International Organization for Standardization

International Organization for Standardization

Infobox Organization
name = International Organization for Standardization Organisation internationale de normalisation

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mcaption = list of members
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formation = 23 February 1947
type = NGO
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purpose = International standard
headquarters = flagicon|Switzerland Geneva, Switzerland
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membership = 157 members
language = English and French
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The International Organization for Standardization ("Organisation internationale de normalisation"), widely known as ISO (pron-en|ˈɑɪsəʊ), is an international-standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on 23 February 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary industrial and commercial standards. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. [cite web
title=Discover ISO – Meet ISO
year=© 2007

While ISO defines itself as a non-governmental organization, its ability to set standards that often become law, either through treaties or national standards, makes it more powerful than most non-governmental organizations. In practice, ISO acts as a consortium with strong links to governments.

Name and abbreviation

The organization's logos in its two official languages, English and French, include the word "ISO" (pron-en|ˈʌɪsəʊ), and it is usually referred to by this short-form name. "ISO" is not an acronym or initialism for the organization's full name in either official language. Rather, the organization adopted "ISO" based on the Greek word Polytonic|ἴσος ("isos"), meaning "equal". Recognizing that the organization’s initials would be different in different languages, the organization's founders chose "ISO" as the universal short form of its name. This, in itself, reflects the aim of the organization: to equalize and standardize across cultures.cite web
title=ISO's name
] [cite web
title=Discover ISO – ISO's name

International Standards and other publications

ISO's main products are the International Standards. ISO also publishes Technical Reports, Technical Specifications, Publicly Available Specifications, Technical Corrigenda, and Guides.The ISO directives are published in two distinct parts:
*cite web
title="ISO Directives, Part 1: Procedures for the Technical Work". 5th Edition

*cite web
title="ISO Directives, Part 2: Rules for the structure and drafting of International Standards". 5th Edition

International Standards are identified in the format "ISO [/IEC] [/ASTM] [IS] nnnnn [:yyyy] Title", where "nnnnn" is the number of the standard, "yyyy" is the year published, and "Title" describes the subject. "IEC" for "International Electrotechnical Commission" is included if the standard results from the work of ISO/IEC JTC1 (the ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee). "ASTM" is used for standards developed in cooperation with ASTM International. The date and "IS" are not used for an incomplete or unpublished standard, and may under some circumstances be left off the title of a published work.

Technical Reports are issued when "a technical committee or subcommittee has collected data of a different kind from that which is normally published as an International Standard". such as references and explanations. The naming conventions for these are the same as for standards, except "TR" prepended instead "IS" in the report's name. Examples:
* ISO/IEC TR 17799:2000 Code of Practice for Information Security Management
* ISO/TR 19033:2000 Technical product documentation — Metadata for construction documentation

Technical Specifications can be produced when "the subject in question is still under development or where for any other reason there is the future but not immediate possibility of an agreement to publish an International Standard". Publicly Available Specifications may be "an intermediate specification, published prior to the development of a full International Standard, or, in IEC may be a 'dual logo' publication published in collaboration with an external organization". Both are named by convention similar to Technical Reports, for example:
* ISO/TS 16952-1:2006 Technical product documentation — Reference designation system — Part 1: General application rules
* ISO/PAS 11154:2006 Road vehicles — Roof load carriers

ISO sometimes issues a Technical Corrigendum. These are amendments to existing standards because of minor technical flaws, usability improvements, or to extend applicability in a limited way. Generally, these are issed with the expectation that the affected standard will be updated or withdrawn at its next scheduled review.

ISO Guides are meta-standards covering "matters related to international standardization". They are named in the format "ISO [/IEC] Guide N:yyyy: Title", for example:
* ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004 Standardization and related activities — General vocabulary
* ISO/IEC Guide 65:1996 General requirements for bodies operating product certification

ISO document copyright

ISO documents are copyrighted and ISO charges for copies of most. ISO does not, however, charge for most draft copies of documents in electronic format. Although useful, care must be taken using these drafts as there is the possibility of substantial change before it becomes finalized as a standard. Some standards by ISO and its official U.S. representative (and the International Electrotechnical Commission's via the U.S. National Committee) are made freely available. [cite web
title=Freely Available ISO Standards
year=Last updated 2007-08-08
] [cite web
title=Free ANSI Standards


450px|thumb|right|A map of standards bodies who are ISO members">

legend|#000000|other places with an ISO 3166-1 code who aren't members of ISO

ISO has 157 national members, [cite web
title=General information on ISO
year=© 2007
] out of the 195 total countries in the world.

