Tag Archives: 433MHz

Texas Bill to ban active RFID in schools

Texas
Good news indeed.  A bill banning the use of active radio frequency identification (RFID) that identifies and locates children in schools has been presented to the Texas LegislatureSenator Kolkhorst introduced SB486 on the 10th of February 2015 that reads:

“A school district may not require a student to use an identification device that uses active radio frequency identification technology or similar technology to identify the student, transmit information regarding the student, or track the location of the student”

Similar bills introduced in 2012 by the then Representative Lois Kolkhorst, HB101 and HB102, were unsuccessful.   More here on HB101 and HB102. Hopefully SB486 will be passed and Texas will be the second State in the USA that bans radio frequency identification used by children in schools to locate and transmit information.

Missouri was the first US State to ban RFID in schools in 2014.   SB523 came into effect October 2014 which “Prohibits school districts from requiring a student to use an identification device that uses radio frequency identification technology to transmit certain information”.

RFID transmitting the location of students is used in Texas.  However in Northside Independent School District (NISD) the RFID introduced in 2012 was a disastrous public relations exercise for the technology.

USA protest against tacking RFID

San Antonio – students protest against tracking RFID

One student in 2012 who attended John Jay High School in San Antonio, Andrea Hernandez , refused to carry the active 433MHz tag, that was going to transmit her whereabouts 24/7.  The school unbudging in its commitment to have the kids wear the active RFID expelled Andrea.

The Hernandez family took NISD to court, with the Judge’s decision unfortunately going against them.  Andrea had to move schools.  In July 2013 the RFID was scrapped.  NISD had introduced the RFID to improve school attendance which it failed miserably in (obviously!).  Quite how NSID expected students wearing a RFID tag around their necks would improve attendance is clearly a testament to the sales pitch of the company supplying the RFID, WADEgarcia.

There were many claims made about the RFID one of which was that only the school could track the RFID tag.  Not entirely correct.  The RFID tags the kids were, and are, wearing in Texas utilise the 433MHz radio frequency.  The same frequency used by RFID tags the US Military use to track their assets around the globe, in fact it is the very same standard ISO18000-7.  So let’s be very careful when making claims about RFID technology.  See paper ‘Military Systems compatible with Student Locator RFID‘.

Hopefully SB486’s progress will highlight what exactly RFID is capable of.  Not that I am suggesting the US Military is tracking children in America but only that the technology does have capabilities and is open to be fallible.

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RFID Journal – People should remain at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a RFID reader/antenna

RFID reader definitionThe RFID Journal is one of the world’s foremost sources of RFID news globally and has reported positively on the benfits of RFID tagging children and teachers in schools with active RFID.   On the 4th November 2013 this question was asked on their ‘Ask the Experts Forum’ – Are there any health risks with prolonged exposure to ultra high frequency (UHF) radio frequency (RF) fields?  

Interesting then when Mark Roberti, the Founder and Editor of the RFID Journal, then advises in his response that:

people should remain at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a reader.


Really.  How is it okay for the RFID Journal to report 
positively about schools tagging children and teachers wearing ultra high frequency (UHF) active RFID tags, effectively endorsing the wearing of active RFID chips, when they also comment on the very potential health hazards of radio frequencies?

RFID Active definitionIn the USA Northside Independant School District RFID tagged their student population with active 433MHz RFID tags from 2012 until 2013.  In Germany students and teachers wear active RFID tags compatible with wifi 2.45GHz, in the US the same tag is being worn by teachers.  West Cheshire College students in the UK wore ultra wideband (UWB) active RFID tags around their neck in a lanyard, emitting a 6.35-6.75GHz radio frequency every second, from 2010 until 2013.  West Cheshire College admitted to viewing students in “peer groups” with their RFID real time location system  – so not just for registration or safety reasons then?

Daniel Engels, “Director of the University of Texas at Arlington‘s Radio Frequency Innovation and Technology Center, and an associate professor in the college’s Department of Electrical Engineering” was quoted in a previous RFID Journal article from June 2009 entitled ‘Can RFID be harmful to the human body‘ stated that:

“The basic result of all of our work is that really close proximity to UHF [ultrahigh-frequency] RFID readers  [antennas] has potential health issues”

Should we be tagging children and teachers with active RFID when the  International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen to humans, causing cancers and tumors?  Erm… I think that would be a no!

