Have you ever found yourself tripping a department store alarm system because the cashier who checked you out failed to deactivate a tag on one of your items? If so, you have first-hand experience with radio frequency ID (RFID) technology. RFID is fairly common technology that has been around for decades.
Interestingly, it has taken a long time for fire and police services to seriously look at RFID’s capabilities. But now that they are, they are also discovering the technology can help them in a lot of different ways.
1. Asset Management
Asset management is one of the easiest areas in which to deploy RFID technology. A basic RFID system can be built on three components: a transmitter, a sensor (receiver), and software to process the data transmitters and sensors produce. It is really just that simple.
Department stores use RFID technology to track inventory. Every tagged item is outfitted with either a passive or active transmitter containing data about that item. Alarm systems utilize sensors to receive data from inventory tags. Every time a customer exits the store, the tags and sensors communicate to verify that all items have been paid for.
Fire and police agencies can use a similar system to track all of their assets. Police agencies can track their weapons, riot gear, computers, and so forth. Fire departments can track everything from hoses to the jaws of life.
2. Managing Evidence
Another one of the many RFID applications is managing evidence within police departments. RFID works so well in this regard that it can make evidence rooms much more secure. Every bit of evidence that is stored in an evidence room can be tracked at all times. This reduces the possibility of evidence being lost, destroyed, or intentionally mishandled.
3. Access Control
Today’s fire and police agencies have to be aggressive about controlling access to their facilities. It is unfortunate that things have to be this way, but that is the world we live in. As such, access control has become a top priority. RFID technology can be part of it.
Buildings can be outfitted with RFID systems capable of granting and denying access on multiple levels. General access can be granted to those who need to get into public and general use spaces. Access can be more tightly managed to control traffic in and out of sensitive or secure areas.
The beauty of using an RFID system for access control is that it can be very specific. Just like computer networks can be controlled through permissions, building access can be controlled by programming the equivalent of permissions into RFID sensors.
4. Tracking Personnel
Rock West Solutions, a California company specializes in RFID applications, says one of the more exciting areas of development right now is using the technology to track personnel. As RFID technology matures, systems are able to track signals over greater distances. This is important for both fire and police services.
Imagine being able to track firefighters as they move through a building during an active fire. Likewise, a similar system could track personnel inside a county jail or police officers as they move through a large courthouse. The possibilities are virtually endless.
RFID technology has come a long way in recent years. As it has grown up, it has opened the doors to many more applications in the first responder arena. As such, fire departments and police agencies around the country are adopting RFID systems to track their assets, protect evidence, control access, and track personnel.