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RFID Lets Telework Center Get Down to Business

The system offers the company an easy way to manage members' access to the center, and to track the services they use.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 19, 2009Most entrepreneurs launch businesses by spreading out their research materials and laptops on dining room tables, or in home offices, then meeting with clients or business partners at, for instance, a corner coffee shop. Recognizing this to be true, Barbara Sprenger decided to start up a business of her own: the Satellite Telework Center. The facility—located in Felton, Calif., at the southern edge of Silicon Valley—opened this month, offering members a place for small businesses or other organizations to conduct meetings or just work in a quiet space, away from the distractions of home.

Sprenger (the center's CEO) and her team (Ken Meshke, director of facilities development, and Jim Graham, who heads up marketing) opted to employ an RFID-based system for managing members' access to the center and use of its services. Individual members' fees are based on the amount of time they make use of the facility, as well as on which services they require.

A Satellite Telework Center member uses his RFID card to access a conference room.

The building is outfitted with RFID interrogators mounted at the main entrance, as well as next to doors leading to private offices and conference rooms within the center. Members are issued an RFID card upon joining, which they carry with them and use to effectively clock in and out of the building.

During weekday nine-to-five office hours, the main entrance doors remain open, though members are expected to present their RFID cards to the readers mounted there in order to check in at the facility. After hours, the main entrance is locked, but members can utilize their cards to unlock the doors.

If a member wishes to utilize a private office or conference room within the facility, he or she is charged a higher fee and must use the RFID card to enter these areas. To enter, that individual presents the card to an interrogator mounted outside the room's door. The center also offers small phone rooms, the size of individual library study rooms, which members can unlock via their RFID cards. These small rooms are less expensive than renting a private office, and are designed for those who need to conduct private phone calls but do not require a large space.

The RFID readers and cards were supplied by Honeywell. According to Graham, the cards contain a passive low-frequency (LF) 125 kHz RFID tag produced by HID Global, and have a 1-foot read range. Johnson Electronics, a local communications systems provider, installed the RFID system and trained the center's staff on how to manage it.

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