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Employment Services Agency Identifies Personnel and Assets Unobtrusively
Two years after installing a security system that uses ID cards with EPC Gen 2 RFID tags, the company plans further expansion.
Each employee or guest is issued a UHF EPC Gen 2 RFID card from Zebra Technologies, containing the individual's name, title and photograph printed on the front, all printed and encoded on one of two Zebra P330i color card printers. The tags can then be carried in a purse or wallet, or worn around the neck on a lanyard. No matter how a person carries an ID card, the card's passive RFID tag can be read by an Alien or AWID fixed readers at a distance of 3 to 5 feet. In the case of a second-story skyway that leads to the parking garage, interrogators are set with a longer read range—up to 10 feet—to identify people as they pass through the skyway, sometimes in large groups.
RFID readers, in conjunction with sensors used to calculate the number of people in a particular area, were installed at employee entrances, dock doors and the visitor area, where those without tags set off an alert for the company's ambassador, seated at a desk in the lobby area. The ambassador can view a display screen that shows photos of individuals carrying valid ID cards, and indicates when a person has entered without such a card, and thus needs to be greeted.
All readers are wired to the company's back-end system, where Dretison's AccuGuardian software receives the unique ID numbers, links those numbers with data regarding the individual and determines whether he or she is authorized to be in that area. It also stores each action, Renison says, thereby allowing the agency's staff to access reports about traffic patterns or employee activities in what is called the "Breadcrumb Trail" portion of the software.
In addition, AccuGuardian hooks up with the company's DVR system, which records video footage of people entering and exiting certain doorways. If an unauthorized event occurs, such as an individual entering an area where he or she is not permitted, an alert can be sent to the company's management with a link to video footage showing what is occurring at that location. It can determine in which direction an individual is going as he or she passes though a doorway as well, based on the array of RFID interrogator antennas in that location.
"Our biggest concern was making it function but remain hidden," Renison states. To ensure the system remained completely invisible, Dretison installed the readers and antennas in a variety of locations, including in floors, ceilings and walls. In some cases, installing antennas and interrogators in drywall and around metal studs was simply a matter of trial and error, removing or moving hardware that was functioning improperly.
The company has issued 2,500 ID cards to date, and has already begun expanding the system to include assets, having tagged approximately 900 desktop computers and monitors to ensure it can locate those items during inventory checks. The system has been put to use for public safety as well. According to Dretison, when a fire occurred shortly after the building was opened, the system helped management identify where personnel and visitors were located, and helped ensure that the building was properly evacuated.
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