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Qatar University to Expand Its RFID System to Track Staff, Mail

The institute is already using a solution from Verasset to manage about 30,000 assets throughout its campus.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 06, 2013

Qatar University is already employing passive EPC Gen 2 ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags and readers to track 30,000 assets across most of the 40 buildings comprising its campus in Doha. This fall, the university plans to extend its use of the technology to track individuals and mail deliveries.

The RFID deployment includes the installation of Impinj xPortal readers on stairways and doorways.
Initially, the school purchased the system—supplied and installed in 2011 by Verasset (formerly Lockwood Worldwide Inc.), a U.S.-based RFID solutions provider—to identify such assets as computer equipment and furnishings during audits. The solution not only ensures that the university maintains an accurate record of which assets are located in which areas, but also reduces the amount of time required to carry out an audit process, from several months down to approximately one week. The college's business operations department will also use the solution to manage the equipment's maintenance schedules.

Now the school hopes to utilize the technology to ensure that the proper mail is delivered quickly, and to provide location data regarding personnel passing through portals for safety purposes. In that way, the university will be able to track which individual takes which asset into or out of a particular building, as well as warn a person before he or she inadvertently enters a segregated area occupied by members of the opposite sex.

Adam Vinecombe, Verasset's service-delivery director
The asset-tracking deployment includes 920 Impinj xPortals—RFID portals made with Speedway R420 RFID readers and integrated Impinj dual linear phased-array antennas (see Impinj Releases Compact High-Performance EPC RFID Portal), as well as 50 Jamison RFID portals equipped with Impinj R220 readers and Laird antennas. The portals are installed at building entrances and exits, as well as at the doorways to each floor and dwelling area. The deployment also includes 10 Convergence Systems Ltd. (CSL) CS101 handheld readers, provided to staff members for auditing processes.

Initially, the school brought Verasset a list of assets to that included about 100,000 items, according to Adam Vinecombe, Verasset's director of service delivery. The firm then worked with the university to reduce that number to 30,000 of the highest-value items, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units, in addition to laptops and other computers. A variety of EPC Gen 2 UHF RFID tags—provided by such vendors as Confidex, Omni-ID and Emerson and Cuming (a Laird Technologies company)—were required, depending on each asset's material (such as steel or plastic) and location. For example, HVAC units on the buildings' roofs (which are tracked for maintenance services) could experience temperatures above 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54 degrees Celsius), which meant a more ruggedized Emerson and Cuming Metaltag Flex tag was necessary, as well as special epoxy to adhere it to the asset (other adhesives would simply not hold up in extreme temperatures). Due to the locations of some buildings and the portals mounted within, Verasset also installed TRENDnet Wi-Fi routers so that portals could transmit read data to the back-end database, while some portals were cabled via an Ethernet cable for a Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) connection.

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