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RFID Takes Root in Bangladesh

Early adopters include Apollo Hospitals Dhaka and the Bangladesh Army.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jan 15, 2008The People's Republic of Bangladesh might be one of the last places you'd expect to see RFID in action. But it actually boasts several implementations, in large part due to a startup RFID hardware provider and systems integrator determined to help modernize the small Southeast Asian country.

Deltech Ltd. was founded in 2005 by Delwar Hossain, a retired Bangladeshi military officer who also spent several years working for a variety of high-tech companies in the United States as a software engineer. Hossain started the company to help spur technology in his native country.

Delwar Hossain
The bulk of Bangladesh's borders are shared with India, except for a small section the country bounded by Myanmar in the far southeast, and by the Bay of Bengal in the south. Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan in 1971, but the country's development has been slowed by political upheavals, including at least four military coups. With 150 million people living in Bangladesh, it is one of the most densely populated nations in the world, much of its population poor and rural.

"Typically, Bangladesh is always among the last few [countries] to start using any technology that is already in use for several years in other developed countries," Hossain explains. "The primary reason is the lack of know-how and, secondly, there's the risk of investment in a new technology." Hossain, however, was determined to create a leading global RFID solution provider, so he began researching the technology and developing a business plan in 2002. "I believe Deltech can contribute to the development and growth of RFID in the world, and to the national development of Bangladesh," he says. Hossain personally funded the company, which today has a total of 15 employees, 11 of which are engineers.

Deltech has already helped several organizations implement RFID. Apollo Hospitals Dhaka, perhaps the most modern hospital in Bangladesh, has just completed the first phase of an RFID project to track employee attendance. RFID interrogators and antennas cull unique ID numbers from RFID-enabled employee badges as doctors, nurses and other employees enter and exit the hospital grounds. Apollo now plans to integrate the attendance tracking system with the hospital's payroll application, and eventually will use RFID to track, in real time, employees' location within the facility, as well as track assets. Apollo is using passive UHF tags containing NXP Semiconductors' Ucode HSL chips. The tags operate at 902-928 MHz and comply with the ISO 18000-6B standard.

The Bangladesh Army plans to employ RFID technology to track soldiers and visitors entering its Dhaka Cantonment via vehicle or on foot. Deltech has developed and demonstrated a prototype for such a system, Hossain says, and the Bangladesh Army Authority has approved it. Since then, the Bangladesh Army has begun purchasing 20,0000 tags consisting of UPM Raflatac DogBone UHF EPC Gen 2 UHF tags, as well as those made with the Ucode HSL chip. The system will also be used to track purchases at the Dhaka Cantonment's retail store.

"This initiative has also [spurred] the [Bangladesh Army's] Special Security Force to implement RFID security systems to control visitors, vehicles and employees in the Presidential Palace and Prime Minister's Office in Bangladesh," says Hossain. "The planning and design part is completed, and now we are waiting to get the final approval to start."

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