The boon of radio frequency ID tags
Feb 03, 2013 (Khaleej Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The explosive growth of the automobile sector in India has also resulted in a massive expansion of highways, freeways and expressways in the country.
Tens of thousands of motorists head out for beaches, hill stations and other resorts located within a radius of 100 to 200km from cities such as Mumbai on weekends. But many of them get caught up in frustrating snarls on the busy arteries, especially near toll plazas where highway developers collect charges for using the roads. Even within Mumbai, the impressive Bandra-Worli Sealink, which cuts travel time sharply between the two localities, sees long queues of vehicles near the collection centres.
Last year, the authorities introduced the electronic toll collection system at the sealink, enabling motorists to buy radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which are affixed to the windscreens, enabling swift access to the bridge. Of course, with rampant indiscipline on the roads, even motorists without the RFID tags try to use these exclusive lanes, but the authorities have got around this problem by installing boom barriers, which do not move unless a vehicle is fitted with the tag. Other motorists have to take the Y-fork ahead and come back in queue.
Says Apurva Parekh, chairman and managing director of Mumbai-headquartered Essen RFID: "The RFID business in India is growing tremendously. The government is encouraging the use of this technology both along national highways and even in the mining sector, to track thousands of trucks." Parekh did his electrical engineering in the US in the early 1970s, worked for a Fortune 500 firm for a few years before returning to India and starting the Essen Group of companies . According to him, the gap between western technology and the ones available in India has narrowed down dramatically in recent years. Parekh has also executed projects in the Gulf and Africa. He has provided an RFID tags-based tracking solution for a Dubai firm, enabling it to identify about 600 tankers and their drivers when they enter its parking lot. In Muscat and in Lagos in Nigeria, he has provided solutions to schools enabling them to ensure safe and secure transportation of school children. "Our RFID-based school bus student tracking system provides end-to-end tracking of a student by parents, ensuring heightened monitoring and security and maintaining complete transparency," says Parekh, who was recently in the UAE to make a presentation for a major project that would cover the transportation needs of 270 schools.
Essen's school student tracking system features an RFID reader/antenna which is mounted at the door of each school bus; the device is configured to be remotely programmable through Wi-Fi. Each student is assigned an RFID tag, while controllers with attached GPS devices are installed in the bus, interfacing with the RFID reader and communicating with the central server at the school. The system enables patents to monitor the movement of their children, whether they have inadvertently entered a wrong bus or gotten off at a wrong stop, as it alerts them through an SMS in case of such an eventuality. Parents also get an SMS when the student exits the bus and reaches home.
"Given today's tough security environment, I am of the firm belief that RFID as a technology medium shall act as an effective platform to tackle any tracking issues," explains Parekh. Of course, RFID technology is also being used at retail stores to keep track of products and by logistics firms monitoring the movement of vehicles.
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