A Standards Update - Why do we need standards?
Welcome to this edition of a regular column
about standards in the Automatic Identification and Data Capture
(AIDC) industry. This column will be updated regularly to keep
you current on news of standards and their impact on the
In the coming months, we will try to
educate you on the various technologies covered under the AIDC
umbrella as well as bring news of the standardization process
and its progress. If you have news about standards that you want
to share, or questions you want to ask, send them to
email@example.com and we will try to incorporate them into
the next column.
In the last issue of this column, I
tried to give an introduction about standards and gave some
examples in the RFID world. In this issue, we will cover the
need for standards.
term standards covers a lot of ground. Everything we touch
in our life is in some way governed by standards, whether
they are actual standards, de-facto standards, or even just
commonly agreed ideas. I mentioned the standards for credit
cards last issue, but consider other things more common in
our life. How about the size of paper? In the United States
we use "letter" size paper for all of our daily work (in
most other countries they use a metric size of paper, close
to letter size called A4). Think about the problems in paper
production, storage, etc. if we all just arbitrarily used a
different paper size.
global home for standards is ISO (International Standards
Organization - http://www.iso.ch) where they have literally
thousands of standards in about 40 broad categories from
terminology to testing, to health care, to railway
engineering, to clothing, to agriculture, to paper, and most
important to us, to information technology.
ISO joined with IEC (International
Electrotechnical Commission - http://www.iec.ch) to form a
Joint Technical Committee (JTC 1) with responsibility for
the Information Technology side of standards. As many of you
may be aware, it is with JTC 1 (http://www.jtc1.org) that
the global standardization of the AIDC technologies rest.
In January 1995, AIM met with the U.S. TAG
to JTC 1 who agreed to propose the formation of a new
SubCommittee at the JTC1 meeting in June 1995. At that meeting
an Ad-Hoc group was formed to review comments, prepare
recommendations, and a draft title and scope. The Ad-Hoc met in
November 1995 and they recommended the formation of the new
SubCommittee to JTC 1. The subcommittee (SC 31) was formed with
the first meeting in Brussels in 1996. At that time, three work
groups were setup within the SubCommittee and since then anothers
have been added. The workgroups defined are as follows:
WG 1 Data Carriers: This includes all
the symbology standards in the barcode world, as well as any
future standardization in the data carrier area.
WG 2 Data Syntax: The definitions of
how messages are stored and created.
WG 3 Conformance: The testing of
hardware along with the specification of quality for the
WG 4 RFID: All aspects of RFID with
several subgroups as follows:
SG 1 Data Syntax
SG 2 Unique Id. for RFID tags
SG 3 Air Interface
SG 5 Application
SG 6 RFID Conformance and
SG 7 RFID Security
WG 5 Real Time Locating Systems (RTLS)
WG 6 Mobile Item Identification and Management (MIIM)
WG 7 Security for Item Management
(newly formed in June 2009)
Work is well under way in all these groups,
with the first global standards were published in 1999.
Participation in these groups is only possible as a
representative of your National Body (ANSI in the USA, BSI in UK
etc.), though some organizations have applied for and been
granted Liaison status with the subcommittee and are able to
participate directly in the work.
What does all this mean to you?
From a manufacturer and end user
prospective, standards are very important. International
standards benefits everyone in many ways. These include:
elimination of duplication of effort in creation process,
standards compliance will be eased, (one instead of several),
and the elimination of duplicate but different standards
(national or regional standards that are the same but
Next month we will look at the work of SC
31 in a bit more detail.