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Executive Summary
Many organisations in the cultural heritage sector are currently engaged in improving
their efficiency and offering better services to their visitors, users and patrons. The bal-
ance between aims, efforts and costs is often difficult to find. Issues related to the man-
agement of holdings are among the core concerns for these institutions, a problem
comparable with that of supply chain management in the business sector.Time of deliv-
ery, cost and prevention of losses are key factors in both cases.
Improvements in these areas are restricted by the traditional technologies used for
tracking items. The current most popular technology, barcoding, has very definite limita-
tions. Even in the cases of using barcodes with detailed records, the necessity to process
items through human intervention, leading to space limitation and time constraints,
plays a significant role. In addition to this, barcodes themselves can be easily damaged
An increasingly popular alternative to barcoding is the use of smart tags, advanced labels
based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Radio frequencies are used to
read information on devices known as tags that can be affixed to or embedded into virtu-
ally any object.They either reflect or retransmit the radio-frequency signal. In the cultural
heritage sector, holdings of entire collections may be tagged and, in some cases, visitors
can be supplied with discrete devices incorporating tags for mobile, instant use.
The use of smart tags leads to increased security, the enhancement of work processes,
and improvements in customer service.The introduction of smart labels leads not only
to faster checking of the status of a particular item, but can lead to a rearrangement of
data processing structures within an organisation. Timeframes for traditional services can
change, as can information processes such as the reduction of database queries.
The adoption of smart labels will require investment in:
- specialised devices (readers, printers);
- tags which are currently more expensive than barcodes,
but are likely to get cheaper in the future;
- staff training;
- time to put tags on the collected items.
The standard, fundamental business aims and
benefits of RFID applications are:
- Reduced supply chain costs (through less
human intervention, automatic item tracking);
- Enhanced customer relationships (less time on
checking and higher accuracy);
- Improved efficiency (better organisation of data
management processes).
The current limitations are
- price: the unit price per label can be a significant
factor. It can vary from 50 cents to several
and is
Smart Labels
and Smart Tags
Netherlands Institute for Sound and V