Tagging the World via RFID

With all the fuss that's been going around the Land Transportation Office's (LTO) radio frequency identification (RFID) project, only one thing is certain -- RFID, per se, will affect many people's lives. As for LTO's project, many believe the system will be used to spy on vehicle owners -- a perception the LTO claims is a myth.

In an interview with Computerworld Philippines, Vince Dizon, vice president for communications and public relations of local systems integrator Stradcom, LTO's exclusive IT provider, clarifies the major issues surrounding the project.

A next-generation identification technology similar to barcode readers, RFID uses radio frequency waves to identify objects, thus drastically increasing the range and accuracy of identification compared to optical light which is used in barcodes.

According to Dizon, RFID will address today's complex problems in the land transportation sector. But once implemented, its applications are expected to be "limitless" since it is an ID system that is generic in nature. RFID can be used in groceries, cargo, logistics, machines, drive-thru fast food chains, and restaurants, among others. The technology can also be set up with a payment gateway.

Dizon says RFID is already being used by several countries worldwide. For instance, motor vehicle registration in South Africa; vehicle identification, authentication and toll road operation in Mexico; toll payment, traffic management and payment card (EZ link) in Singapore; airline luggage locator/segregator, retail payment (Octopus Card), toll and mass transport in Hong Kong; and for passports and payment systems (Touch and Go) in Malaysia.

Over in the US, RFID is used for retail systems (Walmart), supply chain management, passports, payment systems (mass transport/toll payment), inventory tracking, as well as for tracking and authentication of medical records.