GRIFS Issues Interim Report

By Rhea Wessel

The Global RFID Interoperability Forum for Standards held its first open meeting, which included a document that outlines proposals for an ongoing database of standards and discusses some key issues that need to be addressed in ongoing research.


More than 70 organizations, including companies, standards setters and governments, gathered last month in Brussels for the first meeting of a European Union-funded project known as GRIFS, the Global RFID Interoperability Forum for Standards. The first open meeting resulted in a lively yet technical debate about RFID interoperability and standards. Attendees also published a paper on key issues, and that document is now open for public comment.

GRIFS, founded in February of this year by GS1, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), is designed to coordinate global dialogue on RFID-related standards (see GS1, ETSI, CEN Establish Global RFID Standards Forum).

Interested parties can read the paper online by visiting and can submit their comments via e-mail. The final report will be published in October, and the GRIFS’ organizers intend, around that same time, to also make available an interactive database chronicling existing standards around the world.

“The wiki-style database will help people save days of research time as they try to get an overview of existing standards worldwide,” says Henri Barthel, a GRIFS spokesman. “This is not just a static list, but a dynamic database.” Barthel, GS1’s director of global partnerships and projects, works with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other external standards organizations. “We hope that GRIFS will lead to cooperation among different standards bodies,” he says. “The database is a tool that will support this effort.”

During the meeting, participants also discussed potential conflicts between Near Field Communication (NFC) standards and those set forth by ISO. “This is something we need to look at in more detail,” Barthel says. “There’s probably an opportunity for better cooperation. The interest in NFC is growing. The question is how to combine the NFC protocol with a phone that also includes a standard RFID reader that can read an EPC, for example. This is an area where lively cooperation is desired. Maybe GRIFS will enable these parties to have a place to meet and exchange ideas and plans.”

Speakers at the Brussels event included Robert Noth, chairman of the board of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI); Gérald Santucci, head of the RFID unit of the European Commission’s Information Society and Media Directorate-General; Akhilesh Mathur, program manager for standards and certification at the Universal Postal Union (UPU); and Atsushi Honzawa, senior engineer at Hitachi‘s Security & Smart ID Solutions Division. (Links to presentations from the event can be found here.)

Noth’s message, Barthel says, was very clear: Standards should not be created as a business, but should rather be developed based on the needs of business and the expectations of users.

The Brussels meeting, held on June 18, was followed by an additional gathering in Halifax, U.K., on June 30 to discuss networks, data exchange and governance. The next GRIFS meetings are slated to take place in San Diego on Nov. 20, and in the months following in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Brussels. The San Diego meeting is set to feature discussions of air interfaces, sensors, conformance and performance standards.