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Human effect of RFID

rfid-tag.jpgThe recent debate on CPOE brings to mind some of the human and cultural issues surrounding the introduction of new technologies and RFID in particular. Although the focus of RFID applications has been on tracking and tracing of goods and assets, the side effect is that you often end up tracking the activities of people.

Some years ago an RFID enabled weighbridge system was installed at a waste plant in North London to which several local authorities subscribe. The system works by fitting long-range active tags in the cab window of the waste collection vehicle so that entry can be gained to a weighbridge on entry and exit.

Before the RFID system was introduced the whole procedure was manual and slow. The new system allows data on quantity of waste disposed of, time, vehicle, authority, to be collected automatically saving time through the site and automating the billing process. However, the system was introduced with little regard for the waste collection operatives on the vehicle who viewed it with suspicion and saw it as a spy in the cab.

For some the reaction to this intrusion on their normal working practices was to prise the RFID tag off the window and throw it away. It took a little while for it to dawn on the operatives that the consequences of the system were in fact beneficial for them; they could get through the site quicker on each return and finish their rounds earlier. Still, it would have been better to bring the staff into the project from the outset.

See this article on the innovative use of RFID in healthcare.

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