University Business - July 2006 - (Page 91)

BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY Have You Taken Your Last Swipe? With RFID technology gaining ground, some institutions of higher ed have begun implementing it. By Jean Marie Angelo A NYONE WHO IS FOLLOW use it to monitor railroad cars. ing technology trends is hearing more about the marvels of RFID. USE ON CAMPUS Prognosticators envision a not-too-distant If RFID technology is being used at all future in which there will be no lines in on campus, it's most likely in the library supermarkets and no need to pay cash at to track research materials and sign out the gas pump. RFID will act like a smart books. The library system at the Uni- system, tracking items as they are pulled versity of California, Merced started off the shelf and deducting payments au- using RFID technology this year. tomatically from bank accounts. RFID technology allows us to run a These pundits are obviously putting a better library, says R. Bruce Miller, the lot of faith in RFID, a technology that is university librarian. simple in theory, but like all new tech- The UC, Merced library uses RFID RFID technology nology expensive to implement. Still, technology in two ways: to check out retailers and security services are finding books and to monitor the use of research allows us to run a more mainstream uses for RFID. Can it be publications and other materials that do better library. Bruce Miller, too long before RFID comes to campus? not leave the building. The system reads Truth is, some universities are already data programmed to the RFID tags that University of California, Merced using RFID technology, although use is have been placed on cards inside the limited. library's books and publications. Each It may be a while before RFID tech- proximity to the technology. book is identified by a string of numbers nology is in place at campus bookstores, So m e RFID tags are made to be that can be matched to publication name dining halls, and rec centers, but if cur- read only for one-way communica- within the system. rent buzz is any gauge, RFID is going to tion these types of tags are the ones A database records that ID when become a common technology on cam- most commonly used by libraries, or in a book is checked out, or even if it is pus and everywhere. highway speed-pass systems. moved off a shelf for a period of time. Other tags are in read and write Staff can monitor who has taken out a WHAT IS RFID? format, allowing for more control. book, but the RFID tag inside the pub- The letters RFID stand for radio fre- Data can not only be read by the sys- lication does not contain any personal quency identification. An RFID tag, t e m , but can be changed on the fly. information about who is reading what, which can be embedded in a security The data stored in an RFID tag can be nor does it include the book's title. The card or placed on a packaging label, gives updated a retail price can be marked system was set up this way to quell fears off a radio signal that is picked up by an- down, for example. of privacy violations, says Miller. tennae in the reading devices. RFID technology has been around Even if some other RFID system If programmed into the system, a for a while, but uses have been mostly breaks the encryption, all someone person's identification information and applied to agriculture and industrial would see is a string of numbers. There other data are easily verified sometimes sectors. For example, ranchers are al- is no personal content on the card, ex- at great distances without the need for ready tracking large herds of cattle with plains Miller. the user to swipe a card or stand in close RFID signals; transportation managers The RFID system, though, will be July 2006 | 91 BizTech.indd BizTech.indd 91 6/21/06 3:43:37 PM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - July 2006

College Index
Advisory Board
Company Index
Editor's Note
People Watch
Sense of Place
Stats Watcch
Human Resources
Future Shock
Money Matters
Community Colleges
Diamond in the Mudd
Higher Ed at the Crossroads
Property Values
The President Next Door
Good Medicine
The Outs (and Ins) of Facility Management
Business Technology
What's New
Calendar of Events
Direct Connect
End Note

University Business - July 2006