Maybe schools be prudent and ready themselves for possible litigation claims in the future…

RFID UHF definition   RFID Interrogater definition

West Cheshire College. Nothing to hide? Then nothing to fear, surely?

Youtube banning video Aug 8th 2013Well, it had to happen at some point.  West Cheshire College have joined the RFID Journal and Zebra Technologies in the need to erase evidence of their part in tracking children, using a real time location system, at West Cheshire College with active RFID for 3 years since 2010.

West Cheshire College contacted Youtube about ‘copyright infringement’ on the video posted on our channel detailing their RFID tagging of students.  Presumably any copyright infringement is on images of the college not the content of RFID tagging the kids, as the college never claims to have ‘accepted‘ the technology stating they were only trialing tracking students (for whom?) with RFID that they used for 3 years.

Does West Cheshire College’s intervention in yet more removal of evidence from the internet of RFID tagging children at the college fan the fire of an attempted cover up?  Along with the of removal of press releases, articles and video by the RFID Journal and Zebra Technologies on the same topic, I’m not quite sure what else it does suggest really.

Student locators using ex-military 433MHz?

433MHz is the most used frequency on earth and is also the radio frequency used in John Jay High School, Texas, USA to track students on their premises.  The RFID tags worn emit a pulsed constant frequency and cannot be turned off by the students so effectively broadcast the student/tags whereabouts 24-7.  The tag works as an antenna and sensors around the school pick up the RFID (antenna) frequencies – this is an active RFID tag.  In fact sensors anywhere can pick up a tag’s radio frequencies.

433Mhz is ex-military – Savi, a company owned by Lockheed Martin, developed the 433MHz RFID technology (ISO18000-7 ratified in 2006) and have supplied homeland-security and port-related RFID security to the US military during the past decade.  According to the RFID Journal, “Savi RFID tags track assets in shipments throughout the world.  Its customers include the U.S. government, as well as NATO and other civil and defense agencies”.  Savi “has been the primary provider of active RFID solutions for the Department Of Defense, particularly in the agency’s In-Transit Visibility network, which monitors the movements of containers and products through the supply chain by means of 433 MHz active RFID tags, readers and software.”  and according to Mark Lieberman, the Automatic-Identification Technology (AIT) Program Manager at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), “There was a time when Savi was the sole supplier of tags and infrastructure end items to DOD [Department of Defense].”

In January 2009 the US Department of Defense announced a $429 million RFID contract for DASH7 (ISO18000-7) devices, which was awarded to several companies.  From DASH7 Alliance wiki  “It was agreed that current self-certification of interoperability was insufficient [between the companies awarded the contract] and that a more formalized process for determining conformance with the ISO 18000-7 standard and interoperability across vendors was needed” – so Savi initialized the first meeting of DASH7 members in February 2009.  The DASH7 Alliance now has over 50 members including 7 universities and “offers such interoperability to standards bodies, Industry associations and related government entities in order to accelerate adoption and advance integration for the benefit of society.”  Benefiting society, of course… this technology did not benefit Andrea Hernandez when she chose not to use it and be tracked by a 433 RFID tag in school.  433MHz occupies the ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) radio band, reserved internationally generally for unlicensed use, therefore free to use.  With this, 433 frequency now finds itself firmly embedded in public domestic society.

Is it wrong to say 433MHz is ex-military?  ‘Ex’ implying no longer used.  It is probably more accurate to say 433 is from the military.  There are presumably military sensors all around the US for their In-Transit Visibility Network and the same frequency is used increasingly for schools student location, credit cards, agricultural, biomedical, door (garage) openers and wireless alarm systems to name a few.

The features of 433MHz can be up to “range of up to 2 km, indoor location with 1 meter accuracy,”. Whether or not key fobs and student locator RFID have this 2 km range or that student RFID tags are being tracked by government sensors across the country, we need to bear in mind that this technology is invisible and a constant, subconscious interaction with wireless technology is happening when we use it.

The age of ubiquitous technologies is upon us.

When we have an item that ‘magically’ interacts with other pieces of technology maybe we need to start asking what it is we carry – and hopefully trust that we are being given the right answer.