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Army Tests RFID for Access Control

A test in New Jersey is part of an ongoing effort to become more efficient without sacrificing security.
Jan 14, 2003Jan. 15, 2003 - The U.S. Army has hired TransCore, a Dallas company that makes RFID transportation systems, to establish a testbed for access control technology at Fort Monmouth, NJ, for the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command's Research, Development & Engineering Center. The system will use TransCore's passive UHF eGo RFID tag for automatic vehicle identification.
TransCore's Brosi

"This is a test site that has high visibility," says Scott Brosi, area vice president for secure facilities. "So the army is planning to use it to show top brass what can and can't be done."

The system was set up in ten days in November. Vehicles with clearance to enter the facility had eGo tags placed on their windshields. When the cars approach the research center, they pull up to a simple tilt-arm gate. An RFID reader identifies the vehicle and the gate opens. The car then proceeds to a common access card reader, where the driver is identified using existing technology.

The application is fairly straightforward and is similar to access control systems that TransCore has installed for gated communities. The military is running a number of similar tests to determine what combinations of technologies provide the most effective security measures.

Some tests are using video cameras to identify cars. Others tie the vehicle license plate to a personal identity card, so that someone can't sneak into a facility in a stolen car. The military is also looking to replace ID badges that identify personnel to everyone, including terrorists.

"The military is looking to utilize technology to allow them to focus their human resources on more important things," says Brosi. "They want to automate the access control process as much as possible without sacrificing security."

Brosi says the automatic vehicle identification technology is fairly inexpensive. Installing readers and the software for access control is no more expensive than setting up a lane for automatic toll collection. The eGo tags cost about $10 each, less if purchased in large quantities. The eGo tag is designed to be a cost-effective alternative to active (battery -powered) tags.

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