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Standards Resources: Non-U.S. Standards

A guide to Standards, their value, and how to locate them.

Non-U.S. National Standards

The British Standards Institution (BSI)

Founded in 1901 as the world’s first national standards body, and holder of a Royal Charter since 1929, the British Standards Institution is the UK national standards organization, and promotes itself as "your business improvement partner". They see their role as being the group that helps "improve the quality and safety of products, services and systems by enabling the creation of standards and encouraging their use."  They work to promote best practices via training, information and performance tools to help British citizens, companies and organizations comply with regulations and overcome challenges. They have a very good page for explaining in plain language what a standard is and how standards can help a business. They represents UK interests at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the European Standards Organizations (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI).  

Launched in 2017, the Electrotechnical Standardization Strategic Advisory Council (ESSAC)  provides the British Standards Institution with "high-level strategic policy advice and guidance in the UK electrotechnical and electronics industries." They look at areas of emerging technology in the electrotechnical sector, and also identify possible standardization links with the non-electrotechnical areas. They also keep an eye on the long-term needs for standardization in industry and society.

European Standards Organizations

The standardization system in Europe is based on the National Standardization Bodies. A National Standardization Body is the one stop shop for all stakeholders within that nation, and is the main focal point of access to the consolidated system, comprised of the regional (European) and international standardization bodies. There are three European standards organizations: CEN, CENELEC and ETSI. Each will be described below.

The European Committee for Standardization (CEN​: Comité Européen de Normalisation) 

Founded in 1961, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) is the organization responsible for harmonizing the standards of 34 individual European countries in order to create a single set of standards for the European Union, so that the internal market of the EU is brought together, and the products of the European market can be sold more effectively both within the EU and around the world. Once the standards and specifications of CEN are produced, it is the responsibility of the CEN National Members to implement these European standards as national standards. The National Standardization Bodies are charged with the responsibility to distribute and sell the implemented European standard and withdraw any conflicting national standards. CEN is the body responsible for European standards outside the electrotechnical & electronics and the information & telecommunications sectors.

The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC: Comité Européen de Normalisation Electrotechnique)

Founded in 1973, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) is the organization responsible for harmonizing the standards of the 34 individual European countries in the areas of electrotechnology and electronics. While not an EU institution, it does work closely with the European Union and the European Economic Area, and its standards are "EN" (i.e. EU and EEA) standards, as per the EU Regulation 1025/2012. In addition to the 34 members, there are 13 other ‘National Electrotechnical Committees’ that participate in the work of CENELEC as ‘Affiliates’ and/or ‘Companion Standardization Bodies’ (CSBs).

CENELEC and its members are fully committed to cooperate with key organizations to create sound partnerships with those that can contribute to the fulfillment of the scope and mission of CENELEC. For these partnerships, CENELEC considers the complementary roles that they can play at either National and/or European level.

Due to the close collaboration of CEN and CENELEC, a common CEN-CENELEC Management Centre was created in Brussels, Belgium. The CEN and CENELEC also have a combined web site. By providing a foundation for the development of European standards and technical specifications, and working closely with the European Commission to ensure that those standards and specifications correspond with relevant EU legislation, these organizations have helped strengthen the European market, and European sales throughout the world. 

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) produces globally-applicable standards for information and communications technologies, including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and internet technologies. These include the standards that enable key global technologies such as GSMTM, 3G, 4G, 5G, DECTTM, smart cards and many more. 

One of the key motives for the development of ICT standards is facilitating interoperability between products in a multi-vendor, multi-network and multi-service environment -- giving  users a much greater choice of products, and manufacturers the benefit of the economies of scale that a wider market brings. Interoperability is therefore a crucial factor in the success of modern technologies, and market demand has ensured that interoperability holds a prominent position in standardization.

Testing of products and systems to verify their interoperability is critical to their success – ideally this should take place throughout their development. Eliminating basic interoperability problems at an early stage helps reduce costs and to avoid dissatisfied customers. Standards, and a standardized approach to testing, are essential if the results are to be trusted.

NATO Standardization Office

Shortly after the establishment of NATO, it was recognized that the co-ordinated development of policies, procedures and equipment of the member nations held great potential for enhancing the military effectiveness and efficiency of the fledgling Alliance. Originally set up as two offices, the Military Office for Standardization (MAS) and the Office of NATO Standardization were ultimately combined as the NATO Standardization Office (NSO), an independent NATO Office that reports to the Committee for Standardization (CS) for Standardization Policy and Management and to the Military Committee (MC) for corporate oversight and issues relating to operational standardization. The Office's mission of the NSO is to provide Standardization Management for NATO.

Standardization is defined within NATO as the process of developing and implementing concepts, doctrines, procedures and designs to achieve and maintain the compatibility, interchangeability and commonality which are necessary to attain the required level of interoperability, or to optimize the use of resources, in the fields of operations, material and administration. The primary products of this process and NATO's tools for the enhancement of interoperability are NATO standards covered by Standardization Agreements (STANAGs) between the member nations.

The NATO Standardization Document Database is publicly searchable from the NATO NSO public web site. More material is available by logging into the site -- contact the NATO WEB Master for registration.


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