RFID for a Good Cause

Xtreme RFID wants your submissions for how the technology can be used for the greater good.
Published: March 23, 2012

I’ve always believed that radio frequency identification could make companies more efficient, and that it will eventually make life better and easier for consumers. But what about employing the technology for social causes? Can RFID contribute to humanity’s greater good? Xtreme RFID, a Cascade Engineering company, thinks it can.

We teamed up with the firm to launch the Xtreme Project—a contest with a cause—at this year’s RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition, being held on Apr. 3-5, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. The Xtreme Project will be featured in the Coolest Demo Contest. We’re challenging RFID experts, engineers, technicians and activists to come up with new ways in which to use radio frequency identification technologies to positively impact popular social causes. To learn how you can enter, click here.

I would like to see RFID used for disaster relief. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) utilized its RFID system to manage the movement of goods into Haiti after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck that nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on Jan. 12, 2010 (see In Haiti, RFID Brings Relief). The DOD set up mobile readers with satellite uplinks to its In-Transit Visibility system, enabling the agency to read tags on containers arriving from the United States.

The DOD’s use of RFID showed the technology’s potential, but I think a lot more could be done. United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) could be equipped with a fully mobile and rapidly deployable RFID system enabling it to track goods coming in from overseas after a natural or manmade disaster. And countries could establish reception points with tags, readers and software to create advance shipping notices.

The next time that a disaster occurs, goods could be tagged prior to being shipped to the disaster area. Then, the items could be tracked upon arrival, inventoried and managed more effectively on-site. This would reduce the amount of goods that end up spoiled or stolen during the chaos of a natural disaster.

That’s my idea. What’s yours? Submit it at the Xtreme RFID Web site before Mar. 28, 2012. The top ideas will be displayed at LIVE!, and attendees can vote for their favorite one. The winner will be announced at the event. You could win $5,000 worth of consulting, or an Apple iPad—and, just maybe, your idea could be implemented and make the world a better place.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark’s opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor’s Note archive or RFID Connect.