Standards Update – 2 – February 2011

This month there are a series of ISO RFID standards meetings taking place in Sarasota, FL USA.  The second meeting was SC 31/WG 7.  This committee is responsible for security and file management of the ISO/IEC 18000 series standards. The standard is ISO/IEC 29167 and it is still in the early stages of development.

The meeting was well attended with 25 people from 13 National Bodies and Liaison organizations.

Part 1 of this standard is the overall architecture and this document is already in ballot at the CD stage (see for details of the process).

The standard is broken into several parts – the first is the general information, but the remainder define the specific methods to implement security and file management in the specific frequency dependent parts of ISO/IEC 18000.  The first part of the work is on a method to implement in ISO/IEC 18000-6.

The work of this group on the UHF specific implementations is being kept in step with the work of GS1 EPCGlobal. This has slowed the work a little, but the progress has been good.

The two parts to the work are File Management and Security. For File Management, the goal is to produce a method to provide a standardized way of accessing user memory on a tag that conforms to ISO/IEC 18000-6. The concept can be thought of as similar to a hard drive on a PC where we have a file management scheme that we call folders. The committee is addressing how this can be achieved on a tag.

The second part of the work is on Security. The committee is creating a means to implement encryption based security on a tag. This security option will be presented in a standard fashion with a collection of optional security suites (such as AES, Triple DES etc.). The tag and reader will negotiate a common security method and then communicate through this encryption.

This work will allow for the authentication of tags and readers thus enabling many new applications for RFID. The ability to hide data in an encrypted form gives a RFID the ability to satisfy the needs of the users to effect a scheme that will enable privacy of data.

Steve Halliday
Feb 18, 2011


The standards of an RFID system

If you visit What is RFID you will see a basic introduction into the building blocks of an RFID system. But you may now want to know what this means as far as standards are concerned. The page on SC 31 shows all of the RF standards that SC 31 is working on. This includes RFID, RTLS (Real Time Locating Systems), and MIIM (Mobile Item Identification and Management) from both the hardware and data side. We will look at the RFID side to give examples of how the standards system works.

Going back to our three parts of an RFID system:

  1. A tag (or multiple tags), also called as transponder
  2. A reader or interrogator together with antenna
  3. Supporting infrastructure (hardware and software).

We need to see how these parts are covered by the standards.

The first thing that we have to consider is the tag and how it communicates with the reader. This is usually called the Air Interface standard. In RFID the main standard is ISO/IEC 18000 and its various parts. The standard is broken down by frequency to try to simplify the amount of information

  • ISO/IEC 18000 – Air Interface
    • Part 1: Reference architecture and definition of parameters to be standardized
    • Part 2: Parameters for air interface communications below 135 kHz
    • Part 3: Parameters for air interface communications at 13,56 MHz
    • Part 4: Parameters for air interface communications at 2,45 GHz
    • Part 6: Parameters for air interface communications at 860 MHz to 960 MHz
    • Part 7: Parameters for active air interface communications at 433 MHz

Next we have to consider how the data is stored on the tag and how it is interpreted by the reader. This is where we look to:

  • ISO/IEC 15961 – Data protocol
    • Part 1: Application interface
    • Part 2: Registration of RFID data constructs
    • Part 3: RFID data constructs
    • Part 4: Application interface commands for battery assist and sensor functionality
  • ISO/IEC 15962 – Data protocol: data encoding rules and logical memory functions
  • ISO/IEC 15963 – Unique Identification for RF Tag 

Next we need to consider how we talk to the reader and pass the information into the system and infrastructure. The following standards cover this area:

  • ISO/IEC 24791 – Software system infrastructure
    • Part 1: Device management
    • Part 2: Data management
    • Part 3: Application management
    • Part 4: Application interface
    • Part 5: Device interface

There are many other standards that are being worked on by SC 31 but the above breakdown shows the various divisions from a system use point of view.

Finally the work of WG 7 is on File Management and Security. This group is defining the necessary steps to store more information on an RFID tag and how we implement a real security system that can help to protect that data.