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The setting up of each stage of implementation may involve a significant amount of
work, but several factors may ease this burden, including:
- There are people in a number of libraries who have the practical experience how to
organise it;
- The tasks which have to be performed are routine, and easily described in formal
- Quality control and performance criteria can be formulated relatively easily.
For all these reasons, the library management considers that the benefits more than
compensate the required effort.
B e n e f i t s a n d R i s k s
RFID technology holds the great promise for new ways for data circulation within
organisations, in which one of the basic problems is the huge amount of data processing
involved.The direct connection of the tags with their respective databases and the min-
imisation of the number of operations in routine processes will be beneficial.
Additionally, as a technology which combines security with identification, it influences
all procedures which previously required queries to a database and the subsequent
extraction of information.
Complementary to these data processing benefits, the use of the technology con-
tributes to the search for innovative services and studies, particularly in museums.The
application of the technology goes beyond the use of smart labels merely for tracking
items.The visitors are also supplied with such labels allowing management to study user
behaviour and to support users in their museum tours. Such projects are still in their
infancy and their benefits will only be realised completely in following years.
As a new technology, RFID brings considerable risks. For organisations with large
numbers of visitors, a certain reported instability, such as erroneously read tags and false
alarms, is not favourable.
There are also a number of problems which could arise from the immature standard-
isation in the field and future incompatibilities both of physical devices and data encod-
ing and content. Since in the cultural heritage sector the data on collections are so huge,
any risks of future incompatibilities are substantial.
Some types of tag have a limited life; the active tags which have built-in antennae are
a good example of a class of short-life tags.Their longevity is completely acceptable for
business applications, but not in the long-term run in cultural heritage organisations.
A specific problem related to RFID technology is the radio spectrum use. Radio fre-
quencies are distributed and controlled by different bodies and sets of regulations in dif-
ferent countries, so agreement must be reached before the technology is fully transfer-
There are two respects in which RFID technology may bring both benefits and risks
at the same time.The first of these relates to staff.The obvious risk is that staff jobs may
Smart Labels
and Smart Tags