What kind of tags and readers are the best for this application? Are there any case studies regarding the use of RFID for firearm-tracking applications?
We have written a number of articles about organizations using radio frequency identification technologies. There are a variety of applications, including:
Managing distribution of firearms sold in stores
Two gun distributors—American Tactical Imports (ATI) and AmChar Wholesale—last year installed an RFID solution from Annapolis, Md., logistics-management software firm AdvanTech Inc. to help them track firearms passing through their facility. The two sister companies operate out of a single large facility located in Rochester, N.Y. AmChar is also marketing AdvanTech's RFID solution to its retailers. The solution involves the attachment of passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) EPC Gen 2 RFID tags to guns, and the use of fixed and handheld RFID readers to determine goods' locations as they are received at ATI's and AmChar's Rochester warehouse, as well as when they are shipped to gun shops or other customers. Retailers could then use the readers themselves to track the firearms' arrival and sale (see Firearms Distributors to Track Guns Via RFID).
Managing firearms used by police or security guards
Nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly company B&W Pantex has selected a RuBee low-frequency (LF) RFID system to capture data about the use of tools and chemicals at its Amarillo, Texas, facility, known as the Pantex Plant. Pantex provides its highly sensitive services for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. The system that has been piloted for the past five years is provided by Visible Assets. The solution is designed for environments in which data must be transmitted
in the presence of metal and liquids, and also must be highly secured against eavesdropping or other security threats (see Pantex Nuclear Weapons Plant Adopts RuBee RFID to Track Tools, Chemicals).
Checking guns in and out
The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), has installed an RFID-based
system at an armory within one of its facilities in the Washington, D.C, area. This enables the department to store an electronic record of
which personnel have taken and returned which weapons, while also automating the checkout process. The RFID system can also issue alerts if an unauthorized event occurs. The system, known as EasyArms, was provided by ODIN RFID, an RFID solutions provider and systems integrator based in Ashburn, Va. (see U.S. State Dept.'s Security Bureau Checks Out Weapons-Tracking RFID App)
To manage the rollout of Tasers for use by some of its 2,500 police officers, the United Kingdom's Nottinghamshire Police Department (Notts Pol) has deployed RFID-enabled cabinets at four of its police stations. The cabinets are designed to
ensure that only officers authorized to access the Tasers can actually do so. The system also maintains a record of which personnel use the
devices, as well as the weapons' condition and how often a specific officer has fired them (see U.K. Police Use RFID to Secure Tasers).
Gun maker Sig Sauer, Visible Assets and Oak Ridge National Laboratory collaborated to create the first-of-its kind Weapons Inventory Network, based on
RuBee technology. The system provides real-time visibility into weapons' locations and firing histories, as well as personnel and other
high-value assets, such as night vision goggles and armored vests. The product was rolled out in 2008 (see Gunning for Change).
There are many other deployments, particularly in the Middle East, of which I am aware, but that RFID Journal has not been able to write about because governments don't want to publicize the projects. But many police departments are starting to use RFID (I include RuBee as part of RFID) to make sure officers check out their guns properly and return them properly.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal