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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

A person would place a DNA sample or other item into the bag, enter data about that item into the Alert Mobile Security app running on his or her Android-based phone, and use the phone's built-in NFC function to read the ID numbers encoded to the bag's tag. This could be done, for instance, in the field when a crime investigation is underway and sampling is taking place. That data could then be received by the software (via a cellular or Wi-Fi connection from the phone), which other individuals—such as the manager of an investigation, or lab personnel—could access and view. If the user chose, the software could be integrated with that user's own evidence-management software.

According to Gregor, the variety of use cases has been growing as the two companies have been speaking with potential end users, including their own existing customers. "Most applications are chain of custody," he says, "in which something is moving from one point to another." Ginstr and Packaging Horizons are initially marketing the technology to the law-enforcement and forensics-lab sectors, he adds.

Ginstr's Markus Semm
All of Ginstr's NFC apps, including Alert Mobile Security, can be accessed via the Ginstr Launcher app, and are available for a 30-day free-trial period at the Google Play website. The apps will not be marketed for iOS systems, Semm says, because even if Apple were to release an open version of the NFC technology built into its latest iPhones, most Ginstr app users would not want to pay the price of an iPhone for each workers. The Ginstr Launcher and the various apps, including Alert Mobile Security, are available in English as well as in German.

Ginstr has generally created its apps based on customer requests. The firm charges €790 ($899) to develop or customize an app according of a user's needs. On the other hand, if a customer wants to use an app that Ginstr has already developed, Ginstr charges only a one-time license fee of €49 euros ($55) per phone, and includes the use of the Ginstr Administration software. One example of a complimentary app for the Alert Mobile Security security-bag solution is the "witness statement" app, which is basically a questionnaire containing 40-plus questions for witnesses whom a police officer might meet at a crime scene while collecting forensic material.

In either case, Ginstr charges a monthly fee of €10 ($11.40) to €15 ($17) to store and process app-generated data in the Ginstr cloud. Pricing for the security bags varies according to the sizes and volume being purchased. If a customer so requests, Packaging Horizons and Ginstr can also provide NFC tags that could be applied directly to products that would then be tracked by the Alert Mobile Security app. The make and model of the supplied NFC tags would vary depending on the specific application requirements.

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