What is the Bit Format for HID Proximity Cards?

What is the Bit Format for HID Proximity Cards?

HID proximity cards are a staple in access control systems since they provide a secure and efficient way to manage access to buildings, rooms, and other secure areas. They operate using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, allowing for contactless communication between the card and a reader. Additionally, they can be easily integrated with other security systems, such as biometric scanners and surveillance cameras, thus creating a comprehensive security infrastructure. 

One of the standout features of HID access control cards is their robust security framework, which can be customized through various bit formats. Understanding the bit format of these cards is essential for anyone involved in setting up or managing an access control system. 

What exactly is called a bit format? 

The bit format of an HID proximity card refers to how the data is encoded and stored on the card. It dictates how the information is read by a card reader and subsequently interpreted by the access control system. Each bit format has a specific structure and length, which can vary depending on the security requirements and the specific use case.

In a broader sense, the bit format includes several key components:

  • Facility Code: A unique number assigned to a specific site or organization.
  • Card Number: A unique identifier assigned to each card within the same facility code.
  • Parity Bits: Used for error checking to ensure the integrity of the data.
  • Header and Footer Bits: Used to signal the beginning and end of the data stream.

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Common Bit Formats for HID Proximity Cards

HID proximity cards can be programmed with various bit formats. The most common formats are:

  1. 26-Bit Wiegand Format

The 26-bit Wiegand format is the industry standard and the most widely used bit format for hid prox ii cards

It includes the following components:

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  • 8-bit facility code: Allows for 256 unique facility codes.
  • 16-bit card number: Allows for 65,536 unique card numbers within each facility code.

The total of 26 bits (2 + 8 + 16) makes this format simple and easy to manage, which is why it is so commonly used in access control systems. However, its simplicity also makes it less secure than more complex formats.

  1. 34-Bit HID Format

The 34-bit format is another popular choice, offering a larger number of unique card and facility code combinations compared to the 26-bit format. It typically includes:

  • 16-bit facility code: Allows for 65,536 unique facility codes.
  • 16-bit card number: Allows for 65,536 unique card numbers within each facility code.

This format is often chosen for larger organizations that require more unique identifiers and enhanced security.

  1. 37-Bit HID Corporate 1000 Format

The 37-bit Corporate 1000 format is designed for organizations that need a high level of customization and security. It includes:

  • 2 parity bits: One at the beginning and one at the end for error checking.
  • 35-bit card number: Allows for over 34 billion unique card numbers.

HID 37 bit Proximity cards are unique because they enable the creation of proprietary bit formats tailored to an organization’s specific needs and offer a higher degree of control and security.

  1. Other Custom Bit Formats

In addition to the standard formats, the cards can be programmed with custom bit formats to meet specific security and operational requirements. These custom formats can vary in length and structure, depending on the organization’s needs. Custom formats are often used in high-security environments where standard formats do not provide adequate protection.

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Importance of Choosing the Right Bit Format

Selecting the appropriate bit format for your HID proximity cards is crucial for the following reasons:

  1. Security

The bit format directly impacts the security of the access control system. More complex formats, such as the 37-bit Corporate 1000, offer a higher level of security by:

  • Providing more unique identifiers 
  • Reducing the risk of card duplication and unauthorized access

Hence, organizations with higher security requirements should consider using these more complex formats.

  1. Scalability

The chosen bit format also affects the scalability of the access control system. Smaller businesses with fewer access points and cardholders may find the 26-bit format sufficient. In contrast, larger enterprises with numerous facilities and a large number of cardholders may demand the additional capacity offered by formats like the 34-bit or 37-bit. 

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  1. Compatibility

Ensuring compatibility between the bit format of the HID access control cards and the access control system is essential. Not all systems support every bit format, so it is important to verify that the chosen format is compatible with the existing or planned infrastructure. Mismatched formats can lead to operational issues and security vulnerabilities.

  1. Customization

Custom bit formats provide the flexibility to tailor the access control system to specific organizational needs. This customization can include unique facility codes, specific card number ranges, and additional security features. Corporations with unique security requirements should consider custom formats to ensure their needs are fully met.

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Managing Bit Formats in Access Control Systems

Managing bit formats within an access control system involves configuring the system to recognize and correctly interpret the data on the HID proximity cards. This process includes:

  • Configuring the card readers: Setting up the readers to read the specific bit format used on the cards.
  • Setting up the access control software: Guarantee that the software correctly processes the data from the card readers, including handling facility codes, card numbers, and any custom elements.
  • Monitoring and maintenance: Regularly reviewing and updating the bit format settings to accommodate changes in security requirements or organizational needs.

In A Nutshell 

The choice of bit format impacts the security, scalability, compatibility, and customization of the system, making it essential to select the right format based on your organization’s specific needs. Whether using a standard format like the 26-bit Wiegand or a complex format tailored to high-security requirements, careful consideration and proper management of the bit format are key to determining a secure and efficient access control system. 

At Bristol ID Technologies, we offer a variety of HID Prox II cards, from HID 37 bit proximity cards to custom formats. So, get in touch with our representatives and get your HID cards according to your specific needs!


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