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RFID Gives Richardson, Tex., Officers More Time for Police Work

The department has been using GlobeRanger's GR-AWARE software to track weapons and electronic equipment fitted with Xerafy RFID tags.
By Beth Bacheldor
Apr 04, 2013

In an effort to improve efficiencies, reduce costs and better secure its uniforms, weapons and other law-enforcement gear, the Richardson Police Department (RPD), in Texas, is employing a RFID-enabled asset-tracking solution. In the months since the system's implementation, the department has cut approximately a half hour from the time that it takes to verify all equipment within a squad car at the start and end of a shift—30 minutes that each officer can now use to patrol the streets. Not only is the system improving police work, but the department estimates that it saves about $9,000 per car annually in terms of labor costs and improved inefficiencies.

The police department is utilizing a solution developed by GlobeRanger that features its GR-AWARE PD software. GR-AWARE (GlobeRanger Asset Watching and Reporting Engine) is built on GlobeRanger's iMotion platform (available as both an on-premises and cloud-based solution), and is designed to work with a variety of RFID and/or bar-code hardware. GR-AWARE PD is tailored for police departments, explains Eric Pearson, GlobeRanger's director of engineering, but the company also offers a GR-AWARE solution suitable for a broader range of industries, including retail, as well as a GR-AWARE FD version for fire departments. In addition, the firm offers GR-AWARE Hazmat, designed for the hazardous materials industry and currently being used by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The RPD is using Xerafy tags to track the radar guns and other equipment it issues to its officers.

The RPD has attached a variety of Xerafy's ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen RFID 2 tags to its equipment, as well as sewn washable laundry tags from Fujitsu Frontech North America into the uniforms, Pearson says. Due to the demanding, read-on-metal requirements, GlobeRanger enlisted Xerafy to help it identify the best tags and adhesives for the RPD project. Among the Xerafy tags chosen for the RPD are the Dot-On XS tags, used on cell phones; the Dash-On XS tags, utilized for tracking voice recorders; and the Pico series and NanoX II tags, used on a variety of other assets. For handguns and other items requiring low-profile tags, the department is employing Xerafy's Titanium Metal Skin, a small, thin on-metal RFID label measuring 1.77 inches by 0.22 inch by 0.03 inch (45 millimeters by 5.6 millimeters by 0.8 millimeter). The Titanium Metal Skin is made with Impinj's Monza 5 chip, offering a serialized 48-bit tag ID and 128 bits of user memory, and can be printed with a bar code or human-readable text.

According to Pearson, all of the tags were pre-encoded with a unique serial number and were permanently attached to assets. For example, he says, the shotguns within each patrol car have Xerafy Titanium Metal Skin tags permanently sealed inside the stocks, where they are out of the way, while rifles have Xerafy Versa Trak tags sealed in the receivers. Recently, the department expanded its use of RFID to track all of its city-owned office and IT equipment, including printers, computers, chairs, desks and more. For those assets, UHF EPC Gen 2 tags supplied by Avery Dennison have been affixed directly to each item's surface. In total, the department is currently utilizing more than 6,000 RFID tags.

The Richardson Police Department commenced its use of RFID in September 2011, as part of an initiative to track uniforms and ensure that they did not end up in the wrong hands. That project was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Pearson says. However, the department quickly determined that expanding the initiative to all police gear made sense, and within a month, many of the assets were tagged. Seamstresses were set up to sew in the laundry tags, he explains, while GlobeRanger established a team to tag items in assembly-line fashion. The staging took approximately two weeks, and included almost all equipment assigned to officers and cars, including citation printers, shotguns, handguns, radar units and uniforms. GlobeRanger integrated its software with the department's human resources (HR) system, as well as with an employee ID access system leveraging high-frequency (HF) RFID tags embedded in ID cards.

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