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How is ISO different from NIST


ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) are two prominent organizations involved in setting technical standards. Although they share similarities, there are significant differences between the two. This article will delve into the distinctions to provide a better understanding of their roles in standardization.

ISO: Global Standardization

ISO, an independent non-governmental organization, works on developing international standards across various industries. It brings together experts from different countries to establish consensus-based guidelines that promote compatibility, quality, and safety worldwide. ISO's standards cover numerous fields, including technology, manufacturing, services, and environmental sustainability.

NIST: US Focus with a Wide Scope

NIST is a federal agency under the United States Department of Commerce. Its primary mission is to promote American innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. While NIST does work heavily within the US, it also collaborates internationally and is known for its expertise in various research areas, such as cybersecurity, engineering, and metrology.

Differences in Scope and Coverage

One major difference between ISO and NIST lies in their scope and coverage. ISO develops standards that are recognized globally and aims to facilitate international trade and cooperation. On the other hand, NIST focuses more on national standards for the United States, although its influence extends beyond the country's borders due to its reputation for excellence.

Moreover, ISO covers a broader range of industries and sectors compared to NIST. Its standards address areas such as energy management systems, information security, quality management, and social responsibility. NIST, while diverse in its research areas, concentrates on specific technological domains like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.

Approach to Standards Development

Another notable difference is their approach to standards development. ISO follows a decentralized model where national standardization bodies represent their respective countries' interests. These bodies actively participate in the creation and revision of ISO standards, ensuring that different viewpoints are considered.

NIST, on the other hand, operates through its internal laboratories and research programs. It collaborates with industry, academia, and other government agencies to develop consensus-based standards and guidelines. NIST's standards often incorporate cutting-edge research and technological advancements.


ISO and NIST play vital roles in the establishment of technical standards globally and nationally, respectively. Despite their shared objective of promoting safety and quality, they differ in scope, coverage, and approaches to standardization. Understanding these differences helps stakeholders in various sectors recognize the appropriate standards and guidelines relevant to their needs and be compliant with the ever-evolving landscape of technology and innovation.

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