RFID Offers Tracking, Disaster Response Capabilities For Education Market

AT&T Inc. recently announced the availability of interoperable RFID and GPS-based mobile resource management (MRM) solutions for the K-12 education segment. The solutions will enhance visibility into the facility and vehicular operations of K-12 institutions, increasing staff productivity, reducing costs and improving student safety.

AT&T is the first network services company to provide comprehensive and integrated RFID and MRM solutions for the education marketplace. AT&T's RFID application works in conjunction with MRM location-based services that use GPS technology, AT&T's wireless data network and specialized hosted and managed applications.

These applications enable K-12 institutions to track school bus locations, monitor their speed and condition while on the road and report on events within vehicles. The service enables school districts to improve student safety and to save money by routing their school buses as efficiently as possible -- cutting down on fuel, maintenance and labor expenses.

MRM relays vehicle location, speed and other data across the AT&T wireless data network and sends it to a secure Web site portal. Both RFID and MRM data are available to designated educators and administrators who have access to a Web browser.

The integration of RFID and MRM applications is especially beneficial when trying to ensure the safety of students when they're on their way to and from school. Deploying RFID readers in addition to tracking devices on school buses enables educators to determine when students get on or off, as well as the location of buses when they're en route.

The company's RFID application works with any 802.11 standards-based wireless LAN infrastructure and offers precise, on-demand tracking. Wi-Fi-based RFID tags, placed on ID badges that can be secured to equipment, bracelets, shirt pockets or book bags, send a wireless signal to locate, monitor and report on assets, students and educators.

The system can also be used for asset tracking to minimize theft of high-value equipment and assets, including computers, projectors, laptop carts and lab equipment. Also, because many of assets are mobile, locating them can be difficult in a large school building. Active RFID allows the teachers and staff to easily locate these assets, saving time and optimizing inventory.

Other applications include daily attendance tracking, school-visitor tracking and disaster response.

"In today's world of K-12 education, enhanced visibility regarding the location of students, teachers and valuable assets is crucial," said Bill Hughes, principal analyst for wireless research group, In-Stat. "By introducing mobile technology, such as RFID and MRM, school districts can save time, eliminate unnecessary costs, reduce theft and unnecessary inventory and, most important, enhance student and teacher safety."

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