Singapore Civil Defense Force Logo
Singapore Civil Defense Force Logo

( Hitachi recently announced the order of a Passive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Equipment Tracking Solution from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). This is the first RFID technology order made by the SCDF to use to support its current defence technologies. The RFID solution will be used to track equipment such as fire extinguishers and portable pumps. SCDF has three main operational appliances that will be using the RFID tags. The appliances are its Pump Ladder (PL), Light Fire Attack Vehicle (LFAV) and the Ambulance. The solution will be enacted for all 16 fire stations across the island.

Hitachi Asia Ltd. has been in close discussion with the Singapore government but this is the first contract that it has signed with a government agency of Singapore. It is considered a big leap towards success for Hitachi. This contract was signed after Hitachi established a partnership with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) through a Memorandum of Intent signed in January of 2010. It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Economic Development Board (EDB) in May 2010 to work together for any urban related projects in Singapore.

RFID is an emerging technology, which uses radio waves to transfer data from an RFID tag embedded onto an object to track and monitor the object using an RFID reader. The purpose of the reader is to identify and track the object, which has the RFID tag attached to it. There are many methods by which data is stored but the most common is to store a serial number on a microchip that is attached to an antenna. RFID tags can be read while they are within a certain range of the RFID reader depending on the settings.

Hitachi’s RFID solution will replace the SCDF’s current practice, which consists of manual checks, and data collection via human counts. This method is prone to human errors and the consumption and waste of time, which can be avoided using an automated RFID system that will eliminate such procedures. The RFID reader has a reading range of 1 meter away from the object being monitored and the object with the tag on it can be read simply through the swiping of the RFID reader near the object even if the tag is not visible. In this way, the objects will not have to be placed a certain way to allow for reading and less time will be wasted to place objects facing in certain directions to be read by a reader or the human eye. With the existing system, counting and checking the objects on board of an appliance took 30 minutes or more by 3-4 crew members while the current RFID solutions allows for the same task to be completed in 10 minutes by 1 crew member.

Mr. Lee Kian Seng, Vice President and General Manager of Information and Communication Technology Solutions Business Group, Hitachi Asia Ltd., is excited about the new partnership with the Singapore government and stated that Hitachi values the RFID project with the SCDF especially because of its increasing focus on Social Innovation Business in the IT sector. He is confident that this partnership has only brought Hitachi in a better position for future collaborations with the Singapore government.

The order made by the SCDF requires that Hitachi provide 13,000 Passive RFID tags and 55 RFID handheld readers. The RFID equipment will come with a customized client-server application for managing tagged equipment records and for synchronizing data between the handheld reader and server. The RFID solution is expected to be completely in operation at all 16 fire stations by April 2012.

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