Why Standards? What Standards? How Standards?

Dear Friends of IO Informatics,

A lot of people ask me about different standards for healthcare and life science data description, integration and exchange. At first blush this might seem like a dry topic of conversation, but standards are incredibly important. and interesting.

On one hand, standards make it possible to communicate much more easily across different groups (and their databases). If a group in Basel defines data using the same standard as a group in Boston it becomes easier to connect all of the data, from Basel to Boston. Colleagues call this "cooperation without coordination". There are many other benefits to standardization.

On the other hand, standards can be limiting. They must be able to evolve without breaking, and different standards will always be important for different applications. Health science is a dynamic enterprise, in an open world. This is why it is important to be able to easily understand and align with any important standard without becoming "locked" or trapped within definitions that any standard, by its nature, enforces.

I thought you might be interested in the short, informal white paper I've published: Why Standards, What Standards, How Standards (PDF). My goal with this share is to help all of us - not just data scientists and knowledge engineers - understand a little bit more about why we use standards, what kinds of data standards we use, and how we use them. I hope you find it useful!

All the best,


IO is at the forefront of the semantic technology wave. The Company provides software and services for uniquely efficient data integration and transformative knowledge applications in life sciences, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical environments. IO is headquartered in Berkeley, California with offices in Canada and Europe. IOI works with life science and healthcare customers in industry, academia and not-for-profit foundations.

Sylvia Vallee
Marketing Manager
Tel 514-508-2338