Thursday, 1 August 2013

RFID - things continue to evolve

PLS has been aware of ongoing changes in the RFID space for some time, so decided to meet with Alan Butters of Sybis who provided the advice for the development of our current RFID Interoperability specification.  Alan is a leading national and international expert on RFID for libraries, so his advice is authoritative and much appreciated.

Alan spent half a day with PLS staff providing us with an update of the changes in RFID and the emerging NFC (near field communication) ability of smart phones and how this may impact on library RFID.  We also looked RFID tagging for collections, the ability to “lock” certain fields on chips, new fields and how they could be used to support ILL movement without reference to the LMS while in transit, RFID sorters and other issues.

There is a lot for PLS staff to absorb in all that Alan has told us, and we have more research and modeling to do before we will be able to definitively update all libraries with where things are headed.  It is likely that the information we have received will see a revision / enhancement of the Interoperability Specification, to account for emerging changes.  In the meantime it is important that we give you an interim “heads up” if your library is in the process of going to the market for an RFID solution.  If you are in this position it would be prudent to talk to PLS staff about the emerging trends and what should be considered for inclusion in your tender specification.

As an aside Alan showed us and told us about all sorts of changes to how “chips” are being used to connect devices to content, download data and route items.  For those of us who travels a bit it was interesting to hear that many airlines are now including an RFID chip in the baggage destination slips added to cases & that this chip is programmed with all routing information needed to get your bag to its final destination.  So, even if the airline’s computer is offline the RIFD reader on the baggage conveyor belt can read and route your bag!  And as the reader does not have to refer back to the computer it is much faster in its routing.  This is a relatively boring – but vital use of such technologies.  Some of the other applications were very cool.  A range of such applications are written about here

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