International Standards are needed so that products and systems developed in different parts of the world are interoperable and compatible with each other. The standards aim to ease out the technical differences and also to ensure product safety.
The most prominent organization that lays down international standards is the ISO (International Standards Organization). Two other major organizations for technical standards are NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).
ISO is an independent, voluntary, non-treaty, non-government standards organization. It issues standards of a vast number of subjects that may be proprietary, industrial or commercial in nature. Its members are national standards organizations of member countries. Some of its prominent members are BSI (British Standards Institution), ANSI (American National Standards Institute), AFNOR (Association Française de Normalisation), etc.
ISO has over 200 Technical Committees (TC), each of which defines the standards for a particular subject. Each TC has sub-committees (SC) which in turn has working groups (WG).
NIST is a metrology laboratory of the US Department of Commerce. It issues standards and organizes laboratory programs in the fields of nanoscience and technology, engineering, IT, material measurement, physical measurement and neutron research. It provides Standard Reference Materials to industry, academia, government and many other users. NIST publishes Handbook 44 each year.
IEEE is a professional association that aims for educational and technical advancement in the fields of electrical engineering, electronics engineering, computer engineering, telecommunications and other related disciplines. It has a standardization organization IEEE-SA (IEEE Standards Association) that develops standards in the technical fields. One of its most notable standards is the IEEE 802 group that is widely used for computer networking.