RFID Delivers

Posted by Ken Lynch on Fri, Nov 12, 2010 @ 12:04 PM

Tags: RFID, Healthcare, Child Safety

Keeps Your Bundle of Joy Safe and Sound

RFTechnologiesThe day of a baby’s arrival usually goes down as one of the happiest days of people’s lives. We jot down every detail in record books, we save newspaper clippings in time capsules and we get flowers and gifts from friends and family.  There is so much emotion involved, but one should not be concerned about the baby’s safety while on the maternity ward. That should be a safe place, right? 

Continuing our series on applications used to identify and tracking people with RFID, we look today at how hospital security systems are using RFID to add new lines of defense for infant and pediatric safety tracking.  It is becoming commonplace for hospital ID bands to include RFID tags and for readers to be placed near elevators and exits to prevent kidnapping or unauthorized movement within a facility.  While such an event may be unthinkable, these systems have prevented numerous abductions since they’ve been in use.

Some hospitals, however, want to have more immediate information when an alarm goes off.  For example, which patient triggered the alarm and where were they?  What would happen if someone took the band off?  One hospital that addressed these weaknesses was Waukesha Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin.  It recently upgraded its RFID-based infant and pediatric tracking system to allow hospital staff to instantly identify the specific patients who trigger an alarm through a computer screen as soon as an alarm sounds.

Another more recent example is Sutter Tracy Community Hospital in Tracy, California.  Both hospitals use RF Technologies’ Safe Place Infant and Pediatric Security Solution. In addition to the tamper-proof features of its solution, an interesting dimension is the ability to integrate it with the telephone paging systems used in hospitals. RF Technologies dual-frequency RFID tag transmits at 262 kHz to interrogators located in doorways, and at 318 MHz to readers deployed in hallways and other locations. So, for example, if your baby is being taken through the west exit of the maternity ward, hospital staff will know it as soon as the alarm is triggered.

Not that any of this is pleasant to think about, but consider the scenario. As a new parent and patient, wouldn’t it be much better to have the nurse come into your room and say that someone tried to take your daughter but we stopped him at the door rather than the alternative? (As she hands your daughter to you so you can hold her tight). Plus, you’re less likely to file a lawsuit. I bet the hospitals see the immediate ROI from implementing an RFID tracking system.

Having experienced the joy of the birth of my own children, I can’t think of a better use of RFID.  After all, the only emotions that should be felt and shared during such a momentous life event are love and happiness. Don’t you think?

[Photo credit: RFTechnologies, Safe Place® - Smart Sense™ Technology]

RFID Lets Theme Parks Be Fun for All

Posted by Ken Lynch on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 @ 10:36 AM

Tags: RFID, RFID Wristbands, Theme Parks, Child Safety

Takes Special Care of Special Needs Guests and Children

Morgan's WonderlandThe words “25-acre theme park” could make any parent of small children quake in their boots. For the parents or caretakers of people with special needs, a theme park of that size may be out of the question,  more trouble than it’s worth or just plain not fun.

Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas is providing safe entertainment for people with special needs and they’re doing it with the help of RFID. Guests can register with an online system that obtains information from visitors before they get to the theme park. Important information on each guest such as health needs, handicap accessibility requirements, allergies, medications and the names of the people accompanying them is forwarded to an RFID system. The guests can print a bar-coded ticket containing their specific information that they bring with them to the park.

When visitors arrive at the park, their printed bar-code tickets are scanned. Workers then provide each member of the group with an RFID-enabled wristband. The wristband contains an active RF Code 433 MHz RFID tag for location purposes, and a high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz tag provided by ViVOtech. The HF tag is designed to be read at close proximities at the exit and registration area. RFIDTec's Location Station software links the wristband ID numbers to the information provided about each guest at registration.

Consultant Denim Group used a Threat Modeling technique to identify potential security weaknesses during the planning stage. Based on that reconnaissance, RFID readers as well as RFID kiosks were strategically placed throughout the park to help visitors keep track of members of their party. Handheld RFID readers at the gate issue an alert if someone tries to leave without their party. If a group leader loses someone, he can visit an RFID kiosk where the passive HF tag on his wristband is read. The software would pull up the ID numbers for the members in his party and display the location of each person via a map of the park on the kiosk monitor.

I can think of a dozen other places where this type of application could be useful. I try not to be an alarmist when it comes to my kids’ safety, but automated systems like this can give parents one less thing to worry about – especially in the craze of large theme parks where losing site of an excited child can happen easily.

Where do you think RFID system like this could provide the most benefit and would it allow you to kick back and have a little more fun? The mall? The county fair? How about arcades or indoor entertainment centers?

[Photo credit: Morgan's Wonderland]

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