Asset Protection Technology

CCTV, access control, RFID and IR technologies all enhance the new picture of asset protection.


The passive technology has also been replaced with more active systems in which the miniature transmitter has a built-in power source. These systems can transmit the signal at much greater distances. With this increased capability comes the ability to transmit an individual signal that separately identifies each item. Depending on the size of the areas being covered, RF or IR technology receivers could be positioned in a work environment to determine the exact location of tagged assets in the facility.

This technology can also be used to track personnel. Remember the computer on Star Trek telling Captain Kirk where a particular crewman was located on the Enterprise by tracking the communicator on his chest? Well, today's technology would allow transmitters the size of small nametags to be carried by all personnel at a work site. Receivers in each room would then track the location of each employee. This may sound a little too much like Big Brother, but in a work environment where the location of all employees is important in times of emergency, this technology might quickly reduce search-and-rescue response times.

We are also seeing luxury vehicles now on the market that refuse to start unless they identify an authorized driver in the driver's seat. The authorized driver has a special transmitter card in his or her wallet. When the individual sits in the vehicle, the card tells the vehicle the person is authorized to punch the button on the dash to start the engine without using a key. These systems even allow the cards for each authorized driver to automatically tell the vehicle how to adjust the driver's seat and what radio station to tune to.

The newer technology also brings enhanced security protection. The next generation of wireless radio frequency transmitters used for access control and personal security is being introduced. As the demand for more sophisticated security systems increases, the popularity of data encryption and error checking has soared. These features ensure that data transmitted via RF is secure and error free. Data is transmitted as a string of bits that is read by a receiver. The longer the string, the more sophisticated the error detection and encryption, and the harder it is to crack the code. With the introduction of 64-bit codes, Active Control has shattered the previous standard of 26 bits and provided the industry with a powerful new security tool.

For an organization with hundreds of laptop computers, this RF technology could solve many concerns. For example, IBM introduced IR security technology into some of its laptops. IBM “Asset ID” RF-enabled technology was intended to help companies keep track of their notebooks by providing an RFID tag that can be read by a handheld RF scanner. The tracking system stores information about each ThinkPad that has the feature enabled. In a building equipped with an RF security sensor, the ThinkPad will automatically become password protected if removed without permission.

One thing to remember if you are thinking of adding this type of technology to your laptops or other assets: Make sure you are not voiding any manufacturers' warranties when you open your laptops or other electronic hardware to insert these RF devices. Another thing to remember is that these transmitters can be blocked by some metals, so an individual placing the asset in certain containers may bypass the sensors. If you are going to use these technologies, it may be important not to advertise you are using them.

Keep an open mind about how you can integrate these RF and IR tracking systems with your other security systems to make the whole asset protection process more efficient. For example, you may have RF receivers at the exits of your facility. You may have 1,000 laptops in the facility, each equipped with an individual RF transmitter, which authorized employees may take off-site. With an integrated system, as a laptop is taken out of the facility, the RF receiver may transmit to your access control system the RF identification number of the portable computer. The access control system stores the date, time and location where the laptop passed. This can also be integrated with your CCTV system to provide you a picture of the person carrying the laptop. If you want to be real fancy and have entry/exit turnstiles at the facility, the system can determine if the individual identified by the turnstile is also authorized to be removing that particular laptop.