For example, is there a standard data format or network?
The only asset-tracking standard of which I am aware is the Global Returnable Asset Identifier (GRAI), which is a GS1 standard for identifying returnable transport items, such as pallets, containers, crates, trays, trolleys and beer kegs. Returnable assets can be owned by either trading partner, or can be rented via a system by which companies collaborate on the use of these assets.
A GRAI consists of a company identifier, an asset type and an optional serial number, and can be encoded in a bar code or an EPC RFID tag that can be scanned to automatically register a returnable asset's movements—for example, when used to ship goods or when returned empty.
GS1 also has something called the Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI), which was created so that companies could uniquely identify and manage assets, such as computers, desks, vehicles, transport equipment, spare parts and so forth. I don't believe the GIAI is widely used, however—at least, not yet with RFID.
I think it would be valuable for industries to get together and create asset-tracking standards. For example, it would be very useful if all health-care providers globally had a system for identifying gurneys, oxygen pumps and the like. That way, this information could be encoded in RFID transponders and assets could be identified when they left one hospital and arrived at another. That will likely happen after RFID becomes more common for tracking assets.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal