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Bags Pack Extra Security Via NFC Tag

The Alert Mobile Security solution uses RFID and a smartphone app that enables law-enforcement agencies, laboratories and other potential users to verify the chain of custody and authenticity of items sealed inside bags.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 27, 2015

German mobile app and software company Ginstr has teamed up with Packaging Horizons, a U.S. manufacturer of plastic security bags, to market a tamper-evident secure bag employing Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology to track the chain of custody of important items, such as forensic evidence or lab specimens.

The solution, known as Alert Mobile Security, is intended to manage items that may have a high security concern. Users can employ the NFC reader built into their phones, or a dedicated high-frequency (HF) RFID reader, to capture the unique ID number of the tag built into the secure bag. That ID can then be viewed via the Ginstr app on a smartphone. Alternatively, the user can run the Ginstr Administration software on a computer to access the data residing on a cloud-based server.

An NFC RFID tag affixed to the Alert Mobile Security bag is permanently encoded with its own unique identifier, as well as the ID number printed on the bag itself, so that the user can confirm that the tag has not been removed from one bag and placed on another.
Ginstr focuses on solutions designed to eliminate the need for paperwork by workers in the field. Its apps are used to create GPS-based timestamps and electronic signatures, and to enable the tracking of workflow efficiency via mobile phones. Approximately two years ago, the company began offering NFC-based solutions to allow its customers' workers to capture or share data from the field by tapping NFC phones against tags, according to Markus Semm, Ginstr's mobile app developer.

The Berlin company sells RFID-based solutions for hospital bed inventory tracking, library checkout, and attendance tracking at chemical plants, mines and construction sites. It also offers RFID-enabled apps for tracking security guard tours, as well as for fire extinguisher or smoke detector maintenance and inspection, and another that helps home-health-care nurses manage their patient visits and tasks. In each scenario, the system consists of an app that can be purchased for each phone or tablet device for a flat fee, in addition to a monthly charge for access to cloud-based software, which can also be integrated with a user's existing management software.

"It turns out that the NFC functionality is being highly appreciated," Semm says, adding that his company's customers find that the technology provides an easy way to capture or send data from a specific location. The NFC-based app's functions could be as simple as identifying that a security guard has reported to a room or building, he says, or could be much more complex.

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