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Senate Staffers Get Up to Speed on RFID

The first meeting of the Senate RFID Caucus covered a wide variety of business and public-policy issues.
By Mark Roberti
Jul 17, 2006The recently announced Senate RFID Caucus (see U.S. Senators Initiate RFID Caucus) held its first meeting in the Hart Senate Building on July 13. The program included an introduction by Senator Byron Dorgan (Dem—North Dakota) and Senator John Cornyn (Rep—Texas), who launched the caucus, followed by a panel discussion on business and public policy issues related to radio frequency identification. From what people told me after the event, it seemed to be a success.

The goal of the caucus, which now includes Senators Bob Bennett of Utah and George Allen of Virginia, is to help educate senators—which means their aides—on RFID and public-policy issues surrounding the use of the technology in government, commercial and consumer applications. (The U.S. House of Representatives is covering RFID in its Internet Caucus.)

This first meeting was to start the education process by raising some of the key issues. Dorgan opened the proceedings saying, “RFID is an emerging technology with policy implications...RFID promises dramatic benefits in areas as diverse as national security, food and drug safety, and supply chain management, and the United States needs to be at the forefront of its development and implementation."

The panel I hosted included Paul Chang, an associate partner at IBM Business Consulting Services; Brian Cute, vice president of government relations at VeriSign; Daniel W. Engels, director of the Texas Radio Frequency Innovation and Technology Center at the University of Texas at Arlington; Mike Liard, an RFID market researcher at ABI Research; Kathy Smith, special assistant in the Office of Supply Chain Integration at the U.S. Department of Defense; and Patrick Sweeney, CEO of ODIN Technologies.

The panel touched on many issues, including the benefits the DOD has been seeing from RFID; the existing and expected future benefits for consumers; the ability to use RFID to enhance homeland security; how the competitiveness of the United States, vis-à-vis Asia and Europe, could be affected by RFID; ongoing research in the United States; and current efforts to regulate and/or promote RFID at the state and federal levels.

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