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definition - International_Organization_for_Standardization

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International Organization for Standardization

International Organization for Standardization
Organisation internationale de normalisation
Международная организация по стандартизации [1]

English language logo of the ISO

List of members
Formation 23 February 1947
Type NGO
Purpose/focus International standardization
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
Membership 163 members[2]
Official languages English, French, and Russian[3]
Website www.iso.org

The International Organization for Standardization (French: Organisation internationale de normalisation, Russian: Международная организация по стандартизации, tr. Myezhdunarodnaya organizatsiya po standartizatsii),[1] widely known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. Founded on February 23, 1947, the organization promulgates worldwide proprietary, industrial, and commercial standards. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.[2]


  Name and abbreviation

The three official languages of the ISO are English, French, and Russian.[3] The organization's logos in two of its official languages, English and French, include the word ISO, and it is usually referred to by this short-form name. The organization says that ISO is not an acronym or initialism for the organization's full name in either official language; rather, recognizing that its initials would be different in different languages, it adopted ISO, based on the Greek word isos (ἴσος, meaning equal), as the universal short form of its name.[4] However, one of the founding delegates, Willy Kuert, recollected the original naming question with the comment: "I recently read that the name ISO was chosen because 'iso' is a Greek term meaning 'equal'. There was no mention of that in London!"[5]


  Memory plaque of founding ISA in Prague

The organization today known as ISO began in 1926 as the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA).[6] This organization focused heavily on mechanical engineering. It was disbanded in 1942 during the Second World War but was re-organized under the current name, ISO, in 1946.[citation needed]

ISO is a voluntary organization whose members are recognized authorities on standards, each one representing one country. The bulk of the work of ISO is done by the 2700 technical committees, subcommittees, and working groups. Each committee and subcommittee is headed by a Secretariat from one of the member organizations.[citation needed]


ISO is funded by a combination of:[7][8]

  • Organizations that manage the specific projects or loan experts to participate in the technical work.
  • Subscriptions from member bodies ("the national body most representative of standardization in its country"[9]). These subscriptions are in proportion to each country's gross national product and trade figures.
  • Sale of standards.

  International Standards and other publications

ISO's main products are international standards. ISO also publishes technical reports, technical specifications, publicly available specifications, technical corrigenda, and guides.[10][11]

International standards are designated with the format ISO[/IEC] [/ASTM] [IS] nnnnn[-p]:[yyyy] Title, where nnnnn is the number of the standard, p is an optional part number, 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 (American Society for Testing and Materials) 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 normally published as an International Standard.[10] such as references and explanations. The naming conventions for these are the same as for standards, except TR prepended instead of 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".[10] 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 technical corrigenda. Corrigenda (plural of corrigendum) are amendments to existing standards because of minor technical flaws, usability improvements, or limited applicability extensions. Generally, these are issued with the expectation that the affected standard will be updated or withdrawn at its next scheduled review.[10]

ISO Guides are meta-standards covering "matters related to international standardization".[10] 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

  Standardization process

A standard published by ISO/IEC is the last stage of a long process that commonly starts with the proposal of new work within a committee. Here are some abbreviations used for marking a standard with its status:[12][13][14][15][16][17][18]

  • PWI - Preliminary Work Item
  • NP or NWIP - New Proposal / New Work Item Proposal (e.g., ISO/IEC NP 23007)
  • AWI - Approved new Work Item (e.g., ISO/IEC AWI 15444-14)
  • WD - Working Draft (e.g., ISO/IEC WD 27032)
  • CD - Committee Draft (e.g., ISO/IEC CD 23000-5)
  • FCD - Final Committee Draft (e.g., ISO/IEC FCD 23000-12)
  • DIS - Draft International Standard (e.g., ISO/IEC DIS 14297)
  • FDIS - Final Draft International Standard (e.g., ISO/IEC FDIS 27003)
  • PRF - Proof of a new International Standard (e.g., ISO/IEC PRF 18018)
  • IS - International Standard (e.g., ISO/IEC 13818-1:2007)

