Definition of "Format"
A proximity card stores data. A "format" is the structure of the binary data stored in the card. The number of ones and zeros, and how they are put together, determines the format and ultimately the credential number. When a card is waved in front of a reader, those numbers are sent to the access controller. However, the controller needs to know how the received information is organized., i.e. the format.
For example, if we see a string of numbers, 19395981699, it may mean nothing to us. But, if we know it is a phone number, we immediately understand that 1 is the country code for USA, 939 the area code, and the remaining digits, the phone number. It is evident that knowledge of the format allows to properly decode the data.
The 26 bit Wiegand format is the more widely used. Card manufacturers such as HID, Indala and AWID sell cards with this format to any dealer. This 26 bit format is recognized by all access hardware.
Click here for examples of 26 bit formatted cards
Over the years, formats with a higher number of bits (33, 37, 48, 50) have been added to increase card security.
However, some of the higher bit formats are "proprietary", and usually carry a higher price tag. One exception is the HID 37 bit proprietary format, priced similarly to a 26 bit card.
Technical information link:
Definition of Facility code and serial
Every card has a consecutive serial number programmed, assigned in your access control software to a cardholder. For 26 bit cards, it can go from 0 to 65,535.
But, what if two companies have the same card numbers? They could access each other´s premises.
To reduce this risk, a second number, know as facility or site code is encoded into each card. This number can go from 0 to 255 on a 26 bit format card.
As an example, if Company A has cards numbered from 1 to 1000, with facility code 230, they would be encoded as follows:
230 - 00001
230 - 00002
230 - 00003 .......up to 230 - 01000
Company B could have the same serial numbers, but with facility code 180, and their cards would be:
180 - 00001
180 - 00002
180 - 00003........up to 180 - 01000
To grant access, an access control system validates the facility code AND the serial number. Company A will reject Company B cards, and viceversa, even if they have the same card serial number, because the facility code does not match.
Lately, some formats have a greater number of bits, and make obsolete the notion of facility codes, because the card serial number (like the serial number on currency bills) is never duplicated at the factory. This also means faster delivery of cards, even for add-ons to existing sites, right out of stock.
How can I find the part number, format and facility code?
Look at the information printed on the label of one of the boxes where you received your last batch of cards (see example at right)
If your box is no longer available, for a small fee , we can find the programming specs for you.
Please take a working card sample and e-mail us the small numbers printed near the edge (see example at right for an HID ProxCard II card). We will use this info to check the HID database and locate the format and facility code for you. For security reasons, we will provide this info only to established companies and institutions. We are unable to answer requests coming from free email (Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail...) addresses.
If your installation is new, we can help you to select the format and facility code for you.