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RFID Helps Mexican University Retain, Maintain Equipment

Regiomontana is using active tags to prevent the theft of laptops and projectors, and to help keep them properly maintained.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 19, 2007Regiomontana University (UR), located in Monterrey, Mexico, is employing an RFID system to track laptops and video projectors in its 115 classrooms, as well as monitor the maintenance of those projectors and reduce theft. In a typical year, the college had been suffering about $15,000 in theft of its assets—primarily the projectors or laptops stationed in each classroom.

The college is growing quickly, says Roberto Ivon, UR's director of technology, and theft had become an increasing problem. "We wanted to stop theft, and we were having a tough time tracking the movement of our assets," he says, adding that thefts were occurring almost "in the blink of an eye, and we had to figure out how to secure the laptops and projectors."

Ben Donohue
In addition, the necessary maintenance of the projectors was sporadic and hard to predict. Projector lamps needed replacement at differing times, and old lamps often died just when a projector was needed during a class.

In 2006, Ivon began searching for an active RFID solution, and met with RFID systems integrator IDZ, based in Monterrey, Mexico. The solution he and IDZ developed required approximately eight months of testing and installation before full deployment for the fall 2006 semester. Designed and integrated by IDZ, the system uses IDZ enterprise software to interpret data from interrogators and send alerts in the event of an invalid asset movement. It also employs RFID tags, interrogators and middleware from Axcess, a Texas provider of RFID systems that use active (battery-powered) tags.

Each laptop and projector is tagged with a dual-frequency active RFID tag encoded with a unique ID number. That number is entered into the UR database, where it is linked to a description of the asset, the classroom in which it belongs, the building zones in which it is permitted to be and, in the case of projectors, the next scheduled maintenance date.

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