RFID (or radio frequency identification) tags are intelligent bar codes that communicate and track items or people. First, they detect the item through an electronic reader, which then communicates the information back to a central network system.
RFID, originally a tracking technology used for cattle, can now virtually track a multitude of consumer items. For instance, RFID can literally eliminate annoying lineups at the campus bookstore by detecting every book you put in your cart or every textbook rental. After the textbook is tracked, the required information is sent to the publisher, and finally the amount of your total bill is deducted from your bank account for payment. RFID is pretty convenient huh?
- Well currently, RFID is being used to track almost everything, from:
- Retail merchandise
- Airline or bus passengers
- Hospital patients
- And even student attendance…
RFID has some clear benefits as far as its use in a college environment—benefiting the safety and convenience of students, instructors—and even decreasing theft and loss of college materials, such as textbooks, lab tools and other campus property.
1. RFID in libraries
In the campus library, RFID is used to keep a detailed account of library materials, drastically reducing the library budget. For instance, any book checked out is instantly scanned with no room for human error. So if a book is lost or stolen, the cost of that book is immediately billed to the student who loaned it. RFID can also be used to benefit the campus library in the following ways:
- To speed up the check-in or check-out of library materials
- To improve the accuracy of the library catalogue
- To reduce and deter theft
- To instantly track lost or overdue books
2. RFID for student ID
Many universities across the U.S., including the University of Chicago and the Northern Arizona University, are using RFID to track students. Each student is issued a smart card that they will keep on their person at all times. The student card contains personal information such as the student’s name, photo, year, school name and the four-digit school ID number. The RFID smartcard also takes care of accurate student and staff attendance.
3. RFID amps up campus security
College departments, like the El Paso Health Sciences Center at Texas Tech University, have integrated RFID in order to up campus security—both for student and for auditing and tracking departmental assets (in this case to track microscopes and other lab tools). Students and professors also require an RFID smart card in order to gain entry into campus buildings, which cuts down the loss or theft of keys to expensive or vital college property, and RFID grants secure access to controlled areas like labs, dorm rooms, or offices.
4. RFID as payment
RFID also enables electronic payment of any item a student needs on campus. The student can load their smart card with money for various items and pay for things like:
- Cafeteria meal points
- Vending machine and dining hall snacks and beverages
- School supplies and textbooks at the campus book store
- Hair cuts
- School swag
- Tickets to student events