ISO has three membership categories:
* Member bodies are national bodies that are considered to be the most representative standards body in each country. These are the only members of ISO that have voting rights.
* Correspondent members are countries that do not have their own standards organization. These members are informed about ISO's work, but do not participate in standards promulgation.
* Subscriber members are countries with small economies. They pay reduced membership fees, but can follow the development of standards.

Participating members are called "P" members as opposed to observing members which are called "O" members.

Products named after ISO

The fact that many of the ISO-created standards are ubiquitous has led, on occasion, to common use of "ISO" to describe the actual product that conforms to a standard. Some examples of this are:

*CD images end in the file extension "ISO" to signify that they are using the ISO 9660 standard filesystem as opposed to another file system - hence CD images are commonly referred to as "ISOs". Virtually all computers with CD-ROM drives can read CDs that use this standard. Some DVD-ROMs also use ISO 9660 filesystems.
*Photographic film's sensitivity to light, its "film speed," is described by . Hence, the film's speed is often referred to as its "ISO number."

ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1anchor|JTC1

To deal with the consequences of substantial overlap in areas of standardization and work related to information technology, ISO and IEC formed a Joint Technical Committee known as the ISO/IEC JTC1. It was the first such joint committee, and to date remains the only one.

IWA document

Like ISO/TS, International Workshop Agreement (IWA) is another armoury of ISO for providing rapid response to requirements for standardization in areas where the technical structures and expertise are not currently in place. The utility harmonizes technical urgency industrial wide.


With the exception of a small number of isolated standards, [cite web
title=Freely Available Standards
] ISO standards are normally not available free of charge, but for a purchase fee, [cite web
title=Shopping FAQs
] which has been seen by some as too expensive for small Open source projects. [cite web
title=Where to get ISO Standards on the Internet free
quote="The lack of free online availability has effectively made ISO standard irrelevant to the (home/hacker section of the) Open Source community"

With respect to hospital work, ISO is often mistakenly considered to be an international healthcare accreditation scheme. It is not.

ISO and IEC has garnered criticism for the handling of the standardization of Office Open XML (ISO/IEC 29500). Martin Bryan, Convenor of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 and WG1, is quoted by saying:

I would recommend my successor that it is perhaps time to pass WG1’s outstanding standards over to OASIS, where they can get approval in less than a year and then do a PAS submission to ISO, which will get a lot more attention and be approved much faster than standards currently can be within WG1.
The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting 'standardization by corporation'. [cite web
title=Report on WG1 activity for December 2007 Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34/WG1 in Kyoto
date=November 29,07

Computer security entrepreneur and Ubuntu investor, Mark Shuttleworth, commented on the Standardization of Office Open XML process by saying

I think it de-values the confidence people have in the standards setting process,

and that ISO did not carry out its responsibility. He also noted that Microsoft had intensely lobbied many countries that traditionally had not participated in ISO and stacked technical committees with Microsoft employees, solution providers and resellers sympathetic to Office Open XML.

When you have a process built on trust and when that trust is abused, ISO should halt the process ... ISO is an engineering old boys club and these things are boring so you have to have a lot of passion … then suddenly you have an investment of a lot of money and lobbying and you get artificial results ... The process is not set up to deal with intensive corporate lobbying and so you end up with something being a standard that’s not clear. [cite web
title=Ubuntu’s Shuttleworth blames ISO for OOXML’s win
date=April 01,08

ee also

*American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
*Deutsches Institut für Normung, German Institute for Standardization (DIN)
*British Standards
*Countries in International Organization for Standardization
*Canadian Standards Association
*European Committee for Standardization (CEN)
*Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) set of standards (GOST)
*International Classification for Standards
*International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and ISO/IEC standards.
*International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
*ISO country code
*List of ISO standards
*Standards organization
*Terminology planning policy
*Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS)
*International healthcare accreditation


External links

* [ ISO's official website] (free access to the catalogue of standards only, not to the contents)
* [ Publicly Available Standards] (free access to a small subset of the standards)
* [ The ISO Standards Glossary]
* [ ISO Advanced search for standards and/or projects] (search engine by/on ISO)

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