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BlogsAsk The Experts ForumCan RFID Track More Than a Million Individuals at a Time?

Can RFID Track More Than a Million Individuals at a Time?

Posted By RFID Journal, 08.20.2012
What is the feasibility of monitoring such a large group of people over a 20-square-mile area during a three-day event, using some sort of radio frequency identification solution?

—Name withheld

The answer depends on the event's set-up, as well as what you hope to achieve—or, more specifically, the data you wish to capture. If the 20 square miles contain a variety of areas, each with its own gate, it would be fairly easy to deploy readers at each entry and exit point, give every person a tag and track which participants are located within each area. If, on the other hand, your deployment involves one large, open field, and if you need to track everyone's precise real-time location, that would be doable but enormously expensive.

The first solution would involve installing portals at every entry and exit, which would probably require that you rent passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) or high-frequency (HF) readers. You would need a million tags priced at about $1 each, so figure $1 million for the tags in total, and I would budget another $250,000 or so for renting and configuring the interrogators and setting up servers to collect data. You would also, of course, need to power the readers, which could increase the cost if power was not easily accessible.

The second solution would involve using active tags with either GPS functionality or the ability to connect to a cell network. These would cost $100 or so apiece, raising the price to more than $100 million. What's more, you might also need to set up some readers and servers. If you have that kind of money to spend, you might want to look into providing each person with a GPS device.

If any of RFID Journal's readers have alternative solutions to suggest, please post information below. Thanks.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor,
RFID Journal

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