Abbreviations used for amendments:[12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

  • NP Amd - New Proposal Amendment (e.g., ISO/IEC 15444-2:2004/NP Amd 3)
  • AWI Amd - Approved new Work Item Amendment (e.g., ISO/IEC 14492:2001/AWI Amd 4)
  • WD Amd - Working Draft Amendment (e.g., ISO 11092:1993/WD Amd 1)
  • CD Amd / PDAmd - Committee Draft Amendment / Proposed Draft Amendment (e.g., ISO/IEC 13818-1:2007/CD Amd 6)
  • FPDAmd / DAM (DAmd) - Final Proposed Draft Amendment / Draft Amendment (e.g., ISO/IEC 14496-14:2003/FPDAmd 1)
  • FDAM (FDAmd) - Final Draft Amendment (e.g., ISO/IEC 13818-1:2007/FDAmd 4)
  • PRF Amd - (e.g., ISO 12639:2004/PRF Amd 1)
  • Amd - Amendment (e.g., ISO/IEC 13818-1:2007/Amd 1:2007)

Other abbreviations:[16][17][19][20]

  • TR - Technical Report (e.g., ISO/IEC TR 19791:2006)
  • DTR - Draft Technical Report (e.g., ISO/IEC DTR 19791)
  • TS - Technical Specification (e.g., ISO/TS 16949:2009)
  • DTS - Draft Technical Specification (e.g., ISO/DTS 11602-1)
  • PAS - Publicly Available Specification
  • TTA - Technology Trends Assessment (e.g., ISO/TTA 1:1994)
  • IWA - International Workshop Agreement (e.g., IWA 1:2005)
  • Cor - Technical Corrigendum (e.g., ISO/IEC 13818-1:2007/Cor 1:2008)
  • Guide - a guidance to technical committees for the preparation of standards

International Standards are developed by ISO technical committees (TC) and subcommittees (SC) by a process with six steps:[14][21]

  • Stage 1: Proposal stage
  • Stage 2: Preparatory stage
  • Stage 3: Committee stage
  • Stage 4: Enquiry stage
  • Stage 5: Approval stage
  • Stage 6: Publication stage

The TC/SC may set up working groups (WG) of experts for the preparation of a Working Drafts. Subcommittees may have several working groups, which can have several Sub Groups (SG).[22]

Stages in the development process of an ISO standard[13][14][15][18][19][21]
Stage code Stage Associated document name Abbreviations Description
00 Preliminary stage Preliminary work item PWI
10 Proposal stage New work item proposal NP or NWIP, NP Amd/TR/TS/IWA
20 Preparatory stage Working draft(s) AWI, AWI Amd/TR/TS, WD, WD Amd/TR/TS
30 Committee stage Committee draft(s) CD, CD Amd/Cor/TR/TS, PDAmd (PDAM), PDTR, PDTS
40 Enquiry stage Enquiry draft DIS, FCD, FPDAmd, DAmd (DAM), FPDISP, DTR, DTS (CDV in IEC)
50 Approval stage Final draft International Standard FDIS, FDAmd (FDAM), PRF, PRF Amd/TTA/TR/TS/Suppl, FDTR
60 Publication stage International Standard ISO TR, TS, IWA, Amd, Cor
90 Review stage ISO TR, TS, IWA, Amd, Cor
95 Withdrawal stage

It is possible to omit certain stages, if there is a document with a certain degree of maturity at the start of a standardization project, for example a standard developed by another organization. ISO/IEC Directives allow also the so-called "Fast-track procedure". In this procedure a document is submitted directly for approval as a draft International Standard (DIS) to the ISO member bodies or as a final draft International Standard (FDIS) if the document was developed by an international standardizing body recognized by the ISO Council.[14]

