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RFID Technology in the Military
Radio frequency identification (RFID)
Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a term used to refer to an electronic system that transmits in form of serial numbers that are distinct, the identity of a person or an object in a wireless manner with the aid of radio frequencies. The RFID is categorized under the wider automatic identification technologies category (Association of Automatic Identification and Mobility, 2011). The RFID are intelligent bar codes that are connected to a networked system and can communicate back and forth with it.
The RFID is nowadays used all around us, from the supermarket items to the pet ID tags, toil booths, gas stations and several security items. Unlike the predecessor UPC bar-code, the RFID does not require any contact or line of sight in order for communication to be enabled between the tagged item and the centre of the system. The data that is used in RFID can be read through the human body, non-metallic items and even clothing.
The RFID has basically three parts; the antennae, a transceiver (with a decoder) and the transponder. The receiving antennae will detect the radio waves that are emitted from an object that is sending out the signal, in this case the RFID tag which communicates with the installed equipment that decodes the data received and the antennae. For instance if a person bearing the RFID tag approaches a premises where there is an antennae installed then signal is detected and received by the antennae (RFID Tagsource, 2010). Once the data has been received, then the reader decodes the data encoded in the integrated circuit of the tag then the data is transmitted to the host computer for ultimate processing and display. The illustration as seen below
Fig. 1.1. Model of the RFID transmission system. Image retrieved from http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa479355.aspx
The basic purpose of the RFID system is to give room for the transmission of data by portable devices on the move with the help of a tag; this data is accordingly processed in line with the need of that particular application. The transmitted data could be giving the location of the identified item or the details about the identified item like the size, price, and color and so on. The RFID grabbed the attention of many organizations and companies due to its ability to track moving objects hence has been put into use by several companies over a decade or so.
The RFID tag has microchip that is attached onto a radio antennae and the chip can store data to the tune of 2 kilobytes. To retrieve this data that is engraved into the tag is the reader that has antennas to emit the radio signal as well as receive them back from the tag then finally passed to the computer.
Current uses and applications of RFID
RFID goes a long way in providing security to personnel and the military camps at large especially in the areas where exclusive access should be allowed like the server rooms, data centers, and money bunkers where access is on identification and on selective basis. The RFID can come in efficiently in ensuring that only the people with access cards are given the access to such places.
The employee or authorized personnel only has to hold up a card against the reader and gain access. Since there is a unique code for each employee, it is easier to trace the activities of each employee who entered such delicate centers of organizations and this way protecting the data or the military radio control rooms and any other secured property from external fraudulent attack as well as internal malicious damages or even the security of the people entering a building to know who never got out of the building hence help trace them and see if they need help.
It is also the system that enables organizations to set a given limit of access for their various parts of the network. RFID provides sufficient security measures and the access using the state of the art cryptography that enables anti-eavesdropping, authentication, data integrity and the anti-tracing in their military operations.
This device also allows for the validation of information and individual identification that gives more access control, reduction in losses and the capability to give reliable services when needed. This ability to authenticate information is a measure against fraudulent activities like counterfeiting and fraud (Simon Holloway, 2006).
Apart from the access control that RFID provides, it also gives assets and personnel tracking options especially among the personnel who are a high security priority in the military. The personnel will wear the tag that allows the central server to track their movements in the areas where they are or have been posted by the commander. These cards can be read from a central place and their exact location identified without necessarily subjecting all the soldiers to a choke point for reading.
RFID can also be used in securing the fleets of a given battalion; the cars are equipped with RFID tags that allow the tracking of these vehicles. This way, the cars can be re-routed at any given time incase there is security breach detected ahead of the military personnel and there is need to do so. This security measure is also used in refrigerator cars where the tags can be used to keep track of the temperatures inside them and hence ensure the integrity of the contents of the car especially applied on the food cargo that are frequently sent to the military in the battle field (Security Info Watch, 2009).
Some military units have taken the RFID application a step higher by tagging the car and linking it to a driver, tagging the truck and linking it to the trailer and the trailer consequently to the authorized shipment of artillery and ammunitions. This technology will help here in ensuring that the cars exit and enter the authorized premises but also carry with them the authorized goods and in the hands of the right driver. This way, the RFID helps in prevention of loss assets, from the cars themselves to the shipments under transport and reducing the chances of the crucial supplies landing in the hands of the enemy.
There is need to have an efficient means of knowing exactly where a given unit or group of military personnel are especially while on duty in a foreign terrain. This RFID can provide the vehicle location module which transmits the coordinates of the location of each unit in a given truck. This can be as frequent as every 15 to 25 seconds.
When the RFID tracking system is integrated with the geographic information systems that identified the exact location of each truck at any given time, there is certainty of estimating the arrival time of the unit to a given destination. Such data is very crucial especially when there is backup required so that the military can coordinate the approaches and respond efficiently in a battle field.
Due to the quick pace at which the military operations move, there is need to keep track of each and every item of the military division that needs maintenance so that there is no oversight of such important military equipment. Without the RFID there is high possibility of some artillery going without repair and maintenance for a long period of time due to the vast number of such artillery in the hands of the military as well as the identical nature of the artillery.
The military can also use RFID in asset tracking by putting the RFID tags on each and every item that can easily be stolen by the enemy troops or those items that are hard to detect easily yet very crucial to the operations of the military. This RFID tag will enable the military to readily access the item when needed in an emergency situation. This will help the military unit concerned with the warehousing to be more efficient in warehouse management for ammunitions and the general supplies.
The military supplies can also be tracked using the RFID especially when moving from one military camp to another in across a section that can be prone to the enemy attacks. With this technology, the people at the computer control towers will be able to track the movement of the vehicles carrying the supplies to the next camp and respond accordingly if there is any gross digression from the intended route. This can also help the driver to navigate the terrain safely and efficiently even if he is a stranger to the place and is not well conversant with the physical markers leading from one pint to another.
Other equipments that are commonly tracked in the military operation using RFID are IT Equipment weapons, firearms, laboratory equipment, research Equipment and vehicles among others.
The RFID tag can also be instrumental to the military equipment manufacturers as they can tag the parts that they manufacture and easily trace its movement from their doorstep…[continue]
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