Like any technology; standards, regulations and guidelines are important to ensure safe, efficient, secure and productive adoption and operation. Standards are vital, for suppliers, users and anyone who develops or supports RFID systems, applications, equipment (hard or soft ware) and solutions.
RFID Standards & Industry Bodies
Because RFID applications span a number of areas requiring standardization (electrical, radio frequency, inter-device protocols, and coding amongst others), standards for the RFID world are set by a number of bodies. As a result care is needed by any organization planning a system that will span multiple countries or multiple organizations jurisdictions. Electrical standards and protocol standards relate to the exchange of information between tags and readers, which are governed by standards defined and published by ISO (the International Standards Organization) and, in Europe, by CEN (European Committee for Standardisation).
Some of the ISO standards governing RFID systems are:
Principal ISO Standards
- ISO 14223/1 : Air interface standard for radio frequency identification of Animals using advanced transponders
- ISO 14443 : HF (13.56 MHz) standard used for RFID-enabled passports under ICAO 9303
- ISO 15693 : HF (13.56 MHz) standard, used for non-contact smart payment and credit cards.
- ISO 18000-7 : UHF (433 MHz) standard for all active RFID products, mandated by the U.S. Department of Defense, and NATO.
- ISO 18185: UHF standard for electronic “seals” used for tracking cargo containers.
There are various RFID standards, these have been created by many bodies – be it industry user specific, regional, national, institute experts, international or technology based. They usually all tie in, attempting to create a working standard or agreeable operational best practice guide.
RFID standards are created to:
1. Help to ensure that products inter-operate between different entities (e.g commercial, government, etc).
2. Provide guidelines in which to develop complementary and inter-operable products (tags, readers, middle-ware, software, and accessories).
3. Broaden markets and thereby encourage competition which should result in lower prices for users of RFID products that adhere to standards.
4. Increase confidence in new technologies.
There are standards relating to different aspects of RFID:
Air Interface Communications protocol standards typically define how the reader and the tag ‘talk’ to one another. This includes the:
1. Physical characteristics of the radio communication sometimes called the ‘physical layer’
2. Structure of commands and responses.
3. “Anti-collision” algorithm or method of detecting and communicating with only one tag when more than one tag is present.
- Data content standards describe how information is to be formatted, such as what is stored on an RFID tag.
- Device communication standards explain how data is communicated from the reader to computer.
- Application Standards illustrate how products are to be used, such as where do I place label.
- Conformance standards provide instructions on how a specific device is to be evaluated to ensure it complies with a standard.
Many RFID Systems have their standard categorized as “Identification cards” or “Con tactless integrated circuit(s) cards”. There are specific RFID standards for the identification of tyres, wheels, freight containers, reusable plastic containers, and even animals. All of these types of standards must be considered and adhered to when designing a product, such as a RFID Tag or a RFID Reader. Additionally, many products support more than one standard.
The leading bodies issuing RFID related standards are:
International Organizations include;
- IEC – International Electrotechnical Commission
- ISO – International Standards Organization
- GS1 – EPCglobal (including AIM UK)
- JTC 1 – A joint committee of ISO and IEC (Joint Technical Committee)
Organizations that issue Radio Frequency standards;
- ETSI – European Telecommunications Standards Institute
- ERO – European Radio communications Office
- FCC – United States Federal Communications Commission
Standards, especially specific technology ones, have a huge effect on businesses and the way they operate. Standards exist to ensure quality, safety, efficiency and more. Customers and suppliers should follow, adhere and recognize standards wherever possible, as these usually exist for a reason and help to guarantee quality. The largest users, suppliers and developers in the world create RFID Mandates, which encourage the use of RFID technology and what RFID standards to use. As many RFID standards are still being developed and even more being updated, it is important to check the governing authority websites for the most up-to-date information.
The number and use of standards within RFID and its associated industries is quite complex. It involves a number of bodies and is in a process of developments.
Standards have been produced to cover four key areas of RFID application and use:
- air interface standards (for basic tag-to-reader data communication)
- content and encoding (numbering schemes)
- conformance (testing of RFID systems)
- interoperability between applications and RFID systems
There are several standards bodies involved in the development and definition of RFID technologies including the International Organization of Standardization (ISO).
More useful information can be found here:
- Zebra Technologies
- RFID Journal
- EPC GLOBAL
- THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
ISO’s and RFID
ISO’s and RFID Standards are given out by The United Kingdom Accreditation Service Air interface standards.
RFID frequencies are governed by the ISO 18000–RFID Air Interface family of standards, and a complete set of standards was released in September 2004: ISO 18000-1 – ”Generic Parameters for the Air Interface for Globally
- ISO 18000-2 – for frequencies below 135 kHz
- ISO 18000-3 – for 13.56 MHz
- ISO 18000-4 – for 2.45 GHz
- ISO 18000-6 – for 860 to 960 MHz
Each region, and continent, has a different governing body and authority. Each continent uses different radio frequencies, varying technologies and has individual business operational practices specific to each country. In Europe, the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) defines the rules, regulations and guidelines for identification technologies, such as RFID. This includes the advised frequency spectrum, input and output power units, as well as a lot of other detailed technicalities. Is it extremely important that the components of any RFID system are certified for the region in which it is operating, this would make it safe and legal, as well as knowing that it’s technology grouped components had been tested and approved.
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