The first step—a proposal of work (New Proposal) is approved at the relevant subcommittee or technical committee (e.g., SC29 and JTC1 respectively in the case of Moving Picture Experts Group - ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11). A working group (WG) of experts is set up by the TC/SC for the preparation of a Working Draft. When the scope of a new work is sufficiently clarified, some of the working groups (e.g., MPEG) usually make open request for proposals—known as "Call for proposals". The first document that is produced for example for audio and video coding standards is called a Verification Model (VM) (previously also called a Simulation and Test Model). When a sufficient confidence in the stability of the standard under development is reached, a Working Draft (WD) is produced. This is in the form of a standard but is kept internal to working group for revision. When a Working Draft is sufficiently solid and the working group is satisfied that it has developed the best technical solution to the problem being addressed, it becomes Committee Draft (CD). If it is required, it is then sent to the P-members of the TC/SC (National Bodies) for ballot.

The CD becomes Final Committee Draft (FCD) if the number of positive votes is above the quorum. Successive committee drafts may be considered until consensus is reached on the technical content. When it is reached, the text is finalized for submission as a draft International Standard (DIS). The text is then submitted to National Bodies for voting and comment within a period of five months. It is approved for submission as a final draft International Standard (FDIS) if a two-thirds majority of the P-members of the TC/SC are in favour and not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative. ISO will then hold a ballot with National Bodies where no technical changes are allowed (yes/no ballot), within a period of two months. It is approved as an International Standard (IS) if a two-thirds majority of the P-members of the TC/SC is in favour and not more than one-quarter of the total number of votes cast are negative. After approval, only minor editorial changes are introduced into the final text. The final text is sent to the ISO Central Secretariat, which publishes it as the International Standard.[12][14]

  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.[23][24]


  A map of standards bodies who are ISO members
  correspondent members
  subscriber members
  other places with an ISO 3166-1 code who aren't members of ISO

ISO has 162 national members,[2] out of the 205 total countries in the world.

ISO has three membership categories:

  • Member bodies are national bodies considered 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, who 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:

  • Many CD images end in the file extension "ISO" to signify that they are using the ISO 9660 standard file system 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 file systems.
  • Photographic film's sensitivity to light, its "film speed", is described by ISO 6, ISO 2240 and ISO 5800. Hence, the film's speed is often referred to as its "ISO number".
  • Often, the flash hot shoe found on cameras is called "ISO shoe", as it was originally defined in ISO 518.

  ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1

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. The second joint committee was created in 2009 - Joint Project Committee - Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources - Common terminology (ISO/IEC/JTC 2).[25]


With the exception of a small number of isolated standards,[26] ISO standards are normally not available free of charge, but for a purchase fee,[27] which has been seen by some as too expensive for small open source projects.[28]

The ISO/IEC JTC1 fast-track procedures ("Fast-track" as used by OOXML and "PAS" as used by OpenDocument) have garnered criticism in relation to the standardization of Office Open XML (ISO/IEC 29500). Martin Bryan, outgoing Convenor of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1, is quoted as 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'.[29]

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 Shuttleworth alleged 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 is not clear.[30]

