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"Digital Link Syntax” - A new #GS1 Standard for Product Authentication

GS1 has recently published their technical guideline for Verification Router service where they intended to provide a simple standardized lightweight messaging framework for verification of saleable return and enables wholesaler/distributor to determine what immediate action should be taken based on authentication check.

Under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act, beginning November 27, 2019, wholesaler distributors are required to verify the product identifier of returned product before placing them into inventory for resale. A manufacturer who receives a verification request from a repackager, wholesale distributor, or dispenser must respond to that request within 24 hours. Supply chain parties are expected to exchange information in “a secure, interoperable, electronic manner in accordance with the standards

 GS1 advances with Digital Link Syntax

First time GS1 standard is including JSON as a message response syntax; it is also the first GS1 “Share” standard to leverage the new GS1 Digital Link (Web URI) standard for the request syntax.

GS1 technical standard to make use of the new GS1 Digital Link syntax in order to enable a basic automated authenticity check of a serialized product identifier with batch and expiry date via a lightweight web-based request/response message pair, initiated by a simple HTTP/HTTPS GET request and returning a lightweight machine-readable response message formatted in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON). 

In current practice, a product is uniquely identified by following elements and encoded in GS1 2D DataMatrix barcode.



The GS1 Digital Link (Web URI) syntax provides an alternative way to express GTIN, serial number, lot/batch and expiry date within a single Web URI format. GS1 element strings can also be translated into a GS1 Digital Link Web URI with the following structure or URI template:{gtin}/lot/{lot}/ser/{ser}?exp={exp}


{gtin}, {exp}, {lot} and {ser} are placeholders for the actual values, such as:

Example E1908672/ser/721234567872?exp=220228

The GS1 Digital Link syntax is simply an alternative way of expressing a concatenation of one or more GS1 element strings but formatted in a way that functions as a web address. It is important to note that the GS1 Digital Link syntax does not require any changes whatsoever to current practices of marking products with GS1 barcodes, whether 1-D or 2-D; pharmaceutical packages will continue to be marked using GS1 DataMatrix symbols that encode the four elements above.

As part of the adoption strategy for GS1 Digital Link, GS1 is currently developing free open source translation functions (in JavaScript, PHP and Java) that will enable translation between GS1 element strings and the GS1 Digital Link / Web URI syntax, in both directions. This can then be included within the software / firmware of barcode scanners or further downstream, within information systems, so that the GS1 Digital Link / Web URI syntax can always be generated on demand, whenever it is required, without requiring any change to how GS1 identifiers are currently encoded and marked on product packaging. In other words, it will be possible to scan a set of four element strings (GTIN, Lot/Batch, Serial Number and Expiry Date) from an existing GS1 DataMatrix barcode on a product package, and have that GS1 element string translated into a GS1 Digital Link Web URI format whenever it is useful to do so.

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