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Celebrate... World Metrology Day!

Posted 19/05/24

To celebrate World Metrology Day 2024, CTSI is pleased to release of a brand-new film in our Anything But Standard series, highlighting the legal metrology work undertaken by Northern Ireland Trading Standards.

Scroll down to learn more about World Metrology Day - and about Metrology, more generally - and, of course, to watch our fantastic new Anything But Standard film.

Anything But Standard Film : Legal Metrology

This is the latest film in our acclaimed Anything But Standard series, highlighting the legal metrology work undertaken by Northern Ireland Trading Standards (click here to see more films in our Anything But Standard series). 


What is World Metrology Day?

World Metrology Day is an annual UNESCO International Day that aims to promote metrology in line with UNESCO’s aims to improve the world through science and education. Also known as 'Weights & Measures', metrology is a cornerstone of Trading Standards, focusing on all weighed and measured goods, from home heating and petrol to groceries.

History of World Metrology Day

The annual celebration of World Metrology Day on 20 May commemorates the signature of the Metre Convention on 20th May 1875, where representatives from 17 nations set out the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement. This is how the metric system became standard use in countries around the world and remains so today. The original aim of the Metre Convention – societally, industrially, and commercially – remains as important today as it was in 1875.

Theme for 2024 : Sustainability

This year’s theme is Sustainability, marking the important role that metrology plays in ensuring accurate weighing and measuring in our global economy as well as in data gathering for policy formation and delivery.

Metrology has a significant role to play in sustainability, including measuring energy use in industries, buildings, and transportation, as well as managing resources in agriculture and forestry, identifying pollution sources, and setting targets for environmental protection. To achieve regulatory compliance, it is vital to have accurate measuring of vehicle emissions, and measurement is also crucial to the assessment and management of manufacturing processes and waste streams, which contribute to environmental stewardship.


But... what is Metrology?

In simple terms, Metrology is the scientific study of measurement. It establishes a common understanding of units, crucial in linking human activities. Modern metrology has its roots in the French Revolution's political motivation to standardise units in France when a length standard taken from a natural source was proposed. This led to the creation of the decimal-based metric system in 1795, establishing a set of standards for other types of measurements. Several other countries adopted the metric system between 1795 and 1875; to ensure conformity between the countries, the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) was established by the Metre Convention. This has evolved into the International System of Units (SI) as a result of a resolution at the 11th General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in 1960.

Metrology is divided into three basic overlapping activities:

  • The definition of units of measurement
  • The realisation of these units of measurement in practice
  • Traceability - linking measurements made in practice to the reference standards.

In each country, a National Measurement System (NMS) exists as a network of laboratories, calibration facilities and accreditation bodies which implement and maintain its metrology infrastructure. The NMS affects how measurements are made in a country and their recognition by the international community, which has a wide-ranging impact in its society (including economics, energy, environment, health, manufacturing, industry and consumer confidence). In the UK, this function is provided by the National Physics Laboratory (NPL).

The effects of metrology on trade and economy are some of the easiest-observed societal impacts - to facilitate fair trade, there must be an agreed-upon system of measurement.

[ Source: Wikipedia - Metrology - Wikipedia ].

Metrology in the UK

In the UK, Legal metrology - more commonly referred to as Weights and Measures - is now the responsibility of the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS), a world leader in Legal Metrology. It supports local government through its purpose-built laboratories in Teddington, and upholds its statutory duties. 

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute was founded, in 1881, as the 'Incorporated Society of Inspectors of Weights and Measures' and its members continue this practice all around the country - ensuring that businesses comply with the officially recognised weights and measures, and so much more. So, the next time you order drinks in a pub or buy petrol from a petrol station, raise a glass to the army of dedicated professionals who ensure you're not short-changed!


Want to Learn More?

You can find out more about World Metrology Day at World Metrology Day - 20 May 2024. Or watch the informative film below!  


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