Overview of ISO

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization*.
It was set up in 1947 and is located in Geneva, Switzerland.
Its purpose is to facilitate and support national and international
trade and commerce by developing standards that people
everywhere would recognize and respect. ISO achieves this
purpose through the participation and support of its members.
These members come from 164 national standards bodies.

ISO standards are developed by many technical committees.
The people who serve on these technical committees come
from many national standards organizations. Consequently,
ISO standards tend to have worldwide support.

Currently, ISO has 250 technical committees, 510 subcommittees,
and 2478 working groups. Since 1947, ISO's technical experts
have developed over 18,600 standards in every conceivable
business and technical sector including energy, manufacturing,
engineering, agriculture, construction, computing, metrology,
healthcare, transportation, distribution, and communications.

ISO standards help to ensure that products, services, systems,
and technologies work properly and are safe and effective. And
to help ensure that organizations actually apply these standards,
ISO's technical experts have also developed several conformity
assessment guides. These guides help organizations to verify that
supplies, materials, products, processes, services, systems, tools,
equipment, and personnel actually comply with ISO's standards.

In short, ISO helps make things safer, simpler, and better.
It helps all of us to be more productive and prosperous.
For this, ISO deserves our admiration and support.

*The International Organization for Standardization chose the acronym ISO
(and not IOS) because the word ISO also means “equal” or “equivalent” in
Greek, and because
ISO works better when translated into other languages.

Check out our extensive Plain English ISO Standards Library!

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Updated on November 30, 2013. First published on January 10, 2001.

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