Speaking up for consumers - the Consumer & Public Interest Network

If standards are to have a real impact it’s essential that the people who use products and services – consumers – help create them. That’s what the Consumer & Public Interest Network (CPIN) is for. It represents consumers’ views and makes sure that new standards really make a difference for consumers. 

CPIN consists of a mix of ordinary consumers with some relevant experience and experts from organizations like Which?, Citizens Advice and the National Consumer Federation. CPIN also includes environmental groups e.g. the UK Sustainability Network for Standardisation (UK SNS), as well as non-industry groups with a societal focus, e.g. charities, academic research groups, and relevant professional associations such as the Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors.

Members of the public who join the network are trained as Consumer Representatives, and may later become Consumer Coordinators.

How does CPIN make a difference?

CPIN puts the consumer’s point of view forward through two key groups of people:

Consumer Reps are allocated to committees that are drafting standards so that they can influence standards while they’re being developed. They also often suggest new standards that might benefit consumers. Their work is organized and directed by a smaller group of Consumer Coordinators, who are also volunteers.

The Strategic Advisory Committee, meanwhile, pulls together insights from consumer organizations such as Which? and uses those insights to help guide the Consumer Reps. And it also represents the consumer view on the BSI committee that ultimately drives standards strategy – the Standards Policy and Strategy Committee.

So members of CPIN not only get stuck in with the detail, they also get involved at the highest levels where key decisions are made.

CPIN priority areas

CPIN couldn’t get involved in every standard that’s developed – BSI publishes around 2,000 standards a year – so it focuses its efforts on areas that are most important to consumers.

Services organizations – improving quality and choice in service markets

Safety – safety of products and services and those related to health

Inclusivity – making sure all consumers are treated fairly regardless of age, disability or personal circumstances

Sustainability – making sure products and services minimize their impact on the environment

Security of personal information – keeping personal and financial details safe

International links

The CPIN is linked in with consumer activity in standardization around the world, through ANEC, CEN/CENELEC, Consumers International and ISO COPOLCO.

ANEC The European voice for consumers in standardization, based in Brussels, includes many UK Consumer Reps amongst its members. They provide input directly into European standards technical committees.

CEN/CENELEC These are the European standards bodies whose work is of importance to consumers.

Consumers International (CI) is the the world federation of consumer groups which champions consumer rights around the world, including providing input to international standardization. CPIN is a supporter member of CI.

COPOLCO The Consumer Policy Committee of ISO enables the consumer voice to be heard at all levels in the international standards organization, ISO. BSI and several members of CPIN are actively involved in COPOLCO. BSI hosted the annual meeting in London in 2011.