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Metrology enables technology

Measurement and metrology will be essential to maintain and enhance global wellbeing, sustainability and enterprise. Metrology concerns the infrastructure that ensures we have confidence in the accuracy of measurement and the adoption of technology.

As society responds to the challenges of resource limitations, increased automation and digitalisation, key technological advances will require and facilitate new ways of measuring. Metrology will support better understanding of complex systems and decisions made by machine learning algorithms, artificial intelligence or based on large quantities of data. A digitally enabled global measurement infrastructure should be a key priority as industry responds to the changes in society.

NPL works with partners nationally and internationally, and we invite you to collaborate with us so that we may realise this vision together. We will use the findings of this work, in collaboration with national and international partners, to set the agenda for metrology research over the coming decade.

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Technology and Measurement Foresighting booklet

A word from our CEO

"NPL has a national mission and a responsibility to ensure that new and emerging technologies are backed up by reliable and robust measurements, and that decisions are made based on accurate data which we fully understand – its provenance, timeliness and source."

"Our Foresighting work will, therefore, influence how NPL develops over the next decade and beyond. As a leading NMI we are keen to prompt the international debate about which disruptive technologies will enhance and impact measurement and metrology."

"The work highlights how a ‘metrology mindset’ will help us be confident in understanding the complexities of our world – from biological systems and the human body to transport systems and the electricity grid.” 

 Dr Peter Thompson FREng FInstP FRSC 
Chief Executive Officer, National Physical Laboratory 

NPL’s Chief Scientist reflects on the role of Foresighting

“Many organisations publish their thinking about potential futures but NPL, as the UK’s National Metrology Institute, has a unique perspective on technology changes and a key role to play in enabling them. Whether it’s driving the green recovery or ensuring intelligent use of data, the UK’s position as a science superpower depends on looking to the future and being one step ahead. Metrology, the science of measurement, continues to play a key role in innovation and has already enabled many new technologies to come to fruition, such as hydrogen fuel cells, radiotherapy, global satellite navigation and wireless communications.   

The aim of this work was to explore the implications of new technologies and trends on the future of the measurement, which will help us set future research priorities for NPL. Therefore, we asked ourselves the questions: 

  1. Which new trends will change why we perform measurements? 
  2. Which new technologies will change how we perform measurements? 

I hope that this Foresighting work will motivate discussions with colleagues, collaborators and stakeholders about the future of measurement and I invite you to contact us so that we may work together to realise this vision.” 

Prof Jan-Theodoor (JT) Janssen CPhys FInstP FIET  
Chief Scientist, National Physical Laboratory 

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