Keeping consumers and citizens safe and secure

Standards working to keep us safer in both virtual and physical spaces.

Few minutes to read
By Barnaby Lewis
Tagged as Consumers
Published on

safety first, wherever we interact

2020 confirmed something that we’ve known for a while: we’re spending more time than ever before working and meeting online. We’re also living in closer proximity to each other as cities continue to grow. It seems that we’re seeking the benefits of increased social and economic opportunities that come with greater concentrations of people, at the same time as the flexibility to work, shop and meet online wherever we find ourselves. But becoming more physically and digitally connected presents many new challenges.

Personal safety, both physical and digital, is a top priority for ISO’s consumer policy group, COPOLCO. This committee, dedicated to harnessing standards for consumer protection, exists to ensure that consumers have a voice in international standardization. It runs consumer-focused training events and raises awareness of standards that will make a real difference to the way we live and the products we consume. It also proposes new projects and policy from the consumer perspective.

Two recently published standards, and a third just approved for development, are examples of how ISO’s work reflects consumers’ interests and priorities. The first two will help make cities safer through full consideration of the environmental and design aspects as they relate to modern, smart cities, as well as protect our online privacy as we roam between networks and devices. The third will help consumers make informed choices about purchasing goods and services on the Internet.

Building safer communities

Crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) is an urban planning approach to designing living spaces in a way that deters violations and reduces fear amongst inhabitants. It aims to reduce crime and improve quality of living in communities. Such concepts have been around since the 1970s and used in numerous crime prevention strategies across the world, with much success.

ISO has just published an internationally agreed set of guidelines that brings together best practices. ISO 22341, Security and resilience – Protective security – Guidelines for crime prevention through environmental design, addresses the principles, elements, strategies and process for reducing crime – including certain types of terrorist attacks – and fear of crime in new or existing urban built environments.

Protecting our privacy in smart cities

Cloud computing, the Internet of Things, mobile networks and artificial intelligence are just some of the tools cities use to increase efficiency and improve the quality of life of their citizens, yet they also expose us to risks and vulnerabilities related to personal privacy and security. Solutions and standards abound, but they are not always easy to navigate when the systems and interconnections are as complex as the stakeholders are many.

A new technical specification has just been published which aims to help. ISO/IEC TS 27570, Privacy protection – Privacy guidelines for smart cities, provides recommendations and guidance on the management of privacy and on the use of supporting standards. These recommendations apply to organizations and stakeholders concerned with the delivery, use or availability of a service in a smart city ecosystem, where many technologies, systems and stakeholders interact in many and complex ways.

Informing our purchasing decisions

ISO members have just approved the development of guidelines for organizations to increase consumer understanding of online terms and conditions. This project aims to address the information gap that consumers often experience when purchasing goods and services online. Intimidated by long pages of fine print and obscure language, consumers will often click straight through to purchasing their chosen item. However, if the terms and conditions are not properly understood, the purchase may fail to meet the expectations for price, delivery time, complaints handling or even safety.

The newly established project committee (ISO/PC 335) will develop guidance for providers of goods, services and digital content on the clear design and presentation of online terms and conditions. It’s a major step towards maximizing consumer understanding and improving experiences. This in turn will lead to fewer complaints, particularly critical in an online environment where the buyer has the disadvantage of distance from the seller, access to the product and conflicting legal jurisdictions for cross-border purchases.

The ISO committee for consumers just held its plenary meeting online on 5-6 May, where it considered other potential work on standards for consumer protection. A recent proposal on “Guidance for marketing and advertising to children” has just been released for vote to the ISO membership.

For more information on this special ISO committee and its activities, sign up to the COPOLCO newsletter.

Dr Cristina Draghici

Barnaby Lewis
Barnaby Lewis

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