"ITU can play an
important role in furthering international standardization efforts (for
networked RFID) in addition to raising awareness about the challenges and
opportunities of this exciting new technology." That was a conclusion of
attendees representing standards bodies, telecoms service providers, vendors
and academia at a recent workshop Networked RFID:
Systems and Services.
Participants agreed that
standardization in the field is essential in order to roll out the technology
on a global scale. Experts agree that standards so far have developed in a
fragmented way; one example is the to-date weak coordination between different
regional bodies. Event steering committee chairman, Pierre-Andre Probst, said
that many new work areas have been identified for ITU as a result of the
workshop, giving further momentum to work already started in some ITU-T Study
Groups. Contributions on RFID are
expected in the Study Group meetings taking place in April (Korea, Switzerland
and based on the outcome of discussions here an action plan will be
developed in May.
identification (RFID) is a key part of the so-called Internet of Things, or as
one session chair put it: "RFID is part of a larger vision of future technological
communication has the potential to revolutionise commerce, with many areas of
business already benefiting from the use of RFID. But there are wide ranging
applications for this new technology beyond just making money. For example in Japan there
have been trials to use RFID to track children on the way to school, making
sure they get safely to their destination. In European ski resorts, RFID
ensures that skiers don't have to fish around in their pockets with cold hands
for their ski passes now that RFID equipped passes have become widely adopted.
A more serious upshot of this application is that now resort managers know how
many people are on the slopes at any given time, crucial information in an
As the technology takes
off, increasingly complicated applications are envisaged. RFID systems are
moving from closed reader and tag systems to systems where there is a need for
a network to share data. While now incipient, presenters at the workshop
forecast that the message traffic will increase exponentially over the next 10
years, which will have an impact on existing and future communication
infrastructure. And this is where the need for standards becomes more of an
The 'Internet of things' it
was said will lead to a new set of network requirements and capabilities as
potentially billions of tags start to transmit data. Network requirements and
capabilities for more-complicated services that include sensors must also be
taken into account. Sensors can monitor environmental variables. Their
combination with RFIDs will not only identify people or objects, but also
provide in addition to location other dynamic attributes such as temperature,
movement and acceleration.
Specifically ITU expects to
examine network and service architecture, requirements for machine-to-machine
communication, security, information service protocols, interoperability, data
format, radio frequency spectrum allocation, network performance and quality of
service in its technical study groups.
As far as security is
concerned, consumer protection, namely privacy and data protection, has
hindered user acceptance and so addressing this area is seen as a prerequisite
for public acceptance. ITU has much experience in this field, particularly in
the important area of alignment with policy and regulatory issues.
harmonization is a hindrance according to some experts towards achieving supply
chain efficiencies and security. This is a topic expected to be raised at the
upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), Geneva,
2007, and workshop participants suggested the need to establish RFID as a
ITU is also expected to
help coordinate ongoing standards work in the field in order to avoid work
duplication. Among the groups operating in the area are ISO, ETSI, IEEE,
EPCglobal and Near Field Communication Forum.
For more on RFID; ITU-T's Technology Watch, ITU's Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) report,
the Internet of Things). All presentations and an audio archive of the
event are also available.