December 12, 2007
AT&T on Wednesday began providing radio-frequency identification and GPS-based products and services that schools can use to track students, assets, visitors, and their staff.
AT&T's RFID application is designed to work in conjunction with GPS-based mobile resource management services, as well as the carrier's wireless data network and hosted applications. With AT&T's offering, schools can track people or assets by placing Wi-Fi-based RFID tags on ID badges attached to equipment, bracelets, shirt pockets, or book bags. The mobile resource management system would then relay the location of the tagged person or asset over AT&T's wireless data network to a secure Web site portal. The data would be accessible by authorized personnel that have access to a Web browser. Through the use of active RFID, meaning tags that send out a signal to broadcast their location, schools can potentially minimize theft of high-value equipment and assets like computers and lab equipment. It would also make it easier to locate mobile equipment in a large building, such as a school, said AT&T. Supplying students with RFID badges would help with daily attendance in schools and help the staff identify students who are absent by importing information in the student-information databases. The same could be applied to school visitors, especially to prevent them from entering unauthorized areas. AT&T also said its system could aid in emergency situations, helping locate school staff to make sure that nobody is left in the building if evacuation were necessary. One other application is the tracking of school buses to ensure student safety and help school districts route buses more efficiently. In this case, RFID readers and tracking devices would be placed on the buses to get location data. AT&T would design, deploy, and manage the mobile devices and applications, the network, and data centers, in addition to the infrastructure that includes RFID readers, tags, data-collection servers, LANs, wireless LANs, firewalls, and routers.
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