RFID and Video Surveillance: Perfect match for asset tracking

When you have the ability to combine analytics, transaction data and other business data with video surveillance, you have a strong approach that more and more organizations are taking to give them an operational insight and improve performance and efficiency.

The idea of marrying data and video is not new to systems integrators who are working hard to stay current with the ever changing technology so they can advise their customers and help them solve business challenges with a higher success rate. That is one reason why the concept of integrating radio frequency identification (RFID) data with video is gaining traction so quickly. The solution offers organizations – especially retailers – an effective and efficient tool for tracking assets, safeguarding costly objects and merchandise, investigating suspected theft and inventory management improvements.

With this solution that integrates high-definition video and RFID data, integrators now have something that represents a new opportunity to help customers improve ROI by leveraging the video and RFID technologies that they may already have in place. It also enables forward-thinking integrators to expand their portfolios to drive business with new and existing customers in markets starting from retail and beyond.

 

RFID 101
When people refer to RFID tags, sometimes referred to as RFID chips or inlays, they contain electronically stored data that is transmitted via radio waves whenever an RFID antenna activates the otherwise passive tag. This stored information can consist of many different types of data an organization requires – including item or serial numbers, vehicle identifiers or electronic product codes, making it extremely useful for inventory tracking and management.

With the volume of RFID tags reaching the billions being deployed in retail apparel alone, with estimates suggesting just 15 percent of that addressable market has been served to date. The total value of the RFID market is expected to approach more than $18 billion by 2026, according to IDTechEx Research.

When you look at two similar but different technologies, RFID technology is different from Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS), which most people recognize as the often bulky or hard plastic tags attached to clothes and other merchandise in retail stores. EAS tags contain no item-specific data and are designed to simply trigger an alarm if they are not removed or deactivated prior to passing the antenna portal. Some predict that RFID technology will eventually replace EAS, another approach is to combine the two capabilities so organizations can access valuable item-specific data as well as maintain the alarm functionality.

There is a wide range of applications using the RFID technology effectively. Renowned guitar maker Fender has reportedly embedded more than 30,000 RFID tags to uniquely identify its guitars. The data can be read by Fender dealers and repair shops, and if a guitar is believed to be stolen, it can also be read by police to help determine the instrument’s real owner.

RFID data is being used by Casinos as well. They are embedding RFID tags into gambling chips to track spending and prevent theft; factories are using it to help measure how long it takes to build a product; and of course retailers – both large and small – are increasingly deploying RFID tags for inventory tracking, loss prevention and more.

Authenticity is another growing field for RFID tag useage – whether it is a $20,000 limited edition Stratocaster, a $100 casino chip or a $2,000 Louis Vuitton handbag.

RFID being married to Video
What will adding video to the mix give you when RFID is being used and deployed on its own already? RFID transactions and other data can help identify what has likely happened, only video can reveal how it happened and who was involved.

A retailer will be able to determine that a missing RFID-tagged 4K television was last detected by a reader mounted at the backdoor in one of its locations. The assumption will probably be that the item has been stolen; however an integrated video and RFID solution can provide the next level of detail, enabling the retailer to search on the electronic product code (EPC) contained in the RFID tag and click on a link to view the associated video. The recorded video may show that an employee passed the television out the backdoor to an unknown person.

This enables the retailer to verify that the item was, in fact, stolen and provide clear video evidence that could be used to identify the unknown participant, deal with the thieving employee and recover the cost of the lost item.

There are numerous applications for integrated video and RFID data. Systems integrators will discover that customers are quick to suggest additional uses once they understand the capabilities of the solution. Interesting customer suggestions we have encountered include using video and RFID data to:

  • track and manage pharmaceutical distribution;
  • protect valuable antiques and artwork in high-end banking branches; and
  • confirm that high-end merchandise is intact at the moment it is transferred to a courier company for fulfillment delivery, in case items arrive damaged.

There are many more and will be continuing to rise as customers and integrators find ways to utilize these two important technologies. Using integrated video and RFID data is almost limitless.

Consider these products
Flexibility and performance are very important things to consider. Systems integrators should look for solutions that include easy-to-use reporting software with robust search capabilities that enable customers to run searches across a few or thousands of locations simultaneously. Automated alerts that enable organizations to proactively respond to abnormalities– such as high-value items being removed from a location without first being captured on an order – are also ideal.

Systems integrators need to think about the upfront preparation they will need to confidently propose integrated video and RFID solutions to customers and guide them through the adoption process. The solution they choose to adopt should come with technology expertise and support on both video and RFID systems, and offer certification training. Most integrators have a high degree of knowledge on one side or the other.

These systems integrators need to start educating themselves on video and RFID integration. Adding this expertise only enables your organization to build a new competency that addresses a high-growth market. It will enable integrators to provide a differentiated offering to customers, along with the advice and expertise that they are looking for to help them compete more effectively.

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