The ISO Concept Database (ISO CDB) is now publicly available: http://cdb.iso.org, click “log in as guest” (for the time being). In the CDB you can search for terms and definitions in a large number of (most?) ISO Standards. Under “Codes” you can also search for language identifiers from ISO 639, parts 1, 2, 3, and 5.

It took ISO (and a handful of external database experts) years to conceptualize, plan and implement a database that will include not only terms from all its standards, but also graphic representations, codes, etc.

 

All the careful planning was done for a good reason: The ISO Concept Database (or short CDB for the initiated :-)) is a major step towards a revolution in the standardization business. Despite the deveopments in the information and communication sector, standards continue to be produced en mass – and more or less in the same old-fashioned analogous way as they have been ever since the foundation of ISO. With an ever increasing number of Technical Committees and domains that require standardization and the diversification of experts who work on these standards this means primarily one thing: reduplication and overlapping of efforts, and what’s worst – contradicting standards due to a lack of harmonization, collaboration and information about what already exists and may even have been standardized by some other committee years ago.

 

This is an in-efficiency that nobody can afford – and that ISO is going to tackle by introducing  “Standards as databases”. Unlike the traditional, paper- (or at least file-)based standards, the future will coordinate the complex universe of international standards development by introducing a work method and environment that is more up-to-date with the possibilities that are offered by the technical development. However, to develop this for an organization like ISO, that has such a huge number of standards, documents and others to handle, a workforce of largely volunteering experts from companies, institutes and organizations worldwide who do the actual standard development PLUS all the legal implications that brings along means that it is no easy task. But once completed it will be a revolution that will affect us all, because it will make standards easier to be implemented and more streamlined. Another quantum leap towards a globalized world in which really all small components can work together. Or maybe I am a bit over-enthusiastic here. However, I hope you follow me about the immense potential this brings along.

But coming back to ISO CDB: This database is just one piece in the larger picture, but a very important one. Somebody once wrote somewhere: “you can not standardize if you do not all talk about the same and have the same understanding about the issue at hand”, if not first of all the meaning is agreed upon by all stakeholders. And this narrows it down again to terminology – our favourite subject.

ISO/CDB is now public and online. Everybody can log-in as a guest and test it on its Website http://cdb.iso.org, search for terms and definitions of nearly all ISO standards published. Of course, as with all innovations, there will be things that need improvement. But the most important step has been done. It is finally there.

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