RFID Standards

How important are the standards in RFID to you? This web site keeps you updated on the major changes that are taking place in RFID Standards but is that enough?

If you are involved in RFID then the standards world should be a major part of your focus. The ability to create products that don't just follow the standard but actually lead the standards is a major competitive advantage. This is why you see so many companies either actively participating or subscribing to standards reports that keep them updated on the work of the committee.

There are many ways to get involved in standards. In most countries there are groups working on RFID Standards. In the United States the mirror organization to ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31 is the U.S. TAG (Technical Advisory Group) to SC 31 called ADC1.  The TAG is managed by AIM Inc. (http://www.aimglobal.org), and you can get more info on the group by emailing adc1@aimglobal.org for a membership form. Membership gives you the right to participate in all of the work of SC 31. For details of the RFID work see http://www.understandrfidstandards.com/isoiec-jtc-1sc-31/

If you do not want to actively participate in the work, but need to know what is happening, you can take advantage of the reports that are available. High Tech Aid participates in many of the RFID Standards committee.  Steve Halliday Is the convener of ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 31/WG 4/SG 3 (RFID Air Interface Standards) and is the co-chair of the GS 1 EPCglobal Technical Standards Committee and the Hardware Group. High Tech Aid published monthly reports on the activities of this group and others, and you can subscribe by sending an email to steve@hightechaid.com and asking for more information.

The Internet of Things

So what do you think the Internet of Things is? Does your understanding label it as a bottle of milk talking to your refrigerator? It's a lot more than that, and that is why companies like IBM, Cisco, and GE are involved in a very big way.

Some people call it M2M (Machine to Machine), others are talking about the Ubiquitous Sensor Network. They are all variations of the same thing and standards will play a big part in the creation of the Internet of Things.

I have just returned from Wuxi, China, the cente rof the work being done on the Internet of Things in China. Wuxi New District is a planned community with many companies and organizations already have office space in this area. We visited with several of the companies and saw examples of the work they are doing from Cloud Storage to sensing traffic, to monitoring pollution, to tracking power management. We saw examples of new technology face tracking and identification alongside location technology accurate to 15mm.

The next day we attended a Europe-China conference on the Internet of Things and heard speakers from both China and Europe detail the work they are doing in this arena.

Finally I attended several days of meetings of the CASAGRAS2 project (http://www.iot-casagras.org/) to discuss projects around the world related to the Internet of Things. I learned that a highly successful academic conference had been held in Wuxi a few days before I arrived. That another academic conference and an educational conference will be held this week in Kuala Lumpur. They have over 300 people signed up for these sessions.

The same group of people will be presenting an educational session at the RFID Journal Live pre-conference in April (http://www.rfidjournalevents.com/live/internet.php). Another group of sessions are being finalized in the South American region in early September, and discussions have started for an event in September in the USA.

What does this have to do with RFID Standards?

RFID is without doubt, a key enabler for the Internet of Things. Standards for the air interface, the data protocols, the security, the communications are all a key part of the system. Many of these will already exist, others will need to be written. Many still need to be identified.

Some of the organizations that will be involved include ISO/IEC JTC 1, AIM, as well as several National Standards organizations. If this is something that is important to you, then you need to get involved now. AIM has an initiative for its members (email: iot@aimglobal.org). Contact your National Body to learn more about the work in ISO/IEC.

Steve Halliday
Feb 27, 2011

Who else is involved in RFID Standards – Other Groups – II

ISO and EPCglobal are not the only organizations creating RFID standards. In a national basis there are many organizations that are working on local standards for a particular country. Many of these will be application standards, but some may be technical standards.

Taking up one level there are also organizations that work across a region (CEN is a good example) that are also involved in standardization involving RFID.

CEN (European Committee for Standardization) is a regional standardization body that works in Europe. The output from the committee is a European Standard (EN). This is a standard that has been adopted by one of the three recognized European Standardization Organizations: CEN, CENELEC or ETSI. From the CEN website we see:

“European Standards are a key component of the Single European Market. Perhaps rather technical and 'hidden' from the public and media, but they represent one of the most important issues for business. These technical documents – perceived as irrelevant to some organizations – are crucial for facilitating trade and hence have high visibility among manufacturers inside and outside Europe. A standard represents a model specification, a technical solution against which a market can trade. It codifies best practice and is usually state of the art.”

The CEN process is very similar to the ISO process with several steps to get to a standard:

CEN and ISO have an agreement (the Vienna Agreement) which effectively ensures that neither group duplicated the work of the other.

A current search for RFID on the CEN web site only results in one standard (either draft or published) and that is a CEN version of ISO 21007 but that could change at any time.

ETSI (European telecommunications Standards Institute) is recognized as an official European Standards Organization by the European Union, enabling valuable access to European markets. It produces globally applicable standards for Information & Communications Technologies including fixed, mobile, radio, broadcast, internet, aeronautical and other areas.

From an RFID standpoint, ETSI is most known for the work they do on the Regulatory side of things. A search on the ETSI web site for RFID yields 20 items. Many of these are the Radio regulations that define the use of Radio devices including RFID. A quick reference list of ETSI regulations includes:

EN 302 208-1 – Electromagnetic compatibility and Radio spectrum Matters (ERM); Radio Frequency Identification Equipment operating in the band 865 MHz to 868 MHz with power levels up to 2 W; Part 1: Technical requirements and methods of measurement
EN 302 208-2 – Electromagnetic compatibility and Radio spectrum Matters (ERM); Radio Frequency Identification Equipment operating in the band 865 MHz to 868 MHz with power levels up to 2 W; Part 2: Harmonized EN under article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive
EN 300 330-1 – Electromagnetic compatibility and Radio spectrum Matters (ERM); Radio Frequency Identification Equipment operating in the band 865 MHz to 868 MHz with power levels up to 2 W; Part 2: Harmonized EN under article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive
EN 300 330-2 – Electromagnetic compatibility and Radio spectrum Matters (ERM); Short Range Devices (SRD); Radio equipment in the frequency range 9 kHz to 25 MHz and inductive loop systems in the frequency range 9 kHz to 30 MHz; Part 2: Harmonized EN covering the essential requirements of article 3.2 of the R&TTE Directive

Other items that are found include reports on interoperability, and System Reference documents.

Many other groups worldwide may be involved in RFID standards but they are too numerous to be mentioned here. If you have a special need to understand standards in a part of the world, then let me know and I will see if we can help you.