Smart ID tags free up staff

Dunedin City Council arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke displays a new radio frequency identification tag on a book at the Dunedin City Library. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Dunedin City Council arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke displays a new radio frequency identification tag on a book at the Dunedin City Library. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Dunedin libraries are preparing to go live with a sophisticated new radio tracking system that will help monitor lending stock.

During the past three months, Dunedin Public Libraries staff have been fitting radio frequency identification tags to more than 350,000 items at the Dunedin City, Port Chalmers, Blueskin Bay and Waikouaiti Libraries as part of a $1.15 million monitoring system upgrade.

Dunedin City Council arts and culture group manager Bernie Hawke said the technology had been around for about 50 years and was historically used in the postage and transportation industries.

Early versions of the technology were bulky but now the tags resembled a thin plastic sticker.

''They are a computer circuit that has a transmitting aerial as part of the tag. It lies flat and is fitted to the inside back cover of the book.''

Mr Hawke said it allowed the library to do more with items than was possible with the previous bar code system.

''We can encode on to the tag a range of information, like the author, the title and the home location of the book. When that item is brought within a certain proximity of the reader pads, the reader pads can read that information on the tag.

''What it means is that instead of customers coming to a self-issue kiosk and checking out one book at a time as you currently do, you can actually put half a dozen items or more on the pad and they all get checked out simultaneously.

''Similarly, when items are returned through the return chutes, the books can be automatically checked back as they pass through the chute, rather than having staff do it manually.''

Mr Hawke said it also allowed staff to do more effective shelf-checking.

''We will have some hand-held readers that can be pre-programmed with information on a particular section in the library.

''We can move them along the shelves and they will know which items are out on loan and what ones are meant to be on the shelves, and it will emit a signal if a book is out of sequence or missing.''

Like the present system, it will also set off the security alarms if someone tries to take an unchecked book out of the library, he said.

''All in all, it frees up library staff and allows us to work more with the customers.''

Mr Hawke said the city library would also have an automated sorting machine. When items went through the return chutes, the machine would read the tags and send them to different bins. However, that part of the system was not expected to be operational until later this year.

The new radio frequency identification system was expected to go live on Monday at Dunedin City Library, followed by Mosgiel Library on Tuesday, Port Chalmers Library on Wednesday and Blueskin Bay and Waikouaiti Libraries on Thursday.


A neat trick

Albert - I think meta-physics is a whole other discipline.

There is a trick to being a good conductor of static electricity, it's not wearing the van-allen belt, though that does look cool up on stage, it's using a metal baton.

Van Allen Belt

MikeSt, we knew you are a bright spark, but had no idea you are a metaphysicist. Great comment. I was let go from Radio FOBIA, then kicked out of hospital for being a conductor of static electricity. Really, I blame the commercial grade carpet.

Radio phobia

Light (and especially UV) is an 'ionising radiation', its photons have an energy in the range of ~2eV- standing in the sun exposes you to ~170 watts/square meter - the photons used in the wifi band are ~2million times less energetic at around 1 micro-ev - wifi power is limited to 100milli watt - your neighbour's wifi 100m away, thanks to the inverse square law will have a signal strength of .03 micro-watt.

So doing the maths, sunshine has photons 2 million times stronger than wifi and outside you are exposed to about 5 billion more of them every second than you are by your neighbour's wifi. If you are really worried I suggest you stay inside and avoid the light and forget about the wifi, you will be 2 million times 5 billion  - about 10 quadrillion times - safer.

"Fast rise  square waves" - really? No one is allowed to sell consumer equipment that radiates outside the frequency bands assigned to them. If they do there are government agencies that come calling and may take them away from you. Sure, electronic equipment uses 'square waves' - but they take great care not to radiate them outside their enclosures. Even if they did the power of the high frequency components drop off linearly with each harmonic - trading photon energy with flux density. If you know of something that is genuinely radiating in this way please give the government a call, they'll take care of you.

I think there is hypersensitivity involved in this radio-phobia, but it's not the body but the mind that suffers.

Another question

Farsighted, were you using spellcheck when you wrote "Was the complaint about "hypersensitivity to electrosmog" typed in on a computer?"  Did you mean to write 'hypersensitivity to' or  'hypochondria re'?  Just checking.

Digital radiation

Thank you MikeStk for sharing your knowledge of this subject, though there is room for expansion.

Life evolved in sunlight and makes use of many of the frequencies coming from the sun at the levels found in nature. It has not yet evolved to handle fast-rise square waves which don't exist in the natural world. These are making people and many other living things sick. It has nothing to do with heat, which the mamalian body handles very well. Because living entities are all different the dose of non-ionising radiation they can tolerate is different and unpredictable. It has not been possible so far to predict when a person will pass the tipping pont and become hypersensitive. I am glad you are are not yet in this cohort.

It is always better to find out by asking the right questions before judging. 

RFID tags

Thanks Overit for you sensible answer. It makes the tags acceptable to many of my clients who are hypersensitive to EMR.

Real librarians

Mr Hawke should explain if the new tech is related to the staff restructuring of Dunedin Public Libraries.


Was the complaint about "hypersensitivity to electrosmog" typed in on a computer?  Just asking.

No radiation

Sigh - I'm sure these are passive tags (unless the plan is to have some poor sod in the library who'd job it is to change the batteries in the books). They are not self powered, instead they use a tiny bit of the energy used by the reader to talk to them to power them while being read.

You wont have a problem with any radiation whatsoever from your books, unless you also steal the checkout machine and take it home with you. Even then it will be harmless.

If you're really worried about this nonsense 'environmental radiation' you had better worry about your grandparent's AM radios, TV, cell phones, satellite TV, police radios, and of course the signal emitted by the mains wiring in your home, and of course the heat from your stove and the sun. Of course you are far far more at risk from the radiation from the sun or burning yourself by standing too close to the fire with the high energy photons from the visual bands rather than the much less energetic ones in the radio bands.

How RFID works - simplified

At a basic level, each tag works in the same way:

  • Data­ stored within an RFID tag's microchip waits to be read.
  • The tag's antenna receives electromagnetic energy from an RFID reader's antenna.
  • Using power harvested from the reader's electromagnetic field, the tag sends radio waves back to the reader.
  • The reader picks up the tag's radio waves and interprets the frequencies as meaningful data

In other words, unless it is an active RFID tag, it is only on when near an RFID reader.

Radiation from books

People who have to avoid digital technology because of hypersensitivity to electrosmog have believed that they could at least read books in peace at home. This freedom has been eroded by the introduction of WiFi to libraries, subjecting every visitor to fast-rise digital radiation. Now the assault is to be taken home with the book. This adds insult to injury when the radiation comes from the book on your lap.

Can anyone tell me the signal frequency, strength and range?  

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