This year, the theme is “Standards – The world’s common language” because international standards:

1) Make communication across countries and technology possible

Imagine a world where your credit card would not fit into every cash machine or where you could not just stroll into a shop and find the right light bulb for your lamp. A world without telephone, country and currency codes. Or a world without access to the Internet.

2) Help us understand important information despite language barriers

For example, standardized graphical symbols display important information quickly and clearly, no matter what language we speak or read – be they wash and care instructions on clothes, emergency evacuation signs, or electrical equipment instructions. But if everyone used different symbols for the same message, we would not understand each other!

3) Are necessary for interoperability and compatibility of technology

Technology needs standards to communicate. Have you ever wondered how your computer is able to send your documents to a printer from a different manufacturer? Standards set out common rules and parameters so that products can work with each other. Standard file formats like MPEG and JPEG enable you to share videos and photos with family and friends using technology from different vendors.

4) Help us get exactly what we want

Just picture how difficult it would be to order products and parts from international suppliers if we didn’t have standardized units of measurement. “Small”, “medium” and “large” mean different things to different people.

5) Are necessary for cooperation between people

Not only are standards good for trade, they also make it easy for people around the world to work together.

When standards are in place, things just work. Without them, routine activities we take for granted, like making a phone call, surfing the Web or using our credit cards when we travel, would be much more complicated or even impossible. That is why, to celebrate World Standards Day, the three organizations that make up the World Standards Cooperation – IEC, ISO and ITU – invited people to imagine what a world without standards would look like in a 15 second video! See the results:

Video: a world without standards

World Standards Day is also an opportunity to thank the thousands of experts who volunteer their time and effort to create international standards with the help of national standards bodies and partner organizations under the IEC, ISO and ITU umbrellas.

So, now that you have the basic facts, why don't you speak standards too? Join us in talking about your favourite standards on 14 October with #speakstandards.