Mick Fortune: RFID

Mick starting with summary of how RFID being used beyond ‘self-issue’

Library 24 – Verona – book dispenser machine
Automated Receiving – book store in Maastricht – scan whole boxes of books in one go
Library in Trafford in Manchester doing the same now
Lyngby in Denmark – Book sorter with smart trolleys
National Library of Singapore – Smart Shelves – but very expensive – and National Library of Singapore wrote library system from scratch based around the concept of RFID
Finally – NFC phones – another form of RFID.

Mick says we’ve become lazy in libraries – using RFID as a synonym for self-service. We need to stop this, and look at how libraries can exploit wider range of possibilities

RFID enabled (smart)phone, plus wristband = Wrist computers – library staff who can walk around the library, and answer enquiries and even issue books on the spot…

Now Mick looking back – where are we now, and how did we get here?

Running an issue/circulation desk is major cost for library. So obvious economic driver for self-service …
Self service has two main requirements:

  • rapid circulation
  • security

Library RFID has two key attributes – mutliple transaction handling and security – so good match!

UK is heavily investing in library RFID. Surveys show that librarians mostly seek advice from other librarians and from suppliers – may have created a ‘me too’ effect
But the obvious & immediate benefits of self-service may have obscured underlying interoperability issues

The ‘self service’ solution have shaped library thinking about RFID is capable of

Mick says Development has been slow (compared to other technologies and markets).
Librarian feel they want more from RFID – but not sure how to get it… RFID companies want to offer more – but need LMS help to develop ..
Lack of common RFID standard discourages LMS from developing functionality

Mick says – RFID suppliers have tended to develop their solutions in isolations; LMS intengration is mostly limited to using SIP. Work going on to come up with new protocol (name?) to deal with this type of interaction – at same time 3M is apparently working on ‘SIP v3’ – although Mick says those working on the new protocol have offered their work to 3M if they wished to adopt it for SIP v3

Some misconceptions around RFID:

  • It threatens privacy – very unlikely – lack of information on the tags
  • It threatens jobs – well, sort of – operational decision (e.g. at RHUL we implemented RFID to improve customer experience and redeploy, not cut, staff)
  • It’s too complex – there is complexity, but many of the ‘possibilities’ are not actually available, so much of the technical detail not relevant
  • It’s very simple – can be an issue that RFID just seen as a new kind of barcode, and nothing more

Mick thinks that the fact UK has adopted RFID ahead of major LMS markets (i.e. USA), there hasn’t been motivation for LMS vendors to invest [maybe, but then wouldn’t that allow Talis e.g. to steal a march?]. Hopefully the adoption of RFID across international markets will change this.

At the moment RFID purchase is a Hobson’s Choice:
97.8% of RFID installation buy their entire RFID solution from a single supplier
There is (almost) no competition once an RFID supplier is chosen
Many new products – but they are all proprietary
Standardisation seems to be of more interest to RFID suppliers than to librarians! (RFID suppliers see the opportunities it opens up)

What is to be done?

Common data standards – currently every RFUID supplier uses their own… new installation are insisting on ISO 28560-2 and the UK Data Model
Four UK RFID companies have pledged to support the new standard
Three of them claim “interoperability” will be available for new installations
Only one has produced fully compliant tags

Common communication framework – essentially a replacement for SIP
Three RFID companies are working with BIC to develop a new communication framework
Only a few LMS suppliers have shown any interest in the work
3M have announced the development of SIP 3.0
NCIP still considering a separate protocol for self-service

Change the way you buy:
Procurement needn’t be a major undertaking [not sure it is this simple – there will be restrictions for public orgs]
Frameworks mitigate against change and increase costs
Buy what you want, from where you want

RFID suppliers are v supportive and want to see change – encouraging libraries to ask for the new data standards – but Mick says libraries still don’t seem to be doing this.

Merger and partnership deals continue apace – 3m and Lyngsoe; Bibliotheca and ITG; Bibliotheca and Intellident

Service needs to change with the industry:

RFID creates intelligent stock – using it for only self-service doesn’t give maximum ROI.

Simple Manifesto for RFID:

  • Standardis on a single data model (UKDM)
  • Support work being done on LMS integration

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