International Standardization Organization ISO

The International Organization for Standardization (known as ISO, after the Greek word 'isos' meaning 'equal') was founded in 1947 to 'facilitate the international coordination and unification of industrial standards'.13 ISO is a network of national standards bodies from 158 countries (comprising 103 member bodies, 46 correspondent members, and 9 subscriber members). Figure 1.5 illustrates the current membership of ISO.

Figure 1.5. Members of ISO

Based in Geneva, ISO has almost 200 technical committees (TCs) which are broken down into approximately 500 subcommittees, 2000 working groups, and 60 ad hoc study groups. By the end of 2007, ISO had published over 16,500 international standards and standards-type documents, with 1,250 new standards being published each year. A quarter of ISO's standards are in the engineering technologies sector, with a further quarter covering materials technologies.14

'ISO standards avoid having to reinvent the wheel. They distil knowledge and make it available to all. In this way, they propagate new advances and transfer technology, making them a valuable source of knowledge.'15

ISO publishes standards on topics ranging from company organization, management, and quality to telecommunications, including audio and video engineering; from textile and leather technology to agriculture and food technology; from mining and minerals to construction materials; and finally from railway engineering, shipbuilding, and marine structures to building and civil engineering. These standards can be purchased directly from ISO, through its website www.iso.org.

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