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Location Service based on RFID Infrastructure.doc

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  • 1. Paper Collection of 3rd RFID Academic Convocation Location Based Service based on RFID Infrastructure Abstract: RFID is coming to us. Everyone is talking about what we can do using RFID, how we can utilize RFID and when we can benefit from RFID. In this paper, we illustrate some ideas about how to expand LBS (Location Based Service) based on RFID infrastructure. Many practical topics will be discussed, including technology choices, privacy protection issues, locating options, solution architecture and implementation issues. RFID essentials Before building an effective RFID-enabled solution, we need to understand the fundamentals of this technology. RFID is a way of identifying a unique object or person using a radio frequency transmission. An RFID system carries data in mobile transponders, called tags, to retrieve that data within a machine-readable form. The data can provide information such as the location of an item in a manufacturing line, identification of each pallet in a warehouse, or where a person is located. Figure 1 shows a high-level view of RFID principles. Figure1. High-level view of RFID Tags store information that can be transmitted wirelessly in an automated way. Readers, or interrogators, both stationary and hand-held, read and write information from and to tags. RFID tags are affixed to objects. They are comprised of three parts, as shown in Figure 2. Stored information may be written and rewritten to an embedded chip in the tag. Tags can be read remotely when they detect a radio frequency signal from a reader over a range of distances. Readers then either send tag information over the enterprise network to back-end systems for processing, or display it to the end user.
  • 2. ConvocationIII:Oportunities for RFID Sponsored Research Collaboration Figure2. RFID tags To summarize, the three essential components of an RFID system are:  The RFID tag, with its own data, functions, and physical characteristics  The reader (fixed or portable), or transceiver, which can read data from passive tags and also write data to active tags, with its own functions and physical characteristics  The host, to process the information collected by the readers, with its own hardware, functions, and pre-defined tasks How to locate people in appropriate situations There are several ways to address location, such as global positioning satellite (GPS) technology, but an RFID-enabled location system is an optimal solution because GPS technology has disadvantage of unreliable indoor coverage and quick consumption of power. The goals of an RFID-enabled location system are to: Get the real-time location of individuals who have opted for these services within the tracking scope, be it one floor, an entire building, or other areas covered by the RFID infrastructure Provide more value-added service based on the RFID infrastructure IBM’s position on Privacy Protection In fact, there are many comments about privacy protections issues when RFID is used to people location relevant applications. IBM has clear and strong position on the issue to support and strength privacy protection. I quote the words from Charles Palmer, CTO of Security and Privacy, IBM Research to state the position of the issue from IBM.
  • 3. Paper Collection of 3rd RFID Academic Convocation IBM strives to promote consumer privacy at every level. Although concerns may arise in regards to tracking people with RFID, the intention of IBM is not to promote the tracking of behaviors or locations unknowingly, but to help with safety, security, and well being. For example, in potentially hazardous situations, RFID can be used very effectively to help save and protect lives. In the IBM ATLAS Solution, employees who work in steel mills and oil and chemical refineries can choose to wear an RFID tag on their clothing so they could be automatically identified and located in the event of an emergency. Emergency crews could pinpoint exactly where, and how much, help should be sent. "People tracking" is reserved for applications like this, and is not intended to be used in a consumer environment, such as retail. To protect consumers' privacy, IBM has developed the "Clipped Tag," an invention that allows the antennae to be removed from an RFID tag, rendering it similar to a barcode. The tag can then be read only from one inch away, rather than 30 feet. Find out more about IBM's Clipped Tag here: Also, find out more about how IBM has participated in the development and support of best practices for RFID and privacy put forth by the Center for Democracy and Technology here. Different industry problems call for different applications of RFID technology. The clear benefits of the technology, both for retailers and consumers, must be carefully considered along with the needs and concerns of the consumer to find beneficial solutions for all parties concerned. Users of RFID technology must address privacy, security, and overall architecture and effectiveness. IBM's goal is that privacy and security should not be retrofitted onto the use of the technology, but factored in from the beginning. How to locate people using RFID technology All the pathways and waiting periods will be recorded by a back-end system. Figure 3 shows a situation with RFID-enabled person location. Figure3. Person Location
