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Largest RFID File-Tracking System Goes Live in Qatar

The new system in place at Qatar Public Prosecution replaces an existing RFID solution to provide greater coverage with fewer readers, and to offer fast data capture, storage of data if a network goes down and real-time alerts in the event of unauthorized case file removals.
By Claire Swedberg

As a file moves around the facility, its location is updated as each reader antenna captures its tag ID number. A typical floor contains 26 offices, eight elevators and four sets of stairs. Four Feig readers accommodate each floor with 40 antennas and 40 read points. That means the OGTech middleware captures the files' locations as they enter the floor and are moved into an office. The system captures each specific office, elevator, stairwell or corridor that the files enter or leave, as well as how long they remain at that location.

The Feig readers reduce the amount of RFID-based data traffic, Mohamed reports, by being programmed to send a specific tag ID to the middleware only once, so that if a tag remains in a given area within range of a specific antenna, it will not be continuously interrogated. Additionally, he says, the Feig readers provide reliability even if the network temporarily goes down. The readers can store up to 1,700 data sets (read events) in the event that the facility's back-end system fails, and then forward that data once the system comes back online.

OGTech and QPP also designed a solution for faster alerting at the building's entrance and exit. Each tag comes with four digits dedicated to the tag's security status, in addition to the 20-digit RFID number. With the OGTech solution, Mohamed explains, those four digits are set at 0000 by default and, for the security solution, indicate that the file must not leave the building.

In some cases, officers need to access files and are permitted to remove them from the premises. To update the status of such files, QPP officers use a Feig desktop reader to change the four 0s to 1s, thereby indicating that the file mays leave, and that no alert is necessary.

When the tagged files are moved through the door of the building, the readers capture not only the 20-digit ID numbers but also the four-digit authorization codes. The reader detects any that are still in the 0s mode, and an alert is immediately sounded. This process ensures that the alert will sound more quickly than if the data had to be sent to back-end software to be interpreted. There are ten such security read portals at building exits, including at the emergency exits. "We did a lot of analysis work with all the departments," Mohamed explains, "to get the best match for their workflow."

The system is also capable of providing historical data that can help management understand the flow of files and legal cases throughout the facility. For instance, the system tracks how long a given file spends at each location, so that management can evaluate the average time files spend at specific areas and offices, and thereby identify potential bottlenecks.

For future phases of the deployment, the office plans to use the RFID system to track assets, such as laptop computers and other electronics. The technology will also be used with RFID-enabled staff badges to track the arrival, movements and departure of every individual working onsite. Finally, the solution will ultimately enable visitor badges to be assigned to those who are onsite temporarily. The courthouses will eventually migrate to the new solution as well, Mohamed says, though a specific timeline for future deployment has not yet been determined.

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