Page updated Nov 1, 2015

    Director's Message

    Is the ISA relevant today? 

    Several times in the last few months, I have been asked about the relevance of the ISA today. My standard answer used to be something like “If not the ISA, then what?” That always came out a little odd and felt like a negative even though it was meant to be a positive. I have changed my answer, and I would like to let you know why.

    On a recent business trip overseas, I had the opportunity to talk about ISA84 and ISA62443 (ISA99) in length. The president of our business had the opportunity to talk about TR84.00.07 to a room full of eager engineers. We were overwhelmed with questions and sincere interest both at the booth and after the presentation. This is not the way it usually goes in the USA. In fact, most people tend to yawn a little when we discuss the importance of robust safety systems and industrial control systems cyber security. So what was different?

    Well, for starters, we were in Ningbo, China and we were almost the only western people in the entire city. After the novelty wore off and everyone took our picture and practiced their English, the real interest started to surface. People came to talk to us that were responsible for operating processes safely in China. They had a sincere interest in what we knew and they had read the ISA standards and technical reports in detail. In fact, some of them had deep knowledge of the contents of these documents.

    I had a similar experience with our friends in the U.A.E. earlier this year. During an industrial cyber security conversation, one of the engineers realized that one person in our conversation was one of the authors on a ISA document. You would have thought the guy just met a rock star.

    These opportunities provide a window to see the real value of the ISA and how it can be an agent for change in every region of the world. Even if the ISA standard is not considered the local operating standard, it has value and is read and understood with the intent to prevent problems. The ISA actually affects people we never meet and we should all recognize the value our organization provides to the engineers trying to build and operate equipment all over the world.

    If you have never served the ISA in a capacity other than member, I would like to encourage you take that step and consider sharing your knowledge and experience with your peers. We can use your help in our division. Division members are encouraged to write content to share ideas, best practices, and findings with the entire division of peers. Additionally, the ISA provides standards, training courses, publications (almost 200 books including the industrial cybersecurity one I bought just last week), certifications and certificates (both for safety and cybersecurity), and conferences. These activities benefit the entire industry, not just our members. Members receive additional benefits including discounts on events and purchases of ISA products. The extensive articles and information available on our division web site are only available to ISA division members. Last, please consider encouraging our peers worldwide in their similar endeavors.  

    So, today I will answer the question by stating that “the ISA is a leading provider of knowledge and standards from engineering peers focused on operating their facilities safely and securely."  


    Jim McGlone, GICSP

    ISA Safety & Security Division Director