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Bags Pack Extra Security Via NFC Tag

The Alert Mobile Security solution uses RFID and a smartphone app that enables law-enforcement agencies, laboratories and other potential users to verify the chain of custody and authenticity of items sealed inside bags.
By Claire Swedberg

For example, Semm developed a solution for the cleaning industry, known as Avantclean, using Ginstr's smartphone app and software to capture and manage NFC read data. In this case, cleaning companies could equip their housekeeping staff with Android-based smartphones, and apply NFC tags within the specific rooms that housekeepers will be cleaning. Each tag's unique ID number is linked to instructions specific to that room for each particular day.

When a housekeeper uses her phone's built-in NFC RFID reader to capture the tag's ID, the phone app receives the ID number and displays icons indicating what needs to be done that day, such as cleaning the chairs in the conference room. In this way, she does not have to remember which tasks need to be carried out each day, but rather can simply refer to the data displayed on her phone. The individual presses the prompts after completing her work, and then taps the phone against the room's tag once more as she leaves. Management can then use this data to not only confirm that the work was done, but also how long she took to complete it, and thus whether some tasks are taking longer than expected, or if some staff members are working inefficiently.

Packaging Horizons' John Gregor
A construction company in the Stuttgart area, Semm says, is employing a Ginstr NFC app to track how many workers are present on a tunneling site for an underground railroad project. Monitoring every worker's location is critical, he explains, due to the possible presence of undetonated World War II-era bombs that could be located during digging. In addition, a wind-turbine maintenance company is using a Ginstr NFC app to create an electronic record of the work its staff performs. Moreover, Ginstr is in the early phases of a deployment for a company in Ethiopia, involving the tracking of bags of harvested tea in fields where workers exchange those bags for tokens that qualify them for cash payments. This system protects the company owner from fraud in the event that a supervisor gives a worker more tokens than he or she has actually earned, and then splits the difference with that individual.

The Alert Mobile Security solution is the latest offering for Ginstr. The company will market the system in Europe, while Packaging Horizons (based in Pennsylvania) will do so in North America. Packaging Horizons sells plastic security bags that are used to protect items like money, evidence, documents or valuables from tampering, and to uniquely identify those items. The bags range in size from 6 inches by 9 inches (152 millimeters by 228 millimeters) to 15 inches by 20 inches (381 millimeters by 508 millimeters). The bag is sealed via an adhesive tape; if someone attempts to open the bag, the tape's color changes and the words "Alert Void" become visible.

Although the bag offers security against tampering, there was no simple way to document that an item was received by a given party at a certain time, says John Gregor, Packaging Horizons' VP and general manager.. That function is now possible, however, thanks to a smartphone app that works in conjunction with a passive NFC RFID tag affixed to the new Alert Security bag via a special adhesive during manufacturing. (Gregor declines to name the make or model of RFID tags used with the new product, saying the company has employed several types of NFC tags.) The tag is encoded with its own unique identifier, as well as the ID number printed on the bag itself, so that a user can confirm that the tag has not been removed from one bag and placed on another. The numbers are then locked in the chip's memory, preventing them from being rewritten.

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