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RFID Market

by msecadm4921

Industry data analysts Frost & Sullivan predict 80 per cent of the access control market will use RFID-based by 2006.

Introduction
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It hardly needs saying that the need for improved security is greater today than it’s ever been. It’s a sad indictment of modern society perhaps, exacerbated further by world-wide political tensions, but it’s a challenge that companies and many other non-commercial organizations have little choice but to face up to. A major element in security is access control of course, and today managers are demanding systems that do more than just check badges at the door. New and retrofit systems must control levels of access, grant temporary status, assure authorization, control access to remote company sites or different locations inside a single building as well as car parks, and monitor assets or equipment. From employee badges to biometrics, security managers are evaluating new access control solutions to meet these new challenges with technology that is still simple to use, cost-effective and easy to deploy.
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Most access control systems involve the users carrying an identifying token, usually a card or key-fob. Many systems still use swipe technologies such as mag-stripes or Weigand strips, but the future surely lies with contactless silicon chip products. These are known as Radio Frequency Identification systems or "RFID" systems to use the industry jargon.
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In addition to the cards or tokens carried by the users, RFID systems use handheld or fixed-point readers as well as data input units and system software. Reading devices are available in a variety of forms. They can be built into door-frames or wall sockets or can be mounted on reception desks. An antennae within the reader emits radio signals to activate the tag and read the data. RFID tags are electronically programmed with unique information and are the backbone of the technology. In an increasing number of applications, data can also be re-written to the tag e.g. to update or change details of authorizations etc.
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RFID systems automatically collect information about a product, place, time or transaction quickly, easily and without human error. RFID cards have been available for more than a decade but they are still evolving, improving and delivering higher levels of security. Industry data analysts Frost & Sullivan predict 80% of the access control market will use RFID-based by 2006. The majority of RFID systems deployed to date have been limited by their data communication speed, usually low frequency at 125 kHz, and do not provide significant memory or fast enough data transfer rates to support the higher level security features that the market will need in the future.
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13.56 MHz – Answering the Need
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There are growing demands for solutions that address not only current needs but also provide a platform for new and advanced security technology for the future. The answer to this call is an accelerating use of 13.56 MHz RFID card and reader systems. This high-frequency technology offers more features than lower frequency products at a cost which is competitive to traditional proximity cards. The 13.56 MHz card and reader solutions feature faster data-transfer, low cost at-the-door programmability, a unique ID code and the memory to accommodate new security application such as biometrics etc.
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Modern 13.56 MHz cards can store up to 2000 bits of data, more than 30 times the storage capacity available with most lower frequency products. This increase in memory provides enhanced security through encrypted codes and the capacity to accommodate new hybrid systems such as secure pin number and biometric authentication solutions. The cards use unique tamper-proof ID codes, ensuring that no two cards or people are confused.
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The 2000-bit storage capacity also enables security managers to add a host of new security authorization and information applications. Information such as card revision numbers, facility codes, authorization codes, employee certifications or emergency medical histories can all be stored on the card independently of any host data source. Employees for example, might carry on their badge the name and phone number of a doctor and family member to contact in case of an emergency at work.
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In addition to the increased storage capacity, the read range of a 13.56 MHz system is significantly greater than traditional 125 kHz systems and allows multiple cards to be read at once so people can be processed quickly and accurately. The fast and precise multi-card read zone eliminates read interference common when two or more conventional proximity cards are in the same read field.
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At-the-door programmability is also a key ingredient that makes this solution easy and effective. Currently, the time it takes to issue a conventional low frequency card or update or downgrade an employee’s security status is a problem for security managers. Employees must often go to a designated site where the card is updated or re-issued. With a modern 13.56 MHz card featuring a read-write memory, employee badges can be updated at the door, on-the-fly, even without the employee being aware of the updated status or information now stored on the card. The increasing use of temporary staff and contractors at many organizations has made the ability to program the card at-the-door critical to allowing a contract employee to enter a building, for example, allowi8ng access only on the days they are authorized to be on site. Equally important, a card can be deactivated at the door when that temporary worker leaves at the end of an assignment.
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Some suppliers of 13.56 MHz systems offer on-site user programmability and integration with direct card printer applications, providing additional flexibility and cost savings. Customers can order blank cards as needed, and print/program them on demand. Companies no longer need to keep an inventory of pre-programmed cards or discard unneeded stock as security managers can program and print the cards on-site or disable them as required.
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Standards-Based Technology
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Another major advantage of a 13.56 MHz system is its standards-based architecture. Most 13.56 MHz systems are based on the international ISO 15693 open standard. This standard allows companies and integrators to customize cards and readers for their own use and to use products from multiple suppliers. History tells us that competition from vendors is good for customers in the long term.
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Further benefits to site managers will accrue in the future. For example, it should be noted that 13.56MHz is the same frequency used by contactless smart cards. If at some point in the future you want to extend the use of cards to handle payments in your cafeteria, vending machines or perhaps to record usage at photocopiers, then this is possible without having to change the cards or readers that you’ve installed on your doors for access control.
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Conclusion
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Because 13.56 MHz solutions provide an access control system that is faster, more secure and allows for emerging applications, 13.56 MHz technology is in a position to dominate the access control market. The combination of the price, superior features and standards-basezd technology provide a greatly enhanced access control solution. It’s the kind of solution security managers have been asking for and employees will appreciate.

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