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Recall Uses RFID to Make Records Auditing Possible

Document and records management company Recall Corp. says its new RFID-based audit system is an industry first. It not only makes complete audits of millions of records practical, it can help firms meet a variety of documentation requirements mandated by regulations like SOX, HIPAA, GLBA, and FACTA.
Feb 28, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

February 28, 2007—Recall Corporation, which provides document lifecycle management services to more than 75,000 worldwide customers, has developed an RFID system for identifying cartons of records that the company says makes auditing stored records practical for the first time.

"The problem in the industry now is that auditing is just too labor intensive and expensive," Jon Poole, Recall's North American quality and standards manager told RFID Update. "Industry wide, it's physically impossible to efficiently conduct audits. Plus, the procedures are error prone and extremely time consuming."

Recall currently identifies cartons of records it stores for customers with a 10-digit alphanumeric bar code. Cartons are stacked three deep on shelves in its storage facilities.

"A typical facility has one million documents in storage. To do an audit with bar coding, we would have to pull out each carton from the rack and scan it. It would take about five years to complete an audit. With our RFID system, we can do it in two weeks," Poole said.

Following a successful trial, Recall installed the system at a facility in Boston and plans to deploy it in upwards of 30 U.S. cities plus locations in Australia and Europe. To deploy, Recall applies a large EPC Gen2 smart label to each records carton. The company produces the labels on demand with an RFID printer/encoder and encodes them only with the 10-digit number that its applications are based on. No customer information is encoded in the smart label. To audit record locations and identify cartons, an employee walks through the storage aisle with a handheld RFID reader.

Recall plans to audit records twice a year. The information could help customers satisfy certain regulatory requirements for records management, including Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA).

"Our pilot program demonstrated to us the potential for RFID technology to transform our industry, and the response from our blue-ribbon client roster has been overwhelming," Russell Skinner, Recall's vice president of global integration, said in the company's announcement. Recall announced a law firm, construction company, energy company, and financial institution have already contracted to have their future records inventories tagged with RFID.

Recall worked with Texas-based RFID development and systems integration firm Venture Research to develop the system. Collaboration included testing different frequencies and tag types, building optimal readers, and modifying Recall's legacy software to accept RFID input. Poole said the system will give Recall a significant competitive advantage, so the company will not disclose technical details or the specific RFID equipment involved. Poole said the system was modified for use in Australia and Europe to meet the different wireless spectrum regulations there.

"Developing the ability to read RFID labels on cartons stacked three deep, with a lot of metal and concrete, was very challenging," said Poole. "There is a lot of cardboard to read through. Getting a read on the third carton was a real challenge. That's why we went with a large-format label."

Poole said Recall and Venture are also exploring technologies and applications for identifying individual files, but for now Recall will concentrate on deploying the carton auditing system to major markets. Recall manages 250 information centers on five continents.

The use of RFID for records management made news earlier this month when MedicAlert, a non-profit foundation with four million members, announced it would conduct a trial using RFID ID cards to give members kiosk access to their medical records (see RFID Cures Medical Records Access). But there has been relatively little recent news about records and document management applications. Industry forecasters and researchers are generally bullish on RFID adoption for asset tracking, but have not specifically identified documents and records management as high-growth areas, which may lend some credence to Recall's claim that its system is a true industry first.
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