Guide to understand data in standards development

31 January 2022  

BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, publishes the first iteration of guidance on how data is to be used in the development of all types of standards. Comments on the standard are welcome and can be submitted online here.

The new standard covers data used to create standards and provides guidance on the ways data is selected, assessed and used in standards development, including different data types and processing. It also covers analysis of types of human bias and how cognitive biases can change the way data is interpreted and incorporated into decision-making processes. It details how data and data models can introduce bias or exclusion into the standards development process and the impacts of data bias or exclusion and the communities affected.

Scott Steedman, Director-General at BSI said: “In our role as the UK National Standards Body, we are committed to creating a more inclusive standards development environment, enabling diverse individuals, organizations and stakeholders to participate in standards-making. The publication of the first consensus guide for understanding the role of data in standards, BSI Flex 236, is an important milestone for the international standards community. Together we are taking a major step towards ensuring the systematic development of inclusive standards for all.”

Anne Hayes, Director of Sectors at BSI added: “This guide is a first iteration to help enable the development of inclusive standards. We know that data is critical for the standards that we develop and this guide will help ensure that standards are truly representative, especially of communities traditionally excluded from benchmark datasets. We warmly welcome comments and input to help develop the guide and ultimately enable standards makers use a series of critical questions and analyses techniques to understand and interact with data.”

The standard, named BSI Flex 236: Enabling the development of inclusive standards: Understanding the role of data and data analysis – Guide, has been developed by an advisory group1 made-up of data and behavioral scientists, academics, standards-makers, and professional bodies and interest groups. It is for use by standards developers and standards organizations, but could also be used by government for the development of policy and regulation.

Comment on the standard here.

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Notes to the editor:

The standard is sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Office for Product Safety and Standards.

1 Advisory group

Ada Lovelace Institute; Association of Convenience Stores; Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation; Consumer and Public Interest Network; Data 2X, United Nations Foundation; Engineering Design Centre, University of Cambridge; Kingston University; Market Research Society; Open Data Institute; Internet Institute, Oxford University; Prospect Union; Women’s Engineering Society.

About BSI flex standards

A Flex standard is a fast-tracked agreement, developed through a consensus-building process, facilitated by BSI. It is a new type of standard that is best suited to areas where there is a need to rapidly iterate and update content as best practice emerges. BSI Flex Standards are developed using repeated cycles of iteration and new versions. Find out more about Flex Standards here: