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ISO Workshop Meeting Explores Standardization for International Emergency Preparedness

Florence, Italy, May 01, 2006

More than seventy emergency management and business continuity professionals from sixteen countries around the world gathered April 24-26 in Florence, Italy, for an ISO International Workshop Agreement (IWA) meeting on Emergency Preparedness. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)— serving as the lead national body of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) for the workshop with support from New York University’s International Center for Enterprise Preparedness (InterCEP)— organized this event to respond to the standards community’s call for an international deliverable in the area of emergency preparedness.

The importance of emergency preparedness, and its international scope, has been emphasized by recent events of terrorism and natural disasters throughout the world. Although there are existing national standards from various countries that address this issue, there is no agreed upon international standard that can be used by the global community.

The purpose of this meeting, called for by the ISO Strategic Advisory Group on Security, was to produce an International Workshop Agreement that could be published by ISO as an immediate deliverable in the area of emergency preparedness. The meeting also aimed to explore recommendations for ISO to further standards work in this subject area.

After two-and-a-half days of discussing five prominent national standards from around the world and debating the main points of emergency preparedness/emergency management and business continuity, the workshop was able to reach consensus on a number of key elements that will be detailed in the published IWA.

"We were very pleased that the workshop was able to identify the key common elements of emergency management and business continuity, while at the same time noting that these are distinct disciplines. We were further pleased to highlight several important national standards that could form the basis of an international family of standards,” explained William Raisch, workshop chairman and executive director of NYU InterCEP.

Added Alice Sturgeon, workshop moderator and senior director at the Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada, “We believe that the published ISO IWA will be a valuable reference tool for the international community working in the emergency preparedness field.”

One of the workshop recommendations was that further standards work in this subject area should occur in the newly activated ISO/TC 223, Societal Security. “In addition to the value of the IWA publication, we were pleased that participants agreed that further standards work should be conducted by TC 223,” said Matt Deane, workshop secretary and ANSI director of homeland security standards. “We are confident that TC 223 will produce significant standardization deliverables in this very important area.”

Efforts are underway to finalize the IWA publication as soon as possible. The kick-off meeting of ISO/TC 223 will occur May 10-12, 2006, in Stockholm, Sweden.

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