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RFID deployment in pilot countries

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The state of RFID deployment in the six European target countries of the RFID-ROI-SME pilots is quite different. While certain countries present a very good progress in RFID adoption, RFID deployment in others is still in its infancy. The state of RFID deployment in Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom is presented in a brief overview of the respective country.


RFID deployment in Bulgaria

RFID deployment in Bulgaria is still in its infancy. Regarding the regulation of the UHF band, Bulgaria has the following characteristics: 865.6-867.6 MHz, 2 W erp, LBT techniques. RFID deployment in Bulgaria has been mainly introduced based on ISVs, integrators and IT solution providers in areas and markets such as retail, transport and logistics. In countries with such low RFID penetration (such as Bulgaria), publicly funded pilot programs are among the optimal ways to showcase tangible benefits for RFID technology. In particular, pilots such as those organized for STAFF and CABLECOM, could demonstrate the benefits of RFID for the corporate world (notably, SMEs), while also creating a public environment, which welcomes and encourages the adoption of RFID as a new and promising technology.


RFID deployment in Denmark

Denmark is a country with a very good progress in RFID adoption. Along with Belgium and Sweden, Denmark follows the leading EU countries (UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Italy) in RFID adoption. Denmark national policies have (as of January 2005) regulated the UHF band to 865.6-867.6 MHz with a power of 2 W erp and based on the Listen before talk (LBT) techniques. Moreover, within the Danish Standards Association (a non-profit and private independent organisation, which is Denmark's national standardisation body and one of the leading certification enterprises in Denmark), other RFID related standards are developed (e.g., RFID supply chain application standards for containers).

Along with these regulations and standards, we have witnessed over 20 pilots in Denmark during the last years. National policies are in-line with the international status of the country in Pervasive Computing, as well as with the country’s tradition towards creating synergies between research centres and the business community in order to accelerate market development of new business solutions. Indeed, Denmark has centres covering all major research aspects of pervasive computing, including RFID. These centres are constantly supported by weighty government funding, a skilled IT labour force, as well as companies representing every links in the value chain.

In addition to supporting RFID research, development and deployment based on national funding, public bodies are more and more turning to RFID for innovative solutions with a direct impact on the citizens’ lives. As a prominent example, many Danish cities have recently deployed RFID in order to prevent bike thefts, while at the same time reclaiming stolen bikes. Thanks to RFID technology, bikes are able to identify their owners, while also communicating with the authorities when it is stolen. This is an example with high societal impact in Denmark, given that more than 20,000 bikes were stolen in Copenhagen the year before introducing the RFID system.

In addition to public and research deployments, national policies in Denmark attempt to create a business environment that is open to the adoption of this new technology at all levels. In this environment Danish companies understand the need for competent partners with the appropriate technological know-how in order to develop their competitive edge and future products.

RFID-ROI-SME is fully in-line with the above policies, since it encourages the adoption of innovative leading edge RFID solutions for SMEs. The inclusion of ALU and DUF in the RFID-ROI-SME aims at reinforcing their competitiveness as a technology integrator and end-user respectively. It should be noted that despite the prominent role of RFID technology in Denmark, pilots similar to the one proposed by DUF, have not been deployed in the country. This pilot is therefore an effort that complements the various trials that have been organized in the countries.


RFID deployment in Greece


Greece is regulating its UHF band (865.6-867.6 MHz 2 W erp LBT) and is characterized by a moderate number of RFID deployments. The government has been recently funding RFID projects through the Greek Secretariat for Research and Technology. In several of these projects RFID has been explored as an innovation instrument. In the scope of one such project (namely the Regional Innovation Pole of Thessaly), the main supplier of the company STAFF Jean and Co. has managed to establish its first RFID enabled processes, which have later been proven to lead to profitability and direct ROI. One of the pilots of the RFID-ROI-SME project will aim at deploying RFID technology at one of the main retail stores that resells products of the company. Hence, this pilot can be seen as a direct extension of national policies for capitalizing on RFID as an innovation instrument. Overall, the inclusion of KOSKINIDIS, STAFF and SENSAP in the consortium facilitates Greek national policies for reinforcing SMEs in the scope of the financial crisis. In addition, it boosts the competitiveness of Greek SMEs through IT (RFID) technology, which is among the long-standing targets of the Greek economy.


