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Standards 101

What is a standard?

A standard is a voluntary baseline of rules, conditions, or requirements that are applied to a product’s definition of terms, component classifications, material specifications, performance, or operations.  A standard can also delineate procedures involved with a product or the measurement of a product’s quantity or quality.  Given that standards are voluntary, products that do not comply with industry or international standards can still be sold.  However, incentives to comply with standards are substantial, as those products that do not meet the baseline levels often are less appealing to global consumers.

INCITS works on “de jure” standards. What is a “de jure” standard?

“De jure” or formal standards are developed by accredited standards organizations like INCITS using rigid procedures that may periodically be audited.  Formal standards development is based on openness and due process.  No one with a direct or material interest is prevented from expressing a viewpoint in the creation of formal standards.  And due process ensures equity and fair play in the development process.

Why are standards important?

Standards help to ensure that products and services provide a baseline quality level for consumers.  Whether in functionality or connectivity, safety or accessibility, standards establish the common core of expectations that a tech product must meet.

What are American National Standards?

American National Standards are essential tools used in everyday life.  Today, there are more than 750 such standards that have been created and approved through the INCITS process, with another 800 in development.  American National Standards are voluntary and serve U.S. interests well because all materially affected stakeholders have the opportunity to work together to create them.  INCITS-approved standards only become mandatory when, and if, they are adopted or referenced by the government or when market forces make them imperative.

What subjects do INCITS cover for American National Standards?

American National Standards provide dimensions, ratings, terminology and symbols, test methods, and performance and safety requirements for personnel, products, systems and services in hundreds of industries.  INCITS focuses on those standards that are part of products in the information and communications technology sector.

If INCITS doesn’t create standards, who does?

INCITS is part of a broad family of standards organizations that reach far beyond the technology sector.  In addition to INCITS, there are more than 220 other ANSI-accredited standards developers. 

Does INCITS work only within the United States?

No.  In the global arena, we serve as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to the international standards-setting organization called JTC1.  Our Executive Board members have direct entry into the international standards arena and participate as voting members of U.S. delegations to global standards meetings and deliberations.

American National Standard Dictionary of Information Technology (ANSDIT)