My dream of a single power plug on World Standards Day

World Standards Day is celebrated internationally each year on 14 October.

The idea of this day is to remind people of the importance of standards, and to honour the efforts of all those involved in the development and maintenance of various standards within the different standards organisations such as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Development of standards is a detailed, precise and often thankless job, that is usually done on a voluntary basis. And unless you run into a situation where your life is complicated as a result of a lack of standardisation, you may very likely not even be aware of the important roles standards and interoperability play in our daily lives.

The theme of this year’s World Standards Day is “Less waste, better results – Standards increase efficiency.” As explained by the World Standards Cooperation (WSC), international standards help to harmonize manufacturing and other processes across the globe, which allow components etc from different manufacturers to ‘fit together like pieces in a puzzle’. Standards support interoperability and compatibility and facilitate market access to new products. And all this do indeed contribute to a more efficient and less wasteful world.

Non-standardised power supplies must be one of the most frustrating headaches facing anyone endeavouring to travel internationally.
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I guess as someone who has travelled to a few countries, and who has lived in more than one country, I personally find one of the most frustrating examples of non-standardisation being the absurd range of different electrical plug and socket standards in different countries. Having to replace plugs, buy various country-specific adapters, or replace power cables, is an excellent example where a lack of standards leads to less efficiency and more waste. How this disparity came about I have no idea. And why, in this day and age, have things not progressed to a single standard (at least among countries working on a similar voltage and current rating) makes even less sense. Surely it cannot be that difficult – just go for the most pervasive standard, or better still, choose the one that actually works best, and go with that?

So, like Martin Luther King of old, I also have a dream. It is not a very big dream, but it is a dream that can, in its own small way, change the world. On this World Standards Day my dream is to travel the world with a single, universal power plug that fits the sockets of all countries across the globe. Is that too much to ask? 🙂