RFID deployment in Italy


Italy is among the EU countries that lead RFID deployment. Its UHF band has been regulated with the following characteristics: 865.6-867.6 MHz, 2 W erp, LBT). Only temporary licenses are available due to conflict with band allocated to tactical relays military application. RFID in Italy enjoys acceptance within the state, as evident in various deployments. For example, the Ministry of Health in Italy has issued a decree-law which imposes the need for pharmaceuticals traceability, i.e., every single medicine unit should be traceable from the production lines up to the pharmacy desk (through all the intermediate distributors). RFID technology is the primary choice for implementing this regulation. Moreover, Italian citizens use RFID-enabled ID cards. Also, more than 50 pilot RFID deployments can be witnessed in Italy. Italy through Ente Italiano di Unificazione (UNI). Indicod ECR, which is an institute that associates more than 30.000 industrial enterprises of large consumption and active modern distribution in Italy, is participating actively in RFID ISO standardization. With reference to the RFID, Indicod-Ecr is taking care of the diffusion in Italy of the EPC standard, developed by EAN International in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The participation of Italian SME companies (SATA, RETE, BRIDGE129), along with the CNAMilano association in the consortium, is fully in-line with Italian policies towards maintaining Italy’s leading position in RFID deployment. As already outlined, RFID-ROI-SME aims at supporting RFID deployments for SMEs. The fact that Italy has a track record of numerous deployments could ease the penetration of RFID in SMEs. The present project will provide some tangible and innovative showcases, which will be then disseminated widely based on the respective association.


RFID deployment in Spain

Spanish legislation and policies tend to: (a) Follow closely European standards, and (b) Copy/Apply Legislation coming from the EU. Spain has developed considerable awareness associated with the potential of RFID technologies. Nevertheless, the number of deployments (including pilots) is still quite low: Spain has a moderate track record in RFID projects. Spain has (since 2007) regulated its UHF band (865.6-867.6 MHz; 2 W erp; LBT). EPCGlobal has been lately represented in Spain by the Spanish Association of Commercial Codification (AECOC), which is nowadays one of largest business associations in Spain. Originally, AECOC was responsible for the regulation of barcode usage. Nowadays, it also assumes consulting roles in various areas including logistics, marketing, commerce, codification and food safety. A new centre has also been established under AECOC, namely the EPC Competence Centre (EPC CC). EPC CC provides a range of services to support Spanish companies to develop and implement RFID equipment, tags and software applications. Besides EPC-global related activities and establishments, there are other initiatives (e.g., IDTrack). IDTrack is the European Association for Sure&Secure Identification.

Apart from institutions, there are also companies (e.g., LipSoft Electronics www.lipsoftelectronics.com), which incorporate RFID as a main business activity. Recently we are witnessing more and more RFID deployments, some of them are bigger in size/scale (http://www.bibliotheca-rfid.com/Biggest_RFID_project_in_Spain_CSIC). In line with the gradual proliferation of RFID deployments in Spain, the RFID-ROI-SME consortium includes three SME companies, in particular one RFID solution provider (i.e. ALU Group) and one end-user SME (PICDA). These companies will work together towards two novel RFIDs that will showcase the potential benefits of RFID technology for SMEs. In addition the consortium includes one local association for disseminating the results.


RFID deployment in the United Kingdom

UK is among the EU countries that are leading RFID deployment. It has an established track record with over 255 RFID projects. At a national level, UK has regulated (since the beginning of 2007) the UHF band (865.6-867.6 MHz 2 W erp and LBT technique). Furthermore, RFID is being deployed in public services and infrastructures, prominent examples being:

• British Passports: The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) has implemented RFID based techniques and systems, aiming at preventing identity and passport fraud. In March 2006, it launched the Biometric Passport, and in July 2006 IPS issued the millionth biometric passport to a member of the UK public. The British biometric passport is currently based on a digital image rather than fingerprinting.

Fingerprinting is however being considered by the United Kingdom Passport Service.

• British Libraries: RFID is being deployed at libraries in England and Scotland, and on the basis of a national ID or library card.

Despite its leading position in RFID deployment, there are still gaps that can be solved. For example, even in the UK, there have not been several large scale interoperability trials where multiple Information Sharing repositories (e.g., EPCIS nodes) from multiple organizations are linked together for data exchange. Hence, RFID-ROI-SME targets trials and results, which could further advance RFID deployment in the UK. The emphasis on SMEs is another factor, which is particularly interesting for UK organizations. SERO and SOVEREIGN SECURITY will provide a good showcase of RFID deployment. Furthermore, the United Kingdom IT Association (UKITA) will undertake the important role of spreading key RFID-ROI-SME messages to its members and possible wide audiences in the UK.