Having first mandated what type of bolts should be used on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australian standards are now confronting new challenges in the digital economy and energy spaces.

Up to 4000 new standards will be required over the next decade as Australia encounters energy challenges, digital threats and natural disasters, a new report says.

About 10,000 Australian benchmarks have been developed over the past century, helping design and protect places and infrastructure including Parliament House and Melbourne’s tram network.

“The pace and scope of change is accelerating, brought about by the digitisation of the global economy, innovation, scientific breakthroughs and evolving societal tastes,” Standards Australia chief executive Adrian O’Connell said.

Thousands of new national standards will help with the transition to a digital economy, strengthen cyber attack systems, mitigate the impact of natural disasters and move toward alternative energy such as hydrogen, he says.

“Without the right national standards in these areas, we risk falling behind the rest of the world in terms of best-safety practice.

“This will require the collaboration of experts and the support of governments, industry and civic leaders.”

A cyber attack is encountered every eight minutes, costing the economy about $33 billion a year, Standards Australia says.

The cost of natural disasters is expected to almost double by 2050, from about $20 billion currently to $39 billion.

In the face of an increasing threat of natural disasters, National Housing Resilience Guides are being examined to show home owners how well equipped their homes are to withstand bushfires, cyclones and floods.

The Iconic Nation Report, released on Monday, details how standards have helped safeguard the operation of Australia’s $1.8 trillion economy.

“Many Australians may not realise how many of our most treasured national icons are underpinned by Australian standards,” Mr O’Connell said.

“These include the Port Lincoln tuna pens in South Australia, Port Arthur in Tasmania, Central Park Tower in Perth, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sydney Opera House, Australian War Memorial and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.”

Cyber security, natural disasters, the environment, hydrogen energy and critical and emerging technologies are the five key areas identified in the new report.

Standards Australia is the nation’s peak standards development organisation.

Nick Gibbs
(Australian Associated Press)