New NIST spec details use of RF smart cards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology wants agencies to be able to use the same cards for several purposes but different vendors' smart cards for the same purpose.

To that end, it has released the Government Smart Card Interoperability Specification Version 2.1, replacing the year-old Version 2.0.

Version 2.1 should make it easier for agencies to use smart-card systems developed by different vendors, NIST officials said.

The new standard includes a common interface for contactless smart cards, or cards that use radio frequency waves rather than physical contact to share information with a reader device.

To view the NIST specification, go to and enter 140 in the

The new specification, detailed in the 229-page Interagency Report 6887-2003 Edition, 'establishes the foundation for achieving interoperability for both contact and contactless cards,' said Teresa Schwarzhoff, of NIST's Computer Security Division.

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