Census bureau to track assets with RFID in pilot program

The Census Bureau is considering trying out Radio Frequency Identification technology to keep track of hundreds of thousands of computers and other items in a pilot project, the bureau announced.

The bureau issued a Request for Information on March 1 looking for input from vendors on what types of RFID systems might be suitable to track 80,000 assets at headquarters in Suitland, Md. and at the Bowie, Md. computer center.

“We are engaging industry to more fully understand the scope of current and practical technologies, processes, and approaches for RFID implementation,” the bureau said in its announcement.

RFID is a tagging and tracking  technology that has been used for U.S. passports and identification cards. It also is in use in the private sector for warehouse and fleet tracking.

The RFID systems consists of tiny tags that emit radio frequencies with identifying information. The tags can be read by scanners, either close up or at a short distance.

The Census Bureau said in the announcement that it requires RFID for tracking approximately 80,000 assets, which must be scalable to over 150, 000 assets during the next U.S. census in 2020.

During the most recent census the bureau deployed about 500,000 handheld computers to assist workers in collecting and reporting data from the field.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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