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RFID Helps Land-Surveying Agency Chart an Efficient Course

Taiwan's National Land Surveying and Mapping Center has gained visibility into each of its 200,000 maps so that they can be accessed by individuals who need to borrow or copy them.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 10, 2016

Taiwan's National Land Surveying and Mapping Center (NLSC) is using radio frequency identification technology to locate land-survey maps at its central facility in Taichung. Although mapping is now being carried out electronically, with digital versions available for those who need them, paper maps are the only record for surveys completed before 1989.

More than 200,000 paper cadastral maps, which show property boundaries, are stored at the facility and accessed for such situations as lawsuits, legal disputes and real-estate sales. The maps are placed in binders and stacked on shelves until needed. The system, provided by EPC Solutions Taiwan, includes handheld and fixed RFID readers, passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) tags, an RFID printer-encoder, and software to manage the collected read data and forward that information to the agency's existing management software.

The NLSC attached an Alien Technology ALN-9720 tag near the spine of each map's binder.
Maintaining cadastral records has been a complex and, at times, disorganized issue for Taiwan, since the boundaries of privately owned land within that nation have been redrawn multiple times throughout and following several occupations. Boundaries were surveyed and drawn during the Japanese occupation before and during World War II, and most of the land was later resurveyed. As a result, the boundaries have become a source of legal conflict as descendants inherit or sell land that has been surveyed multiple times with varying results. The NLSC, established in 1947, has been surveying, inspecting and digitally mapping the island's 3.6 million hectares of land ever since. Approximately three percent of that land still needs to be surveyed in order to complete the cadastral mapping.

Locating the paper maps when they are needed poses a challenge, says T.H. Liu, EPC Solutions Taiwan's president. Originally, the agency sorted and stored maps according to drawing numbers, but it was unable to conduct inventory checks to ensure that all maps were present, since it simply took too long to open every map's binder and compare its drawing number with what was listed. The agency approached EPC Solutions Taiwan to create an RFID-based system that would make it possible to easily locate a map, conduct regular inventory checks and record when someone borrowed or returned a map.

EPC Solutions Taiwan helped the agency encode RFID tags on a Zebra Technologies R110Xi4 printer-encoder. Altogether, the two companies processed more than 200,000 Alien Technology ALN-9720 tags, which were then attached to the top corner of a map and to the binder in which they were stored. Maps typically measure 30 by 40 centimeters (11.8 to 15.7 inches) in size, though some measure 60 by 80 centimeters (23.6 to 31.5 inches). According to Liu, the company tested the read rate before tagging, to determine the best location for a tag to be attached to a binder or map. The firm opted for the top of the map or binder, where the tag could be closest to the handheld readers as personnel walked by holding them in front of the shelves. The tags were attached via an acid-free glue, Liu explains, so as to protect the documents.

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