Why Use Standards in Technology?

Interoperability in communication technology requires standards to be set. Standards are technical specifications that a product or a service must meet to provide consumers with safety, reliability, and performance for their use in the marketplace. The validity of conformity to standards is a critical component to technology’s infrastructure. Many organizations work together to provide these standards for not only the United States but for the world. To name a few there is the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the Partner Standards Development Organization (PSDO), the Information and Communication Technology (ICT), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Standards are vital for interoperability in communications. Standards are technical specifications that a product or a service must meet to provide consumers with safety, reliability, and performance for their use in the marketplace. Without a set standard to follow, the communications networks we are familiar with today would cease to exist because they would be unmanageable. Without a set standard to follow, the communications arena would be like rush hour traffic without traffic lanes, traffic lights, and without any rule of law. Rules for networking traffic follow the IEEE802 standards developed by IEEE-SA to allow manageability and the hypothetical traffic lights, traffic lanes, and rule of law for the Local Area Networks (LAN) and Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN) traffic. The network traffic knows in which lane to travel and which path to take according to the rules. The network traffic follows the rule of law according to the standards set by the IEEE802 standards.

The mission of the IETF is to make the internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet. The IETF is working on over 100 different projects at any given time because the IEFT is an open international community of engineers concerned with the flawless operation of the internet.

The IEEE provides industry standards for interoperability and manageability of technology standards. IEEE is the world’s largest professional association devoted to innovation benefiting humanity (“IEEE”, 2019). IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) working groups set the standards for telecommunications. The IEEE802 standards are used in the Data Layer, Layer 1, and the Physical Layer, Layer 2, of the OSI model. They are further separated into the Logical Link Control, Ethernet or CSMA/CD, Token Bus, Token Ring, and Wireless LAN. The IEEE802 standards are accredited by ANSI meaning the documentation provided by IEEE802 is competent to carry out the specific tasks it claims.

Regulations for standards to be set in place by a regulating body are a serious matter. There needs to be a regulating body to set the regulations of standards for the standards. If there was no regulating body, the integrity of the standards cannot be trusted. The federal government uses both voluntary partnerships with private industry and requirements in federal laws, regulations, and mandatory standards to assist in the security of privately owned information technology (IT) systems and data within critical infrastructure sectors. NIST regulatory compliance is widely adopted. It is endorsed by the government and companies comply with NIST because they encompass security’s best practices. This helps ensure other compliance such as HIPPA, PCI, SOX, and many more are met.

From the nanoscale of technologies to the largest frameworks, NIST serves as a coordinator of regulatory compliance between the public and the private sector. Now part of the US Department of Commerce, NIST is a non-regulatory federal government agency that has been around since 1901, and it is one of the oldest physical science laboratories. NIST claims the contributions provided by it staff has led to advancements in research and technological innovation that foster the drivers of the US economy: invention, improvement, and commercialization. NIST’s conformity assessment certifies the specifications regarding the product or process are competent. The best practices document regulatory compliance, not standards, held by NIST has been developed and maintained for over 50 years. Reference data which is published has met rigorous critical evaluation criteria.