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Florida Court Ups Its RFID System

The state attorney office for Florida's 15th judicial circuit is now using EPC Gen 2 tags to track the locations of almost 18,000 files, as well as hundreds of employees.
By Claire Swedberg
"That can be a critical tool for finding an attorney," Zinn says, noting that lawyers can sometimes be called into court without notice. Determining their location, therefore, is often time-consuming for the office staff. In the future, he adds, the system will also allow the staff to determine which worker has which specific files.

Thus far, Zinn says, the office has tagged nearly 18,000 files, and the system allows workers to see the location of the files in real time, anywhere in the offices, by signing into the back-end system and viewing an icon on a floor map of the building on the computer monitor. The office still uses 1-by-4-inch paper self-adhesive labels containing Alien EPC Gen 2 RFID inlays. Employees utilize a Zebra Technologies printer-encoder to print and encode each tag with a unique ID number that includes a five-digit Commercial and Government Agency (CAGE) code corresponding specifically to the state attorney's office in West Palm Beach. In that way, if a tag from another organization using RFID file-tracking comes within the read range of an interrogator at the prosecutor's office, the reader will not recognize the ID number and will, therefore, not read that tag. The CAGE code also ensures that the tag's ID number will not duplicate the number of any other tag from a separate organization.

Data from the readers is transmitted over the Ethernet connection to the PanGo software, which then links the tag's unique ID number to such file data as the case number, names on the case file, and the history of where the file has been. The staff can then view the file's exact location on a map displayed on a computer screen.

The first deployment of approximately 18 readers, Zinn says, afforded the staff a granularity of about 20 feet for each tagged file within range of those readers. However, he says, that was not close enough for finding files in, for instance, an attorney's office, or between several cubicles that could contain hundreds of files. With the installation of additional readers, which began in July 2008, that granularity is now a matter of a few feet, and the entire felony division is being covered.

According to Zinn, the RFID system "is proving itself, day after day, as a valuable tool." When he has to take down the system intermittently to add more readers, he says, employees ask him when the system will be working again. "I would say we now have a realistic handle over the location of our files," Zinn states. The installation cost approximately $100,000, he adds, and paid for itself in less than 18 months.

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