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Bob Jones University Raises the Bar With RFID

The university is using a passive RFID system to monitor vehicles entering and exiting its main parking lot, and to operate an automated gate system.
By Claire Swedberg
The group accomplished the longer read range by shortening the coaxial cable connecting the reader to the antennas. It also worked on positioning the antennas and finding the best tag location on the windshields. In addition, the team was able to increase the read range by using quarter-inch-thick adhesive tape to raise the Intermec IT32A EPC Gen 2 tag off the vehicles' glass windshields. This, alone, doubled the distance of the read range, Litzenberger says, adding, "It was a real design triumph." Testing began in May, and the RFID reader system was fully deployed within the concrete columns by Aug. 13.

Currently, 2,900 faculty, staff and students enter and exit the campus on a regular basis. As a motorist enters or leaves the parking lot, the vehicle's tag ID number is captured by the reader and transmitted through a cabled connection to BJU's intranet server, so that BJU can track data to better understand parking volumes, length of stay and other metrics. Regan designed the automated gating system; the RFID interrogator reads the decal, verifies it and sends instructions to the gate regarding whether to open.

The cost of the system, Litzenberger says, including installation, antennas, readers, tags and software, was equivalent to the cost of one two-year cycle of the active tags previously purchased, minus other hardware or software. "That was a no-brainer for us," he states.

BJU also employs an Intermec mobile computer and IP4 handheld readers so campus police can verify tags on vehicles parked in the lot.

"This was a combination of good products and a good team of systems engineers," says Chris Kelley, Intermec's director of RFID and data capture, who describes the results as "a marriage of standard equipment and technical services." Kelley notes that the engineering and design work accomplished by Intermec, Regan and BJU was the success story behind this implementation.

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