As technologies advance and the world grows more complicated, collaboration and coordination have become increasingly important. Setting standards, sharing information, and bringing experts together are essential to safely developing technologies for national and global priorities, and the world needs organizations to fulfill this role. 

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Society of Automation (ISA) are two such organizations. While separate entities, the ANSI/ISA are closely linked and share many of the same goals.

What is a Standard? 

Standards are core to what the ANSI and ISA do, so it’s essential to understand them before we move forward. A standard is a voluntary document that sets forth requirements that a process, system, product, or material must satisfy to meet that standard. They are voluntary documents, not government regulations, but they may be referenced in regulations. 

Standards aid manufacturing and related organizations in: 

  • Improving human safety
  • Enhancing communications
  • Cutting down design and implementation costs
  • Facilitating component and systems interchangeability
  • Minimizing downtime and maintenance costs
  • Reducing the need for large inventories
  • Protecting the natural environment

What is the American National Standards Institute?

The ANSI was founded in 1918 to administer and coordinate the US voluntary standards and conformity assessment system, which facilitates commerce and forms the basis of a sound national economy. 

As a private, non-profit organization, ANSI collaborates with stakeholders from government and industry to identify and develop standards and conformance-based solutions to increase efficiency, open markets, boost consumer confidence, and reduce costs. 

While the ANSI does not develop standards, it provides a framework for fair standards development and quality assessment systems and works continually to protect their integrity. 

What does the American National Standards Institute do? 

ANSI is a large organization that performs multiple roles. They are:

  • American National Standards—Accredits the procedures of standards-developing organizations (SDOs), including the ISA, and approves their documents as American National Standards (ANS). 
  • International standardization – Acts as the sole US representative to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission through the US National Committee (USNC). 
  • International trade and development – Works in multiple key public-and-private sector partnership activities across the globe to provide capacity-building assistance and other engagement opportunities with emerging economies on standards, trade, infrastructure, and good regulatory practices.
  • Standards coordination – Coordinates standards in areas vital to US interests and priorities.
  • Membership – ANSI members have access to, influence over, and information on standards and conformity assessment activities and decisions directly affecting the industry. 
  • Education and training – Provides education and training programs to promote understanding and participation in standards and conformity assessment activities at every level. 
  • Government affairs – Bridges the gap between industry and government, facilitating information exchange between SDOs and public-sector leaders, agencies, and legislators. 
  • Consumer outreach – Informs consumers and consumer representatives of standardization initiatives and involves them in the voluntary consensus standards-setting process. 
  • Recognition of standardization agreements – Celebrates those who develop standards through awards and Hall of Fame ceremonies. 
  • Standards-based identifier registration programs – Provides programs for registering unique organizational identifiers into international directories. 
  • Access to standards – Provides access to standards through its e-commerce site, webstore.ansi.org
  • Conformity assessments – Accredits conformity assessment bodies through its subsidiary, the ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB). 
  • Workforce credentialing – Connects and educates stakeholders to create a more integrated and effective credentialing system through its affiliate, Workcred.

What is the International Society of Automation? 

Founded in 1945, the ISA is a non-profit professional association that seeks to “create a better world through automation.” It develops standards, facilitates knowledge sharing, certifies professionals, provides education and training, publishes books and technical articles, hosts conferences and exhibits, and provides networking and career development programs to advance individual careers and the wider automation profession. 

ISA defines itself through its vision, mission, and values:

  • Vision – Create a better world through automation
  • Mission – Empowering the global automation community through standards and knowledge sharing
  • Values –  
    • Excellence – Providing industry-leading, unbiased content developed and vetted by a community of experts.
    • Diversity and Inclusion – Committing to being a global, diverse, and inclusive organization. 
    • Professionalism – Upholding the highest standards of competence and skill
    • Integrity – Acting with honesty, integrity, and trust.
    • Collaboration – Seeking out opportunities to work together for the benefit of the Society, its members, and the automation profession. 

The International Society of Automation also releases a yearly strategic plan, which sets out the Society’s goals for the year. 

Cybersecurity and The International Society of Automation

Aside from the functions listed above, the ISA also has a cybersecurity focus. It created the ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance (ISAGCA), a collaborative forum to improve cybersecurity awareness, readiness, and knowledge sharing. Consisting of more than 50 member companies and representing over $1.5 trillion in aggregate revenue across more than 2,400 combined worldwide locations, the forum aims to accelerate and expand: 

  • Standards
  • Certifications
  • Education programs
  • Advocacy efforts
  • Thought leadership

In summary, the ANSI administers and coordinates the US voluntary standards and conformity assessment system, while the ISA primarily develops standards for the automation profession.    

 How Tripwire Can Help

To sustain compliance, implement internal best practices to make sure IT systems not only achieve a known and trusted state but that they also maintain that state continuously. This helps address the integrity, risk, control, and many other elements of the ISA/IEC-62443 standard. Fortra’s Tripwire helps by automating integrity checking on systems as well as ensuring the systems are configured securely according to the standard – and alert on drift when less secure settings are used.