RFID technology is sweeping the globe. Its ability to track assets, inventory, shipments, etc. is incredible. If you haven’t explored the advantages of RFID yet, it’s time. There is one RFID solution that is garnering attention in recent news. Mustering. Mustering in terms of, the gathering of people, is a lifesaving use of RFID Technology. It’s important to understand how it works, how it helps the business, and how it impacts lives.
The Alberta Wildfire
Wildfires move quickly and unpredictably
Suncore Energy is an integrated energy company based out of Calgary, Alberta. In 2016 their oilsands upgrader, located about 500 miles north of Calgary, and everyone working there were exposed to a dangerous wildfire. Many lives were in jeopardy. As the employer, Suncore was responsible for the safety of all its’ employees as the flames approached. They needed a way to ensure all of the workers were out safely. Fortunately, they had a system in place for this type of catastrophe.[note]Healing, Dan (2017, Apr 12) Alberta Wildfire Evacuation Highlights Growing Use of Tracking Workers Using RFID http://www.brandonsun.com/national/breaking-news/alberta-wildfire-evacuation-highlights-growing-use-of-tracking-workers-using-rfid-419231294.html[/note]
Every worker at the Suncore facility is equipped with a key fob that contains an active RFID tag. If you aren’t familiar with the differences between active and passive RFID tags, take a quick look at this article. The main advantage with active tags is that they have a very long read range. With only a few tag reading antennas set up throughout the facility, Suncore was able to, in real-time, see exactly how many employees were inside the facility at the time of the fire. While this didn’t give them insight as to exactly where someone was, it gave them a general location, and it could determine if everyone had been evacuated. This proved to be instrumental in ensuring that everyone was safely removed from danger.This is one type of RFID fob an employee would carry with them at work.
Without RFID technology in Suncore’s situation, lives may have been lost. Search and rescue teams might have taken unnecessary risks in an attempt to scan the grounds and ensure everyone was out safely. Knowing everyone was out of the area without automated RFID technology would’ve been a logistical nightmare. Having this type of mustering RFID technology proved to be essential and simply put, like insurance; you have it, but hope never to have to use it.
Now, some people are concerned about privacy issues with a tracking device like this on their person. It’s important to know that these RFID fobs only work inside the facility, where the antennas are located. When employees leave the facility the fobs are essentially inactive. They can’t track the person at home, in the car, or anywhere else outside the reach of the antennas.
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