilities and opportunities that can make the region a strong competitor globally.” In fact, one strategic focus of this Government is to position Barbados to become a leader in the process of generating ‘topic ideas’ that appeal to specific audiences and then utilizing technology to create written or visual content around those topics. The country will then have the opportunity to develop into a hub for wider technological innovation. There is no question that a major part of this strategy will need targeted investments in digital technology, where regional governments must make regulations and policies more ‘fit for purpose’, by utilizing modern digital systems as we develop our national quality infrastructure.
My Ministry recognizes the imminent inclusion of a National Quality Policy for Barbados, which was developed to improve the competitiveness of Barbados’ goods and services and to maximize the use of a well-developed National Quality Infrastructure. Within the proposed Policy, recommendations are made, that when dealing with the international development agencies and donor agencies, the Government of Barbados will ‘Seek support for the transfer of quality related technology to Barbados.’ At the Policy level therefore, we see the country’s commitment to technology and by extension the digital systems supporting technology. The National Quality Policy will also provide the institutional framework needed for the implementation of quality initiatives in virtually all segments of the Barbadian society. The Policy speaks to digital recommendations being made to enhance the quality of goods and services, using digital platforms to facilitate Barbados’ access to global markets and utilizing the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for the easy digital development, access and distribution of international standards.
Similarly, our efforts to proclaim a comprehensive Metrology Act in the not too distant future, will also embrace all aspects of metrology, thereby harmonising Barbados’ legislative and strategic plans with those in the international arena. Again, significant consideration to modern digital requirements has been made, where the Act will provide the legal framework for the development of Barbados’ metrology system. The inclusion of more digital approaches to metrology infrastructure, including for example: the calibration of digital blood pressure devices, breathalyzers, speed guns and temperature guns have been considered. A main objective of this upcoming Act is the ‘facilitation of fair trade’ through harmonised written standards, consistent measurement standards and internationally accepted digital certificates.
Overall, it is viewed that the deployment of quality and standards in production, taking into account adequate us of digital technology, is a good competitive strategy that would allow for increased quality awareness in production and increased national productivity. This approach will allow Barbadian enterprises not only to become more competitive on the international scene, but to be able to fully exploit the numerous opportunities that present themselves, making them more resilient and sustainable. Further to this, we in the Ministry give full support to the ‘National Service Sector Development Strategy’, which intends to provide a framework for inclusive and sustainable development. This strategy acknowledges that the driving factor behind the development of offshore outsourcing for example, has been the need to cut costs, while the enabling factor has been the global electronic internet network, that allows digital data to be accessed and delivered instantly, from and to almost anywhere in the world. In order to provide services with predetermined qualities, the ‘metrology of Internet networks’ must be able to measure these qualities. Secondly, metrology must answer the questions about the model(s) of Internet traffic. It changes the whole process of research and engineering of Internet networks and becomes the cornerstone.
As the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) is designated the National Metrology Institute (NMI), I am appealing for more businesses to join the Institution and become active members, in order to benefit from the services and technical assistance offered through the various initiatives. Businesses stand to gain tremendous benefits through BNSI engagement. One advantage to businesses is getting the appropriate guidance in how to implement strong quality management systems, along with digital applications, into business activity. This is especially needed when it comes to micro, small and medium sized businesses. It is believed that incorporating digital capabilities within this strategy, will enable businesses of all sizes to be more internationally competitive and recognized, which should allow them to tap into the huge potential of the export market for their goods and services.
With this in sight, the BNSI has launched a new initiative called “Get Certified – Get Recognized – Get Global Business”. Businesses that participate in this initiative become certified to international standards and therefore obtain international recognition. A large component of the initiative involves training through digital platforms and the use of digital technology to assess the implementation of a sound quality management system. Naturally, the recognition offered through being certified opens doors to new business, giving certified businesses a competitive advantage over their competitors and better positions them for greater success. In this vein, I encourage ALL Barbadian businesses to engage with the BNSI and use this opportunity to build strong digital systems of quality into their operations, where they are eligible to become certified. This paves the way for Barbadian businesses to not only survive, but to assert themselves as a serious competitor, in an aggressive and dynamic global market place.
May God bless you all and guide us through this unprecedented time.