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Police Test RFID-enabled Badges

Two U.S. police departments are testing a radio frequency identification system to manage badge inventory and beef up department security.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 10, 2006Police departments in South Carolina and Massachusetts are testing a radio frequency identification system to manage badge inventory and department security better. Both are testing the SmartShield system, which consists of officer badges with embedded RFID chips and a records management software application known as Enforcement Identification (Eid).

Developed and marketed by V.H. Blackinton & Co., SmartShield can be used to track badges as they leave a storage area for assignment to officers. RFID interrogators (readers) are not included in the package, but by the time the system becomes commercially available in August, they might be, according V.H. Blackinton's John Domurad, director of research and development. "They're in development," he says.


V.H. Blackinton's John Domurad
Captain Doug Connelly of the South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCDPS) says he first approached Blackinton about five years ago for a better inventory control solution to identify missing badges. "We had had several incidents where badges were stolen or lost and eventually turned up in other states," he says.

What the department needed was a way to track a badge as it was assigned to an officer, and to link that badge to that particular officer. Historically, each badge comes with an ID number embossed right on the badge, and most departments link that number with the officer on paper and in their internal records. This can be a difficult task, especially since many officers carry up to four different badges. If a badge turns up in another state, for example, it can be a difficult for departments to follow its paper trail to determine whose badge it is.

Each SmartShield badge is embedded with a passive 13.56 MGH RFID tag, which complies with the ISO-14443 standard and is encoded with a unique ID number. The South Carolina Highway Patrol badges initially used the Eid software to enter badges into the department's personnel attendance-tracking and access-control administration software system, created by Galaxy Technologies. The Eid software acts as a bridge between the badge and a department's SQL-based record management system, such as the one from Galaxy, and can run in conjunction with any ISO 14443-compliant access-control systems.

The agency is using Datastrip's DSVII-SC handheld interrogators, running Windows CE.Net. The DSVII-SC, installed at entry points at the headquarters in Charleston, reads bar codes, magnetic strips and RFID chips. The DSVII-SC communicates wirelessly with the police department's database. However, any ISO 14443-compliant RFID interrogator can be used with the SmartShield system.

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