  • 4. ConvocationIII:Oportunities for RFID Sponsored Research Collaboration This scenario deploys an RFID-enabled infrastructure with a reader and antenna. With the help of the infrastructure, moving pathways and real time locations of all the people with RFID badges will be tracked and recorded in a back-end system. People anti-entry This scenario sends an alert if someone tries to access the unauthorized regions controlled by an RFID-enabled infrastructure. Figure 4 shows an RFID-enabled people anti-entry system. Figure4. Anti-entry In this scenario, I deploy an RFID reader and antenna near the entrance I need to monitor. Unauthorized people who want to enter the protected region will trigger the alarm of the back-end system. Building the RFID-enabled infrastructure is just the first step of a real locator system. Imagine the numerous value-added location-based services that could be provided using people finding, people alerting, people awareness, and more. Location Based Service Potential Services Now let's discuss the general application process of an RFID-enabled system. Figure 5 shows that identification of people is the basis for providing many services.
  • 5. Paper Collection of 3rd RFID Academic Convocation Figure5. Potential services When the RFID-enabled infrastructure is ready, I can deliver recording, real time query, history query, and more to my clients. Solution Architecture A locator system is comprised of hardware and software. Software should be divided into different layers and implemented respectively. Figure 6 shows a common architecture for a project design. Figure6. Reference architecture of an RFID solution Tagged object domain Contains the tagged products in a supply chain or any other assets or locations that are intended to be tracked or monitored, including use of sensors on tags. Because the object and tag are physically attached, they are considered components of the same domain. Antenna and reader device domain
  • 6. ConvocationIII:Oportunities for RFID Sponsored Research Collaboration The interface between the physical world of objects, tags, and radio frequencies and the world of software systems. In the future, more sophisticated functions are expected to move from the edge domain down to readers (for example, event filtering), making readers smarter and able to handle more tasks programmatically. Edge domain Includes filtering and aggregating volumes of data provided by the readers, supporting the analysis of data, and applying local decision making and intelligence. The architecture of this domain needs to be compatible with readers from multiple vendors, and must effectively hide individual reader (and also tag interface) idiosyncrasies from the rest of the infrastructure. The edge domain functions are typically implemented in a low-cost appliance just upstream of the readers, and use embedded software technologies to establish a software stack on the outer edge of the RFID infrastructure. To enable manageability of a production RFID system, deployment aspects are another key aspect that must be addressed. Software updates in the edge domain can be deployed automatically. Premises domain The intermediary between enterprise applications and the edge domain. It filters, aggregates, monitors, and escalates RFID events to detect critical business operations, thereby enabling programmatic decision making. It also tracks and logs all important information on products and locations, and manages downstream components in other domains, such as readers or RFID controllers. The premises domain deals with events on a higher level than the edge domain, such as events that are important in the context of a business operation or process. It can store data, and interacts with enterprise back-end systems through business process integration. Business logic can be specific for a premises' operational requirements. For example, a distribution center for food could have different business logic from a distribution center for hardware, although they belong to the same retail chain and are part of the same hierarchy. Business process integration domain The means of connecting the RFID infrastructure to enterprise applications. While other domains provide a reasonable level of functions out-of-the-box, business process integration typically requires customization to match a given enterprise environment. This domain can be described as a toolbox for business integration. Enterprise and business application domain Contains the existing applications that require information about product movement captured by the RFID infrastructure. Object directory domain Provides information about the physical object using its unique ID as the lookup key. It enables the rapid retrieval of product information and also provides a framework for allowing companies to securely share product information with trading partners. The EPCglobal Network, which is one example of an object directory domain, consists of: Object Naming Service (ONS)
