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 Friday, October 05, 2007

World Standards Day is celebrated each year on 14 October to pay tribute to the efforts of thousands of experts worldwide who collaborate within IEC, ISO and ITU to develop voluntary International Standards that facilitate trade, spread knowledge and disseminate technological advances.

International Standards help citizens to exercise their rights and to meet their obligations within the Global Village. This link between standards and global citizenship is the theme of this year's World Standards Day message, “Standards and the citizen: Contributing to society”. The message is signed by the leaders of the three principal international standardization organizations: Mr. Renzo Tani, President of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Mr. Håkan Murby, President of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Dr. Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The three leaders point out that standards solve problems in all spheres of activity and give the following examples: “A world without standards would soon grind to a halt. Transport and trade would seize up. The Internet would simply not function. Hundreds of thousands of systems dependent on information and communication technologies would falter or fail — from government and banking to healthcare and air traffic control, emergency services, disaster relief and even international diplomacy.”

International Standards are ubiquitous in the modern world, making many everyday tasks easier and safer. The heads of the three standardization organizations point out that even the simple act of reading the World Standards Day message on a computer screen depends on hundreds of standards that allow the computer to function, provide access to Internet, or simplify the printing and distribution of hard copies through standardized paper sizes.

The leaders of IEC, ISO and ITU underline how much standards underpin our daily lives: "Without standards, consider how difficult — or even dangerous — it would be to carry out ordinary, daily tasks. Safety standards for machinery protect us at work and at play. At home, standards keep electrical appliances connected to the national grid and keep our refrigerators and air conditioners compliant with environmental safeguards to prevent global warming. Our audio systems, television sets and DVD players, mobile phones and WiFi all comply with standards to make them compatible with other systems. From mobile videos and music to online education, telemedicine, e-banking and satellite navigation systems for our cars and aircraft — where would we be without standards in an increasingly networked world?"

Through their work in developing standards, IEC, ISO and ITU help to open up markets, promote environmental protection, safety, security, health and access to information, and to break down barriers between rich and poor nations. Their standards also foster technological innovation, healthy commerce and fair prices.

The leaders of the three organizations conclude their message, "As we move into the future, the work of IEC, ISO and ITU will continue to facilitate the development and diffusion of new technologies that will drive the world economy, contributing to the well being of all of the world’s inhabitants."