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ANSI Celebrates ISO/IEC JTC 1's 25 Years of Success in a Rapidly Changing ICT Industry


There is no sphere of life today that is not impacted by information and communication technology (ICT). ICT increasingly fuels innovation, efficiency, and economic growth, both in the ICT-producing and ICT-using sectors - in other words, the whole interconnected world.

From a standards perspective, this means that any document developed needs to at once respond to and anticipate the needs of a multitude of different industries and applications operating on a global scale. The effectiveness and growth of the industry are dependent upon the ability of the many component parts and systems to interoperate, work reliably and efficiently, and meet diverse needs.

ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee (ISO/IEC JTC) 1 on Information Technology has addressed the standardization needs of the ICT industry around the world for more than two decades. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is the place where the basic building blocks of new technologies are defined and the foundations of ICT infrastructures are laid. As the committee's secretariat, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is proud to mark the 25th anniversary of ISO/IEC JTC 1, and share some history and highlights of a remarkable record of accomplishment in moving ICT standardization forward.

We've come a long way, baby
ISO started work on IT standardization around 1960, as computers began to utilize transistors and include most of the basic components we still see today. As the industry took off with rapid innovation and widespread acceptance, both ISO and IEC worked to keep pace with the development of responsive standards. By the 1980s, computers were ubiquitous in government, business, and industry, and on their way to common use throughout society.

Some of the earliest ICT standards were developed by what was then ISO Technical Committee (TC) 97, Information Technology, along with International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) TCs 47B and 83. Notable among the early publications are ISO 2132:1972, Offset duplicators -- Attachment features of plates; ISO 2257:1980, Office machines and printing machines used for information processing -- Widths of fabric printing ribbons on spools; and ISO 1538:1984, Programming languages -- ALGOL 60.

Joining forces
As the technological innovations became more complex and far-reaching, the international standardization community recognized that a comprehensive venue in which to address all aspects of ICT standardization was needed. So in 1987, ISO/IEC JTC 1 was formed by the merger of ISO TC 97 and IEC TCs 47B and 83. Bringing together the qualities and strengths of both ISO and IEC, ISO/IEC JTC 1 was positioned to speed progress and wide deployment and avoid the development of duplicative or possibly incompatible standards by the two organizations.

In its first 15 years, ISO/IEC JTC 1 brought about a large number of successful ICT standards in the fields of multimedia, MPEG, security, programming languages, and character sets, to name a few. Then in the 2000s, development really took off in new and expanding areas such as security and authentication, bandwidth/connection management, storage and data management, software and systems engineering, portable computing devices, and societal aspects (such as data protection and cultural and linguistic adaptability).

A changing landscape
Today, ISO/IEC JTC 1 is one of the largest and most prolific technical committees in the international standardization community. With over 2,500 published standards under the broad umbrella of the committee and its 19 subcommittees, ISO/IEC JTC 1 makes a tremendous impact on the ICT industry worldwide.

The United States is proud to play a leadership role in the work of ISO/IEC JTC 1, with ANSI, the U.S. member body to ISO, serving as secretariat. Tremendous progress has been made under the guidance of Karen Higginbottom of HP, now serving her second term as the committee's chair, and ANSI's Lisa Rajchel, who serves as secretary. But dozens of other nations work alongside us: ISO/IEC JTC 1 counts 37 countries among its participants (plus another 54 as observers) and over 2,000 experts from around the world represent their national body positions in collaboration to develop the most effective and relevant ICT standards. It is the efforts of these dedicated professionals that drive JTC 1's record of accomplishment.

The ICT industry has seen tremendous change in recent years on nearly every level:

  • Governments worldwide have changed their views on the purposes of ICT standardization and the role of ICT standards in procurement;
  • Customers have new methods of systems development and specification;
  • Compressed product life cycles have altered market conditions;
  • Technologies continually evolve, converge, and become increasingly complex; and
  • Customers want integrated, interoperable solutions.
To reflect these changes, ISO/IEC JTC 1 takes a proactive, forward-thinking approach to new work areas; establishes alliances to improve cross-sectorial cooperation; and focuses the technical orientation of work on three domains - core technologies, system integration, and areas of societal concern.

This approach has enabled ISO/IEC JTC 1 to make great progress in developing standards that cross a broad swath of technology sectors, particularly in rapidly expanding areas such as cloud computing, security, sustainability, and accessibility. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is currently addressing such critical areas as teleconferences and e-meetings, cloud data management interface, biometrics in identity management, sensor networks for smart grid systems, and corporate governance of IT implementation. As technologies continue to converge, ISO/IEC JTC 1 has positioned itself as a system integrator, especially in areas of standardization where many consortia and fora are active.

In 2011 ISO/IEC JTC 1 and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced approval of a package of W3C Web Services technologies as ISO/IEC International Standards. W3C is one of nine organizations currently approved as ISO/IEC JTC 1 Publicly Available Specification (PAS) Submitters, allowing them to send specifications directly to ISO/IEC JTC 1 for national body voting to become International Standards. This collaborative process strengthens harmonization, and has led to more than 20 submitted PAS being approved as ISO/IEC standards last year.

The future looks bright
There is no doubt that the ICT industry will continue its meteoric growth. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is committed to keeping pace, and has identified a large number of focus areas for future work, including social networking and web collaboration, augmented reality, e-learning, 3D image technology, virtualization, social analytics, and wireless power transfer.

The ongoing challenges and opportunities surrounding such critical areas as energy efficiency, sustainability, security, and cloud computing ensure that ISO/IEC JTC 1 will have many more years of prolific activity. ISO/IEC JTC 1 is committed to developing relevant ICT standards that respond to the needs of the industry, and make the world a better place for us all.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]