Facility Evacuation – Choose the Right RFID Technology


RFID Journal recently featured a case study on Correctional Facility Tracks Visitors, by Bob Violino.   The article describes how the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office (VBSO) automated their once manual process of locating their volunteers, contractors and visitors during an evacuation, utilizing active RFID. TouchPath Software is proud to have teamed with the VBSO in The Evacuation Control System deployment which provides visitor management and evacuation verification.

One of the initial objectives in the project was to determine the most compatible RFID technology for their environment.  Building construction materials, metal, water, and the human body all have an effect on the readability and read ranges of various RFID technologies.   Being a correctional facility, the walls are constructed much thicker than typical buildings and there’s a large amount of metal throughout.  In addition to these structural factors, was the assurance that each person was automatically accounted for (their RFID tag was being read) as they passed through the doorway and while assembled in muster points.

These considerations included:

  • people moving through the doorway at variable speeds (walking and/or possible running)
  • reading the tag regardless of the position the person was facing (forward, sideways, backwards) in relationship to the reader
  • a definitive read regardless of where the RFID tag was placed on the body, held in the hand, placed in a pocket, or on a lanyard
  • the reading of multiple tags should more than one person pass through the doorway at once

To overcome the obstacles listed above, the TouchPath Software team recommended active RFID readers and tags, which would provide the maximum read range and promote the greatest tag read reliability.  An active RFID system uses tags with an on-board power source that communicates with readers at specified timing intervals and does not require line-of-sight in order for a tag to be read.  The greater read range also resulted in fewer quantities of readers needing to be purchased and installed.

Since TouchPath’ software is compatible with bar codes, biometrics and all frequencies of the RFID spectrum, the solution can operate utilizing these technologies separately or simultaneously.  This flexibility permitted Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office to incorporate biometric identification verification of visitors and bar code tagging of assignable equipment to contractors into their active RFID visitor management and Evacuation Control System.  They now have a solid foundation in place that will permit them to expand the functionality as and when they need it, far into the future.

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