  See also

  Notes and references

  1. ^ a b The 3 official full names of ISO can be found at the beginning of the foreword sections of the PDF document: ISO/IEC Guide 2:2004 Standardization and related activities — General vocabulary
  2. ^ a b c "About ISO". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/about.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  3. ^ a b "How to use the ISO Catalogue". ISO.org. http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_catalogue/how_to_use_the_catalogue.htm. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  4. ^ "ISO - Discover ISO: ISO's name". ISO. 2010. http://www.iso.org/iso/about/discover-iso_isos-name.htm. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  5. ^ Willy Kuert (1997). "The Founding of ISO (excerpt of Friendship Among Equals)". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/founding.pdf. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  6. ^ "The ISO Story - founding". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/about/the_iso_story/iso_story_founding.htm. Retrieved 2011-07-22. 
  7. ^ "General information on ISO". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/support/faqs/faqs_general_information_on_iso.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  8. ^ "ISO in figures for the year 2010 (at 31 December)". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/about/iso_in_figures.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  9. ^ "Member bodies". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/about/iso_members/member_bodies.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  10. ^ a b c d e The ISO directives are published in two distinct parts:
    * "ISO Directives, Part 2: Rules for the structure and drafting of International Standards. 5th Edition" (pdf). ISO/IEC. 2004. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070710135001/http://www.iec.ch/tiss/iec/Directives-Part1-Ed5.pdf. Retrieved 7 September 2007. 
  11. ^ ISO. "ISO/IEC Directives and ISO supplement". http://www.iso.org/directives. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c "About MPEG". chiariglione.org. http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/about_mpeg.htm. Retrieved 13 December 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c ISO. "International harmonized stage codes". http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/processes_and_procedures/stages_description/stages_table.htm#s90. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f ISO. "Stages of the development of International Standards". http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/processes_and_procedures/stages_description.htm. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c "The ISO27k FAQ - ISO/IEC acronyms and committees". IsecT Ltd.. http://www.iso27001security.com/html/faq.html#Acronyms. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c ISO (2007). "ISO/IEC Directives Supplement — Procedures specific to ISO" (PDF). http://www.astm.org/COMMIT/1st_Supplement.pdf. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  17. ^ a b c ISO (2007). "List of abbreviations used throughout ISO Online". http://www.iso.org/iso/support/faqs/faqs_list_abbreviations.htm. Retrieved 31 December 2009. 
  18. ^ a b c "US TAG COMMITTEE HANDBOOK" (DOC). 2008-03. http://www.sae.org/exdomains/standardsdev/global_resources/US%20TAG%20Committe%20Handbook%206March2008.doc. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c ISO/IEC JTC1 (2 November 2009), Letter Ballot on the JTC 1 Standing Document on Technical Specifications and Technical Reports, http://isotc.iso.org/livelink/livelink/JTC001-N-9876.pdf?func=doc.Fetch&nodeId=8498789&docTitle=JTC001-N-9876, retrieved 1 January 2010 
  20. ^ ISO. "ISO deliverables". http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/processes_and_procedures/deliverables.htm. Retrieved 9 April 2010. 
  21. ^ a b ISO (2008) (PDF), ISO/IEC Directives, Part 1 - Procedures for the technical work, Sixth edition, 2008, http://www.iec.ch/tiss/iec/Directives-Part1-Ed6.pdf, retrieved 1 January 2010 
  22. ^ ISO, IEC (5 November 2009). "ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29, SC 29/WG 11 Structure (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 - Coding of Moving Pictures and Audio)". http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/29w12911.htm. Retrieved 7 November 2009. 
  23. ^ "Freely Available Standards". ISO. Last updated 2011-02-01. http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/index.html. Retrieved 2012-06-09. 
  24. ^ "Free ANSI Standards". Archived from the original on 3 April 2007. http://web.archive.org/web/20070403014457/http://webstore.ansi.org/ansidocstore/free_standards.asp. Retrieved 19 June 2007. 
  25. ^ "ISO/IEC/JTC 2 - Joint Project Committee - Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources - Common terminology". http://www.iso.org/iso/standards_development/technical_committees/list_of_iso_technical_committees/iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=585141. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  26. ^ "Freely Available Standards". ISO. http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/index.html. Retrieved 26 April 2008. 
  27. ^ "Shopping FAQs". ISO. http://www.iso.org/iso/store/shopping_faqs.htm. Retrieved 26 April 2008. 
  28. ^ Jelliffe, Rick (1 August 2007). "Where to get ISO Standards on the Internet free". oreillynet.com. http://www.oreillynet.com/xml/blog/2007/08/where_to_get_iso_standards_on.html. Retrieved 26 April 2008. "The lack of free online availability has effectively made ISO standard irrelevant to the (home/hacker section of the) Open Source community" 
  29. ^ "Report on WG1 activity for December 2007 Meeting of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34/WG1 in Kyoto". iso/jtc1 sc34. 29 November 2007. http://www.jtc1sc34.org/repository/0940.htm. 
  30. ^ "Ubuntu’s Shuttleworth blames ISO for OOXML’s win". ZDNet.com. 1 April 2008. http://blogs.zdnet.com/open-source/?p=2222. 

  Further reading

  External links



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