Great Disaster Response Solution, Texas!

December 5, 2007 at 2:37 pm | Posted in RFID | 1 Comment

This is a biased blog entry, of course. I love the idea of using RFID to track disaster evacuees. Dynamic created a publication for public health officials this fall informing them of ways RFID could help with disaster preparedness and response. So many people are afraid of RFID; I am pleased to point to yet another example of RFID harmlessly making society a better place.

If you haven’t heard, Texas is going to be issuing wristbands with both barcodes and RFID tags to evacuees following a disaster. Readers on the evacuation vehicles will gather data as people enter and exit the vehicles. GPS devices on the busses will report realtime positions for each bus, and therefore all the tagged people within that bus will be tracked. The goal of the system is to help reunite families who have been separated by a disaster much more quickly, and to provide real-time location data in case loved ones cannot be immediately reunited. This should greatly relieve the distress which follows a disaster when families struggle to find one another.

The second reason I like the Texas solution is the clever way they are combining technologies. Using the bus as a container for multiple tags, and tracking a single GPS location for all the tags in the container is a great cost-saving idea, and one with a long-proven track record in the RFID world. Using container-level tracking is an old standby, and a very effective one.

Likewise, incorporating both barcodes and RFID tags in the wristbands is pretty smart, since it means that the wristband can  be read by whatever type of reader is available. This is, after all, a statewide system. There are clear benefits for using RFID in heavily populated areas, where benefits will outweigh implementation costs. Meanwhile the 20 inhabitants of Podunkville, Texas probably won’t need RFID readers for their designated evacuation bus, since it would only take a few minutes to scan everyone’s bar code by hand. Even so, this means Podunkville evacuees can be traced through the same system as their friends in urban Houston. Nice.


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  1. gps real time tracking system

    yes indeed…

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