Open Framework, Information Management Strategy & Collaborative Governance | Data & Social Methodology - MIKE2.0 Methodology
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Big sensor data

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The weblog data that is filling up “big data” environments out there will be a miniscule part of information systems in 10 years. Don’t get me wrong – weblog data will be huge by today’s standards with each Global 3000 organization easily storing a petabyte or more of this unstructured data. I’m going to say it will be stored in a form of Hadoop, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, it is sensor information that is going to be the “big data” challenge, as it has already become in many environments embracing RFID and other means to track small physical movements.

RFID, as an example technology for sensor tracking, stands for radio frequency identification. It requires a tag and a reader. When the tag passes the reader, a transaction is created. The RFID device is a transmitter imbedded in a printed label. Generation 2 RFID tags, another standard, are far smaller than the first generation RFID tags.

RFID tags, a technology once limited to tracking cattle, will soon be tracking trillions of consumer products worldwide. Manufacturers will know the location of each product they make from the time it's made until it's used and tossed in the recycle bin or trash can. These smart labels will be tracked through the entire supply chain.

It is generally a transmitter on the back of a 4 x 6 label that sends a consistent signal at a specified frequency. Receiver devices receive the signal containing between 96 and 4096 bytes of information. RFID Generation 2 increases the storage.

There are several standards which define: the frequency, the size of the labels, the method of applying the labels, and the amount of information available

Many will see similarities here to bar code technology. There are some similarities. However, RFID provides these features that bar codes lack: - An emerging standard for the code - The ability to uniquely identify each item - Much improved reader capabilities (such as line-of-sight not necessary)

There are two categories of tags:

Passive • incredibly small (the size of a grain of rice) • do not have their own power. • each tag has an antenna that transmits based on power projected by the reader. Range is usually limited to a few feet.

Active • Larger • Have their own batteries • Data can actually be stored from a reader to the active tag. • Ranges are excellent - up to an unbelievable several hundred feet

There is also Semi-passive (sometimes semi-active), which is similar to active but with less range and storage capability.

RFID tags will continually send out their signature and data they have available for ingestion. The reader in the closest proximity will receive the data and process it for use in an application that will do something with the RFID signal. However, without pristine reference data, the RFID signal is just that, an unrecognizable signature for something that is meaningful to the organization. The difference between RFID and other similar technologies is that, just like the web brought an order of magnitude more information to be digested for meaningful results, RFID will result in at least another order of magnitude of information available for potential revenue opportunities.

Initial RFID implementations were a technology looking for a home, and initial implementations were as direct replacements for bar coding. Business innovation and ingenuity is required to introduce new revenue opportunities from RFID, such as in security, identity validation, elimination of out-of-stock conditions, supply chain management.

The controversial security monitoring device implemented in WalMart stores late in 2005 monitor packages (TVs and other large ticket items) equipped with RFIDs matched to photographic records. The combination of camera records with RFID tag movement provide one solid security monitoring device.

Precision Dynamics Corporation (PDCCORP) sells the AgeBand, a product used to avoid the sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors. The operating technology to the AgeBand is the RFID chip in the band that contains identity information of the wearer.


The Business Value of reducing the supply chain is directly related to the amount of stock that must be stored. For many companies, this is the first justification of RFID.

Personally, we leave trails everywhere we go. Think of RFID devices as cookies for the physical world where just about everything will have an IP address. Sometime within the next ten years, the Electronic Product Code (EPC) network will become the preferred global product identification capability for the management of:

- Assets - Production and assembly - Supply chain track and trace - Inventories - Consumer product services and content - Retail theft and product counterfeiting - Customs clearance The EPC code, maintained as an industry standard by a third-party consortium, has 96 bits, which allow it to uniquely identify every physical asset on the planet – for years to come! Currently, the focus is on consumer products that are individually tagged. For now, there are several opportunities to extend RFID capabilities within organizations. These consist of building an organization’s operational reactivity and analytic capabilities with an information management architecture supporting RFID data integrated with the rest of the organization’s data.

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