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University of Wisconsin targets RFID to track rifles and handguns

The University of Wisconsin is relying on RFID technology to track the AR15 rifles and Glock handguns carried by its police force. The solution, which went live on Monday, relies on passive RFID tags applied to each weapon, and is mainly a compliance-driven solution.

The University of Wisconsin is no stranger to RFID technology. The campus opened its own RFID Research Lab in 2005, and has conducted many industry-leading trials there.

The deployment represents the first non-government weapons tracking client for ODIN technologies, an Ashburn, Va.-based full-scale RFID solutions provider that has implemented several weapons tracking solutions for government agencies.

“It’s a small police force but the important thing is they had tried to do RFID tracking before and couldn’t get it to work, so when they put out this RFP they were keenly focused on the physics and high read rates,” says ODIN founder Patrick Sweeney, author of RFID for Dummies. “So it’s very much like other folks who have started down the path of RFID and couldn’t make it work, but they’ve come back and they know what to look for now.”

The University of Wisconsin is required to track each weapon assigned to officers on every shift. Prior to RFID, the department relied on a manual process that required police officers to record information on a sign-in sheet at the start of their shift. As with any manual process, mistakes occurred frequently, especially during hectic shift changes. Tagged weapons are now associated with each officer’s security credentials.

“It’s a big way for them to save money on the compliance process because they have to go through this process on a regular basis,” says Sweeney. “It was a very laborious process. They need to make sure this information is recorded each time an officer goes through the door, so they were going back and auditing video files and everything else. This will be a lot more efficient from an operational perspective.”

The solution could be a hit with state and municipal police forces, given the budget crunch many law enforcement groups are faced with. Many municipalities have had to layoff officers because of budget cuts. Therefore, increased productivity is crucial.

“We’re getting a lot of interest in this already,” says Sweeney. “It’s something we’ve developed a very specific solution for.”

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