Newly emerging technologies such as an electric-power Smart Grid and national health care information systems promise to transform our society and revitalize the U.S. economy, but they require an unprecedented level of complexity. To be effective their many interconnected components must be fully interoperable, so that they can exchange information and work together seamlessly at a national level.
A nationwide Smart Grid would improve the reliability, flexibility, and efficiency of the power grid, bringing consumers economic benefits while helping to minimize energy consumption. The Smart Grid must incorporate sophisticated new information-technology applications for more than 9,000 power-generation plants connected to more than 300,000 miles of transmission lines, together with local renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, and fuel cells, and interact with the countless smart power meters and appliances of residential and business consumers across the nation. This cannot happen without accepted standards and test and evaluation protocols for interoperability. Major manufacturers have publicly announced plans for the introduction of smart appliances, but they cite the lack of interoperability standards as the greatest risk to their business plans.
Similarly, the electronic health records in use today are based on many individual clinical and technical standards, but there are no widely adopted sets of standards that could integrate them into a single efficient system, and most physician's offices do not presently use any form of electronic health record. Standards-based interoperability for electronic health records is essential to realize their full potential to improve the quality and efficiency of the nation's healthcare system.
Interoperability is not easy to achieve in these complex systems. NIST has deep experience and technical expertise in this field, and can help to establish a framework of standards and related test protocols, and conformity assessment requirements that would facilitate seamless, end-to-end interoperability for both of these technologies. As a respected and trusted technical partner NIST is uniquely positioned to bring together stakeholders from industry, government academia, and standards development organizations to establish consensus-based interoperability standards and conformity tests.
This initiative will support interoperability in smart grid, health care information technology, and other emerging technology areas by enabling NIST to:
NIST work in this area will help bring about: