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RFID Seals Provide Border Security in Eastern Europe
Kazakhstan and Lithuanian customs officials are using electronic seals to ensure truck cargo doors are not opened en route.
The Hi-G-Tek truck door seals with embedded RFID tags—which transmit at two frequencies: 433 MHz for long distance, 125 kHz for short range—fit over the handles of the truck door and seal it shut. Typically, the RFID chips have 10 kilobytes of memory. The tag on the seal transmits an alert in the event that the seal has been tampered with. In addition, it can send other data, such as the identity of the truck and driver, the type of cargo being transported, and, in some cases, the entire manifest.
After a truck arrives at customs at one of several Kazak border crossings, a Kazak customs agent inspects the vehicle. The doors are then closed and secured with an e-seal, says Micha Auerbach, Hi-G-Tek's founder and CTO. Agents use a handheld device provided by Hi-G-Tek to capture the unique ID number on the seal's RFID tag and transmit that data wirelessly to the customs agency's back-end system. The NTC data-management software enables customs agents to track cargo, store data about the shipments as they cross the country, and receive alerts if a seal has been tampered with.
Customs agents can also use the handheld device to write data to the tag such as the driver's name and truck ID, as well as the date and time an inspection occurred. After a sealed truck leaves customs, it travels across the country—mostly west to Russia, and in some cases east to China, along trade routes that were historically part of the Silk Road once traveled by camels and horses. In this case, Hi-G-Tek interrogators—known as outdoor data readers—are installed every 50 kilometers (31 miles) along the highway.
These fixed readers capture the tag's data via 433 MHz transmission, and utilize GPRS connections to transmit that information to the customs agency's back-end system. If the seal is tampered with at any point along the route, the agency receives an alert from the next interrogator that reads the tag, and can then dispatch a local government officer to stop the truck. Most cargo travels west from China, but empty trucks returning to that country are also sealed to prevent smuggling.
Although Lithuania is much smaller than Kazakhstan, it also sought a better way of ensuring no unauthorized person opens cargo doors of trucks passing through. The country shares borders with Latvia, Belarus, Poland and the Russian enclave of the Kaliningrad Oblast. Spanning only several hundred miles across, Lithuania required just two roadside outdoor fixed RFID readers to track the journey from one border to the other.
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