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NATO Samples New GPS-Based Tags, Expands Active RFID Use

Nations and partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can now purchase SCT Technology's active RFID- and GPS-based hardware and software directly from the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, as its use of wireless technologies to track containers, palletized goods and vehicles throughout the supply chain grows.
By Claire Swedberg

More recently, another tag technology has been tested as well. SCT is offering the Savi IoT (Interrogator or Transponder) Sensor. The sensor—model STR-900—provides GPS data transmitted via cellular GPRS networks. It has a built-in 433 MHz RFID reader and forwards RFID- and GPS-based data to the CMA system. "This mobile sensor offers users the ability to replace fixed reader infrastructure with a device that can read and report, with a GPS location, up to 100 active RFID tags," Gill states.

In that way, NATO can identify where goods are located between RFID read points, enabling the agency to have real-time location data in the field. The battery-powered tags, like standard active RFID tags, can be latched to a container, serving as a seal and an identifier. CMA can also be used to set up geofences, so that if assets are moved into areas where they are not expected to be, or are outside of the proper route, an alert can be issued to authorized personnel.

In the meantime, Savi active RFID readers can be set up at key locations, such as at receiving warehouses, even on a temporary basis. When a container's tag is captured via an RFID interrogator, the software automatically identifies that it has arrived at its destination.

The new IoT sensors are being tested by the Canadian and British militaries. While RFID provides location data capture in fixed areas, GPS can expand the view of goods shipped around the world. "The addition of GPS data," Gill reports, "has allowed us to massively improve the value of asset tracking to our military customers in NATO."

This year, SCT Technology plans to release a smartphone app that would enable users to provide instant checkpoint reads back to the CMA server, and to access data regarding tagged assets. "In this era of BYOD [bring your own device]," Gill says, "we've had a lot of interest and requests for using smartphones" for this purpose.

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