The Family History Information Standards Organisation (FHISO) is a newly-formed international organization created to develop standards for the digital representation and sharing of family history and genealogical information. The standards are hoped to solve today’s interoperability issues independently of technology platforms, genealogy products or services. They are expected to provide opportunities for innovation and address robust user requirements such as search, capture and research administration.
In the fall of 2010, a group of technologists and users formed the “Build a BetterGEDCOM Project” to improve data exchange standards and to facilitate sharing between researchers. This grassroots effort has grown into an open forum for the exchange of ideas, and a substantial body of work has been produced. In order to realize the project goals, a more structured, organized environment was needed. It is hoped that FHISO will provide this environment.
The FHISO process is expected to identify practices and trends that require standardization and provide a transparent, collaborative environment that promotes innovation and consensus-building for the development of open standards. Following publication, the organization is expected to provide education and other support to encourage standards adoption and use. The FHISO standards will be publicly available at zero or minimal cost on a non-discriminatory basis according to an recently released FHISO statement. Anyone will be able to implement the standards for any purpose without royalty or license fees, the statement said.
FHISO membership is available to all who participate in the global family history and genealogical community. “The success of FHISO depends on the voluntary participation of its members representing all the global stakeholder groups,” the group said in its statement to the press. “In the standards-setting process, there is no substitute for the active involvement of vendors, developers, technologists, users and family history or genealogy organisations.”