  • 7. Paper Collection of 3rd RFID Academic Convocation Electronic Product Code Discovery Service (EPCDS) Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) Systems management domain Allows customers to get the RFID systems up and keep them running. It allows the capability to remotely deploy and manage applications in a distributed environment. This includes the ability to remotely monitor, configure, or update software and firmware in deployed assets such as antennas, readers, and servers. Hardware Consideration A critical challenge is to choose appropriate hardware for your tagged object domain, and for your antenna and reader domains. This section discusses issues to consider when making that decision. Radio Frequency (RF) ranges RF is electromagnetic waves that have a frequency range of 30 Hz to 300 GHz. RFID typically uses the frequency between 30 Hz and 5.8 GHz. The frequency ranges are broken down into four categories:  Low-Frequency (LF) 125 KHz 134 KHz  High-Frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz  Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) 303.8 MHz 433 MHz 868 MHz  Microwave Frequency (MW) 915 MHz Each category provides unique qualities, and can be used in a variety of ways. The waves generated at different frequencies can pass through many types of materials, but exhibit different characteristics or results. Consider the radio frequency carefully when selecting your device provider. RFID frequency allocation standards are different around the world, as shown in Figure 7. Be sure that any devices or tags you select are compatible with the country standard where they will be used.
  • 8. ConvocationIII:Oportunities for RFID Sponsored Research Collaboration Figure7. RFID frequency allocation standards Software Consideration In a typical locator project, you should plan software for your edge, premises, and business application domains. For the edge and premises domains, I suggest you use middleware products from professional providers including IBM®, Microsoft®, or Sun. Middleware products provide various application interfaces such as JMS message, db record, and more. For the business application domain, you can implement it yourself or delegate it to a professional SI/ISV. In most cases, it should be a single Java™ 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition (J2EE) application deployed on an application server such as WebSphere® Application Server. Typically, the application should implement the general business process shown in Figure 5, and should include three modules: Connector module Communicates with premises domain middleware. Back-end business module Implements all the specific business logic according to customer requirements. Presentation module Shown on the administration console, and includes real time query, historical query, mapping location service, and so on. Deployment Consideration Below are the general, high-level steps for deploying your project.
  • 9. Paper Collection of 3rd RFID Academic Convocation 1) System requirements analysis 2) RFID readers and antennas deployment 3) System software server deployment 4) Network and Infrastructure deployment and testing 5) Application development and testing 6) System integration testing Challenges Consider these challenges to RFID implementation in a business scenario:  People will influence the scope and efforts of RFID readers  Groups of people will mill around and spread out, making monitoring difficult  Complicated moving routes within a building make monitoring difficult  Long and variable distances You should take these factors into consideration when planning RFID devices and application design. Devices Types of devices used in these business scenarios include: LF/HF Used to guard gates, but cannot handle many people entering simultaneously. Passive UHF Frequently used to guard gates, and can handle many people entering simultaneously, but the scope of coverage is limited. Active UHF Provides a strong signal, and can be used in high-end location-based services or special services. You should know the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of each type of RFID device before choosing the one most appropriate for your use case. In most scenarios, I recommend using active devices for location-based services. For guarding a gate, though, the passive UHF device is acceptable. Many RFID reader vendors can provide active devices, such as intermec and symbol.
  • 10. ConvocationIII:Oportunities for RFID Sponsored Research Collaboration Resources IBM WebSphere RFID Handbook: A Solution Guide: This IBM Redbook explains the key products and components included in the WebSphere RFID solution, with a focus on WebSphere RFID Premises Server and Device Infrastructure. Get more information on RFID reader vendors such as Intermec and Symbol. About the author Chen Junwei is a member of the software service team in IBM China. A graduate of Fudan University, he is now working as a technical consultant to help IBM partners and customers design and deliver RFID-enabled solutions in many industries.