Qatar’s Public Prosecution Office Cuts File Search Time by 60 Percent

By Claire Swedberg

The department's facilities in Doha's West Bay and Al Sadd neighborhoods use passive RFID UHF tags to track more than 100,000 legal files, as well as assets.

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Qatari Public Prosecution (QPP) has launched one of the largest RFID-based solutions in Qatar to date, tracking tens of thousands of files as they are moved throughout its two locations: its primary complex in the West Bay section of Doha, and a smaller facility at a court building located in Doha’s Al Sadd neighborhood. The solution, provided by Ali Bin Ali Technology Solutions (ABATS) using a solution from FileTrail, now includes 375 different read points, employing more than 125 readers to identify the locations of files throughout the QPP’s two sites.

The QPP carries out criminal investigations, indictments and prosecutions throughout Qatar, as well as supervising the collection of fines, and is responsible for overseeing confiscated and seized possessions. That means it must manage not only tens of thousands of case files, but also its own office assets, such as computers, printers and furniture, along with the confiscated or seized property.

ABATS’ Mohamad AlEbrik

Altogether, the QPP manages more than 100,000 case files and assets that are either stored on shelves or moved among personnel as cases are worked on. In some cases, the files may leave the primary complex as well. For example, law-enforcement officers may require those files when carrying out investigations in the field. Files may also travel to courtrooms before being returned.

Prior to deploying an RFID-based system to track the case files, the QPP employed a delivery notebook that employees filled out manually every time they removed a file from the shelves and provided them to a specific individual. However, this solution was time-consuming and error-prone, the department reports. When a file needs to be found, there is often only a short window of time available—such as prior to a court appearance—but if a file is discovered to be missing, staff members searching for that file might have to walk from room to room, place phone calls or send e-mails.

The office wanted not only to be able to locate missing case files in a hurry, but also to have a real-time view into the inventory of its files—and which ones may be misfiled, or need to be returned to the appropriate location.

Ali Bin Ali Technology Solutions provides solutions for multinational technology firms in Qatar. ABATS supplied the FileTrail system, integrating FileTrail middleware, while installing Motorola Solutions RFID readers at the QPP’s primary complex.

“The installation posed several challenges,” says Mohamad AlEbrik, ABATS’ chief operating officer. The system needed to provide coverage at main gates, with an alarm unit that could detect if someone tried to remove a case file from the building without authorization, and then sound an alert.

The building has multiple doorways and exits, some in close proximity to each other. ABATS thus needed to install the antennas “in an organized method to prevent overlapping of multiple signals and readings,” AlEbrik says. Additionally, the system needed to be able to function without disruptions within the West Bay complex’s lobby area, the ceilings of which are approximately 8 meters (26 feet) high.

The QPP’s RFID installation began in June 2011 and was taken live in November of that year, with a limited number of RFID readers installed at the exits and entrances for all buildings within its office complex. The department then entered a second phase to cover the entire West Bay facility, including all of its rooms, in September 2012.

Altogether, ABATS installed about 125 Motorola FX7400 fixed readers with 375 antennas, covering not only the exits and entrances, but also elevators and all rooms throughout QPP’s West Bay main office complex, to provide the department with visibility regarding which room a particular file had entered or left. In almost every case, the readers were installed in the ceiling, connected via a Power over Ethernet (POE) cable. ABATS initially provided the QPP with 80,000 tags for tracking case files, as well as 7,400 for monitoring assets.

When creating a new legal file, a worker attaches a FileTrail passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) Gen 2 RFID adhesive tag to its cover, then scans the bar-coded ID number printed on the tag’s front. The unique ID number encoded to the tag is linked to the bar-coded ID, and is then stored in the FileTrail software, along with any entered details pertaining to that case file, such as an individual’s name, the date and some descriptive details of the case.

Each time the tag is then read, the FileTrail middleware captures location data and forwards that information to the QPP’s local data center. There, the department’s own software determines whether a specific response is required for any specific read event, such as sounding an alert if an item is leaving an authorized zone.

The installation was completed at two sites: the West Bay main office complex and a second location at the Al Sadd court offices. About 200 readers, 500 antennas and eight alarm units were installed collectively at the two facilities. Expansion of the system is now underway as the QPP constructs an extension to its West Bay complex to house more of its personnel, files and assets.

The system now tracks approximately 120,000 items, including assets and case files (about 80 percent of the tagged items are case files), according to Mariam Haji Abdulla, Qatari Public Prosecution’s director of information systems. Since the system’s installation, she reports, the amount of time employees spend searching for missing files has been reduced by 60 percent. What’s more, she notes, the number of missing case files has dropped—and the solution also prevents the removal of files without permission, providing a significant benefit to the office’s security.

“It’s a good solution and adds value to our business lifecycle strategy,” Abdulla states. In the future, she says, the QPP hopes to include a dashboard and graphical tracking interface to the software, in order to make the location of files or assets even easier. The QPP also intends, down the line, to monitor visitors by providing each admitted individual with a badge containing a FileTrail RFID tag that can then be identified as he or she moves throughout the complex.

In addition, the office intends to use the system to track confiscated possessions.