Uniformity: Is this the key to creating best practice engineering standards in New Zealand?

Christopher Maguire MWH
Chris Maguire, project manager for MWH Global

Did you know that there are 78 local authorities in New Zealand, the majority of which have differing engineering design standards? There is a significant opportunity for local authorities to move towards the creation of uniform standards across the country, enabling our industry to provide higher quality, more efficient service that will ultimately benefit all New Zealand communities.

Land and infrastructure development in the local government context has seen innovation grown over the past decade. The availability of new materials and products on the market has seen improved efficiencies in production and in the supply costs of certain products. However there is still an inconsistency in the application of standards across local government both regionally and nationally.

Modern New Zealand is a highly connected and highly mobile country. The availability of technology has broken down the traditional local government territorial barriers and there is a greater trend to infrastructure design and development design centres operating across boundaries both national and international.

This cross border working raises the question of inefficiencies with territorial specific infrastructure design standards. There is potential for one designer to work on multiple projects in different regions each with their own specific standard. Similarly a supplier may have approval to supply standard products to one council but for another council there is a unique design or solution required.

Chris Maguire won the 2015 HYNDS Paper of the Year Award at the 2015 Institute of Public Works Engineers Australasia International Conference (IPWEA) last week in Rotorua for his paper that aims to encourage discussion of the scale of the issue in New Zealand and to promote a move towards open sourced design standards and improving innovation.

You can read Chris Maguire’s full paper titled, “Standardising Standards & Creating ‘Best Practice'” here.

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