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RFID Tracks Gear for Australian Customs and Border Protection

The agency is using HF passive tags and readers at 22 offices and on numerous vessels, to track the location and maintenance records for thousands of weapons and pieces of equipment.
By Claire Swedberg
The system uses passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags from HID Global, complying with the ISO 15693 standard, explains Tony Hilder, the Asia-Pacific sales director of HID Global's identification technologies division. Each asset has an RFID tag affixed to it, as well as the DataDot tracer. A variety of HID Global tags were used, including the Logi Tag 161, Intag 200 and Intag 300 models, depending on the particular item being tagged.

At the central office, a fixed RFID reader was utilized for registering new assets. When a tag is attached to an object, a staff member can select the particular item being tagged on the database, and then read that tag, thereby linking the item to that tag's unique ID number. The tags have been attached to approximately 7,000 items to date, including pistols, machine guns, short guns, handcuffs, mace containers and vests, as well as a variety of other gear issued to officers at 22 sites and on numerous vessels. Tagging began in March 2011, and was completed by July 1.

The central office management can log into arms-inventory-management software to view data in real time, and run audits at any moment.

Each of the 22 satellite locations contains an armory in which weapons and other items are stored. At each site, upon reporting for duty, an officer can request specific equipment, such as weapons and protective gear. Every officer carries an HID Global 13.56 MHz RFID card with a unique ID linked to that employee's information in the assetDNA software residing on the border patrol agency's back-end server. Workers at the armory provide the equipment to the individual, and then read the unique ID number on the employee's card, as well as that of each tagged piece of equipment, using a Bluebird Pidion BIP-6000Max handheld reader. The ID numbers of the items are married to that of the staff member using them. Employees issuing the equipment dock the handheld reader at a PC, in order to upload data from that handheld to the assetDNA software, in which the officer's name and the equipment's identification are stored together.

Relegen's Paul Bennet
When the staff member returns the items, the same process takes place—the employee's card is read, along with each item's RFID tag. If a piece of equipment is missing, or if it is later visually inspected and found to be damaged, that officer can be held responsible, based on the historical records in the software.

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