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RFID for WHAT? 101 Innovative Ways to Use Radio Frequency Identification—Part 1: Business as Unusual

Keeping traders honest, instructing robots and more.
By John Edwards
Aug 01, 2011Presented below is part one of an 11-part series examining the use of radio frequency identification for unexpected applications. In this chapter, we consider RFID's use in the business world.

1. Keeping Traders Honest
The New York Stock Exchange is using a real-time location system to track the handheld computers traders use to make transactions. The system will send a message to management if a trader goes to an unauthorized floor, where he or she could gain nonpublic information that could be used to make an unfair transaction. (See New York Stock Exchange to Track Traders Via RFID.)

2. Preventing Theft
From cargo, cars and casino chips to library books, retail apparel and tires, businesses worldwide are tagging and tracking items to detect and deter theft. They are using a variety of approaches. A car dealership in Toronto, for example, employs an RFID system that alerts office management when a key has not been returned following its removal from a secure case. A German retailer incorporates RFID tags with electronic article surveillance functionality for loss prevention into each garment's product-care label. (See Emprevi Launches Service for Securing, Tracking Cargo, RFID Halts Theft at Toronto Car Dealership, RFID Protects Casino Against Theft, San Bernardino's State-of-the-Art Library Incorporates RFID, Gerry Weber's Pain-Free RFID Revolution and Mexican Bus Company Fights Tire Theft With RFID.)

3. Safeguarding Pharmaceuticals
Gador Laboratories, one of Argentina's largest drug providers, is RFID-tracking individual pharmaceutical products, as well as the pallets on which they are transported, to reduce counterfeiting. Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration & Control is using an RFID system to authenticate pharmaceuticals to combat counterfeiters, and to improve the quality of medications sold in that country. (See Gador to Track Drugs in Argentina and Nigerian Drug Agency Opts for RFID Anticounterfeiting Technology.)

4. Ensuring Food Safety
What do cattle and deer have in common, other than four legs, a tail and soulful eyes? In New Zealand and a growing number of other locations worldwide, the answer is RFID tags. Beef and venison are a cornerstone of New Zealand's agricultural exports market. Therefore, protecting domestically raised cattle and deer is a priority for both ranchers and the national government. That's why New Zealand's meat production industry has formed National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT), a company that provides New Zealand livestock owners, processors and government authorities with timely, quality information on livestock movement and locations.

Russell Burnard, chief executive for Wellington-based NAIT, notes that the insight provided by RFID livestock tracking technology promises to become an essential tool for ensuring food safety. "In the event of a biosecurity or food scare, it will enable cattle and deer to be traced much faster than with current manual systems, and will provide more reliable and up-to-date information on animal movements," he says. "It will allow tracing to take place in large-scale outbreaks that would not be feasible under current manual systems." RFID-generated data will also enable the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's biosecurity division to craft more accurate and useful disease and prevention programs, he adds.
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