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New York Stock Exchange to Track Traders Via RFID

NYSE Euronext will be using an AeroScout RTLS system to ensure traders don't carry their tablet computers onto unauthorized trading floors.
By Claire Swedberg
May 11, 2011Within the next few weeks, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) will be employing an AeroScout real-time location system (RTLS) to track the location of handheld computers and thereby ensure that traders do not pass from one trading floor to another with those devices and thereby potentially conduct an unauthorized transaction. The solution—says Lou Pastina, executive VP of operations for NYSE Euronext, the Euro-American holding company that operates the NYSE—will eliminate the need for NYSE security guards to watch for tablets being carried by traders as they pass from one trading floor to another.

The NYSE provides traders with Fujitsu tablet computers to conduct trades and communicate with others outside of the floor, as well as to gain information via the Internet. A total of 350 tablets are issued to equity traders, and 50 tablets to options traders. Equities and options traders have been using the devices for about 15 years. However, regulations require that the NYSE not allow traders to carry those devices from one floor to another, where they could gain non-public information about that company that could affect stock value and potentially use that information unfairly to make a sales transaction, or contact others who may do so. For the past 15 years, the NYSE has employed security guards to watch for tablets being transported from one floor to another (altogether there are two equities floors and one options floor). This process, however, is prone to errors, since a tablet could be missed as it passes a security guard, for example, and it provides no record of the number of infractions that occur.

Lou Pastina
The AeroScout system, Pastina hopes, will provide an electronic record confirming that no unauthorized movement of a wireless device occurred, or if such an unauthorized movement did take place, when. AeroScout MobileView software, installed on the NYSE's back-end server, will use the NYSE's existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to provide details about the location of each of the tablets, and send alerts if a tablet is not in the authorized zone. The NYSE will provide an AeroScout T3 Wi-Fi-based RFID tag to each trader, which can be applied with adhesive to the back of his or her assigned tablet. The active tags transmit at 2.4 GHz and comply with IEEE's Wi-Fi standards.

When a tag is applied to a tablet PC, NYSE management will use the MobileView software to link the tag's unique ID number with data about the trader to whom the tablet has been issued. The data will include the trader's name and the specific trading floor where use of the tablet is permitted. As a tablet is carried around the floor, its AeroScout tag will repeatedly transmit a signal encoded with its unique ID number, and that signal will be captured by Wi-Fi nodes installed throughout the facility. MobileView software then determines the tag's location based on the Wi-Fi nodes that receive the transmission.

In the first phase of the project, which is expected to go live by June, MobileView software will keep a record of the movements of the tablets in the 35,000-square-foot area that encompasses the three trading floors, and will also note any event in which they moved to an unauthorized area, when and what date the incident occurred and which tablet was being moved. That data regarding movement of tablets into unauthorized zones will be provided to NYSE's management on a spreadsheet, Pastina says. In addition, a message will be e-mailed to management on the floor if a tablet is moved to an unauthorized area, indicating which tablet it is and who is associated with that tablet as well as the individual's location.

In the next phase, the tablets' locations will also be viewable in real time on computer screens dedicated to that purpose. The display screens will be installed in multiple locations around the floors, to be used by floor managers. This phase, says Pastina, will be live at the end of 2011.

With the new system Pastina hopes to eliminate the need for security guards to watch for unauthorized tablet movements. "In that way, we can put the security guards to work elsewhere," he says. "It will also provide us with a better audit trail for regulatory purposes."

MobileView software will be configured to record a precise time for each event, says AeroScout's senior director of marketing, Steffan Haithcox. Regulatory requirements, he points out, dictate that the NYSE know exactly when an event occurred, and the system will be designed to accommodate that need.
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