Our honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the Digital India campaign last year. It is a visionary initiative to ensure last mile reach of services rendered by the government by improving the internet infrastructure and connectivity, especially in rural India.
While Digital India is a great beginning, I believe that RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) will play a vital role in successful implementation of the Digital India dream. RFID is the cornerstone of a digital initiative.
With RFID, identification of assets – both material and human – becomes cost-effective and easy. It further enables easy identification, information management etc. of goods and products that are transported across the supply chain thus bringing increased efficiency and effectiveness in our lives. I would like to illustrate this with a few examples.
The Digital Parking System
The digital parking systems of the future will leverage RFID to enable communication between the parking lot and the vehicle owners. The RFID tag on the car ( now made compulsory by the Govt.) will communicate with the sensors in the parking lot to enable the car owners/ drivers to enter the parking lot and easily find available parking space indicated by LED’s controlled by ultrasonic sensors in the parking slots. Using a mobile application, the drivers can not only check for available space but also reserve the parking slot for themselves. This saves time and enhances efficiency for managing parking lots. It also enables the administration of the parking lot of malls, multiplexes etc. to have a clear data on the demand-supply equation and accordingly decide on differential pricing. This will enable them to earn better for the space offered. As the cities are always congested, vehicle owners can always check the nearby parking spaces, the cost at which it is offered etc. and reserve an appropriate parking slot.
One of the major initiatives of the Modi Govt is to create Smart Village to ensure that benefits of digitisation are available to the majority of Indians who reside in our villages. A combined use of the Adhaar Card and RFID technologies can enable positive identification of an individual. This will be the first step towards ensuring that the services meant for the poor are actually received by them and is not pilfered by the middle man. It will thus ensure last mile reach of the Government’s services as well as the benefits and subsidies it intends to offer the rural population.
Public Distribution System
Public distribution system (PDS) is a joint initiative by the Indian state and central government to distribute essential commodities such as wheat, rice, and kerosene to people living in India through Fair Price Shops (FPS) at affordable price. It helps to eradicate poverty and ensure nutrition to the economically backward population. PDS can leverage RFID for a number of advantages including addressing mismanagement, corruption, and pilferage.
RFID captures accurate and detailed information at each stage of the supply chain. RFID helps PDS supply chain in collating the information on time of harvest of grains, the duration it was stored in a warehouse, packaging and transportation details, real-time tracking of the packaged grains and also point of sale information. By combining GPS technologies, RFID can track and save all relevant information about the packed commodities in transit.
By storing information on key parameters such as moisture content, product quality, date of harvest, packaging, transportation mechanism etc., the RFID tag passes relevant information at each stage of the supply chain thus, enhancing efficiency and reducing food wastage. This helps the nation to improve the health of its population and saves them from diseases, especially the ones caused by undernourishment.
Power distribution system
Electric power distribution system is another area where there is a lot of pilferage and unwarranted intrusions that may come from electricity generation to consumption. An efficient RFID system enables tracking of the system, collecting usage details and saving from unwarranted losses and thefts. A few uses of RFID technology in electric power distribution are as below:
- RFID enables securing residential electricity meters by one time use RFID tagging, recording authentic data about the meters and monitoring them, thereby reducing theft
- RFID improves service quality and productivity
- RFID enhances speed of data collection on usage and distribution in a mobile environment
- RFID tagging greatly enhances asset and inventory management thereby reducing cost of repurchase
Toll collection systems
When a car enters the automated toll collection lane, a UHF RFID reader in the toll booth constantly emits a signal which reads the passive tag on the car windscreen that enter the read field. The RFID tag wakes in response and flashes its EPC ID to the Reader. This EPC ID is routed to the computer which matches it with the driver’s pre-stored information and deducts amount to his account appropriately. This not only saves time, it also enables both the vehicle owner and the administration of the toll to efficiently navigate and manage the toll respectively.
The way ahead
Digital is surely the way to go. The efforts we put towards Digital India initiatives are sure to reap rich dividends for us. We are at an opportune moment to ensure the use of RFID across all such initiatives helps India to enter the select group of advanced countries – forever shedding the tag of a developing country.