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Alien Earns Protection Under SAFETY Act

Alien Technology this week announced that their solutions related to baggage and cargo tracking have been granted protection under the SAFETY Act in the event of an act of terrorism. RFID Update spoke with Alien's Ronny Haraldsvik about the SAFETY Act and what it offers both Alien and other RFID vendors.
Aug 09, 2007This article was originally published by RFID Update.

August 9, 2007—RFID products and services provider Alien Technology this week announced that their solutions related to baggage and cargo tracking have been granted protection under the SAFETY Act in the event of an act of terrorism. The company has deployed such solutions at airports around the world. RFID Update spoke with Ronny Haraldsvik, Alien's vice president of marketing and industry relations, about the SAFETY Act and what it offers both Alien and other RFID vendors.

The SAFETY Act was passed by the US government after 9-11 out of concern that companies would avoid developing important homeland security technologies and solutions for fear of liability in the event of a terror attack at locations where their products were deployed. The SAFETY Act offers qualifying companies protection from excessive liability in such cases, thereby removing the disincentive for companies to develop much-needed anti-terror- and homeland security-related solutions.

Raymond Biagini of the Product Liability defense practice at national law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge and a primary architect of the SAFETY Act recently asserted that the protection it offers is highly pertinent to RFID vendors (see How the SAFETY Act Could Protect RFID Vendors).

Alien's Haraldsvik agrees. "The SAFETY Act is something we've been monitoring for quite some time," he said, noting that the protections extend not just to Alien itself, but also to its partners and customers. "We determined that SAFETY Act protection is a very important step for Alien, but also to let our customers know that our solution in this space protects them as well." The result is competitive advantage, since both customers and channel partners are likely to choose a protected solution over one that is not.

Defense is one of Alien's four vertical focuses, so the company stays abreast of relevant laws and government initiatives. "There are all sorts of certifications and designations vendors can earn when dealing with the government, but this is probably one of the most important ones," said Haraldsvik.

Despite that, the RFID industry as a whole has been slow to pursue SAFETY Act protection. McKenna Long & Aldridge's Biagini told RFID Update that there is a general lack of awareness among RFID vendors. Haraldsvik speculated that a lack of resources is probably to blame, given the relatively small size of many vendors. "It can be hard for any small company, like many in the RFID space, to be fully aware of all the things that are going on with the government and its certifications." That said, once a vendor has decided to pursue SAFETY Act protection, the process is pretty straightforward. "It's just a matter of giving it the necessary focus and resources," said Haraldsvik.

Alien offers baggage and cargo tracking through its wholly-owned subsidiary Quatrotec, which Alien acquired last May. Quatrotec focuses on safety and security solutions related to the transportation market, and in fact Alien bought the company for the express purpose of gaining a foothold in that market.

Alien is bullish on near-term opportunities in transportation, according to Haraldsvik, and believes it offers a comprehensive, SAFETY Act-protected portfolio that includes everything from RFID baggage track-and-trace to bomb detection. He pointed to the bill signed just last week by US President George W. Bush that requires screening of all cargo on passenger planes within three years and screening of all US-bound shipping cargo within five years. "We are going to see significant acceleration in the transportation segment, especially airports, in the next six to nine months," predicted Haraldsvik.
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