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Standardization or standardisation (sometimes abbreviated s13n), in the context related to technologies and industries, is the process of establishing a technical standard among competing entities in a market, where this will bring benefits without hurting competition. It can also be viewed as a mechanism for optimising economic use of scarce resources such as forests, which are threatened by paper manufacture. As an example, all of Europe now uses 230 volt 50 Hz AC mains grids and GSM cell phones, and (at least officially) measures lengths in metres.

In the context of social criticism and social sciences, standardization often means the process of establishing standards of various kinds, and improving efficiency to handle people, their interactions, cases, and so forth. Examples include formalization of judicial procedure in court, and establishing uniform criteria for diagnosing mental disease. Standardization in this sense is often discussed along with (or synonymously to) such large-scale social changes as modernization, bureaucratization, homogenization, and centralization of society.

In the context of business information exchanges, standardization refers to the process of developing data exchange standards for specific business processes using specific syntaxes. These standards are usually developed in voluntary consensus standards bodies such as the United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT)and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

Standards can be de facto, which means they are followed for convenience, or de jure, which means they are used because of (more or less) legally binding contracts and documents. Government agencies often have to follow standards issued by official standardization organizations. Following such standards can also be a prerequisite for doing business on certain markets, with certain companies, or within certain consortia.

A standard can be open or not (proprietary).

There are many worldwide standards and drafts (for example, for the standardization of powercords) developed and maintained by the ISO, the IEC, and the ITU.

Many specifications that govern the operation and interaction of devices and software on the Internet are de facto standards. To preserve the word "standard" as the domain of relatively disinterested bodies such as ISO, the W3C, for example, publishes "Recommendations", and the IETF publishes "Requests for Comments" (RFCs). These publications are often informally referred to as being standards.

In a military context, standardization is defined as: The development and implementation of concepts, doctrines, procedures and designs to achieve and maintain the required levels of compatibility, interchangeability or commonality in the operational, procedural, materiel, technical and administrative fields to attain interoperability.

Note: the three levels of standardization in ascending order are: compatibility, interchangeability and commonality.

See also

In statistics, standardization refers to conversion to standard scores.

Last updated: 06-02-2005 04:07:05
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