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New Report: RFID in the Public Sector

A new report on RFID in the public sector has been released. Commissioned by the IBM Center for the Business of Government, it is a comprehensive and up-to-date look at the technology, its many applications, and associated public sector issues. This article tells you what you need to know about the 100-page report.
Tags: Defense
Nov 15, 2005This article was originally published by RFID Update.

November 15, 2005—A new report on RFID in the public sector has been released. Entitled RFID: The Right Frequency for Government, the free report was commissioned by the IBM Center for the Business of Government. At roughly 100 pages, it is a comprehensive and up-to-date look at the technology, its many applications, and associated public sector issues. RFID Update spoke with author David C. Wyld, who is associate professor in Southeastern Louisiana University's Department of Management.

In the report introduction, Wyld discusses RFID's history, how the technology relates to bar codes, and the significance of automatic identification. In "RFID 101", he goes on to offer a brief primer on the technology itself, including the tag-reader architecture, frequency, and read rates. The next chapter is devoted to RFID and its application in the supply chain. The following three chapters focus on the major areas in which the public sector has been involved in the technology's adoption: the US Department of Defense (DoD) initiative, pharmaceutical tagging, and livestock identification. The chapters provide comprehensive looks at their respective topics and are highly recommended to those needing a refresher. There are some particularly good reference pages as well, like the DoD's timetable for RFID deployment through 2007 on page 40 and the timetable for implementation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) on page 55.

The last chapter, "An RFID Agenda for Government", synthesizes the report's information into a distilled analysis of how the US government can aid in the technology's progress. Wyld advocates five particular areas in which the government should become involved: RFID best practices, standards, RFID research, RFID education, and privacy. On pages 60-61, he looks at RFID involvement from governments around the world, including South Korea, Australia, and the UK. On page 62 is a helpful listing of the US government's existing use of the technology as reported by 15 agencies in a May 2005 report from the Government Accountability Office. Another useful reference is the page 71 listing of proposed RFID legislation by states around the US.

When asked what surprises his research had yielded during production of the report, Wyld noted the many RFID applications that have slipped under the radar. "What was surprising, in light of the constant focus on Wal-Mart and the DoD, was the other uses of RFID," he said. Examples include applications in libraries, hazardous waste tracking, and document and evidence tracking. "Some of the more interesting RFID applications in the public space are not so widely known. And they are not necessarily just in the federal government, but in state and local as well. A lot of these applications are being done by innovative execs at the agency level in communities and cities."

While the report is not meant as an economic analysis of the market, RFID Update asked Wyld for his predictions. "The stage is set [for growth]," he said. "I think the projections are going to largely come true." He also noted the ever-increasing potential for animal identification. "I think animal tracking is going to be a huge issue if the bird flu predictions come true," he said.

Download the PDF report free here
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