by Jason Grosse, Communications Manager, ITAC
ITAC hosted its first RFID Seminar on March 4th. Sponsored by Deloitte and Dapasoft, the event brought together representatives from established as well as up-and-coming RFID solution providers, companies interested in adopting an RFID strategy and government.
It is undeniable that radio frequency identification (RFID) is going to have a profound impact on how people interact with technology. It is the next step in the evolution of information processing. RFID is not just a microchip attached to an antenna enabling widgets to be tracked in a warehouse — it’s about how those widgets communicate with the warehouse, the employees of the warehouse, and widget control back at head office. The “Internet of Things,” first proposed in 1999 by the Auto-ID centre, a global network of retailers and academics based at MIT, refers to the potential for a network of RFID-enabled devices to change our lives.
In the public sphere in Canada, RFID is poised to fundamentally change the way we interact with government services. Some of the major RFID-related projects that the federal and provincial governments are working on are Electronic Driver’s Licenses (EDL), ePassports, Electronic Health Records, and public transportation. Advancements in these areas hold promise for Canadians in terms of efficiency and ease of use in interacting with government. As an example, Passport Canada is currently piloting the ePassport for diplomats and special passports, with national implementation set for 2011. The ePassport is a response to the global demand for increased security measures and stricter controls. It contains enhanced security features that will minimize the opportunity for fraud. Electronic driver’s licenses also hold this same promise, while the Presto card will change the way we use public transport in the GTA as well as in Ottawa — its technology has already been employed in major international cities such as London with the Oyster card.
Industry also has its share of RFID successes. Glaxo Smith Kline’s Mississauga plant implemented an RFID system in 2006. It is important to also acknowledge the concerns with RFID. These concerns mirror many of the concerns we have with the internet — security protocols, hacking, identity theft. With sensitive documents like the ePassport, the Electronic Health Record or the Electronic Driver’s License, these concerns are heightened. The key to navigating RFID is through a combination of good technology and good regulation.
To find out more about ITAC’s RFID Forum, contact Bill Munson, Vice-President Policy at email@example.com
by Bob Moroz, Chair ITAC RFID Forum and President RFID Canada
RFID is one of the fastest growing technologies today and like all emerging technologies, it has had its struggles. In the next few years, everyone will be touching RFID and all consumer and business based software will have an RFID component.
In Canada, we need to do some soul searching, and ask ourselves tough questions. How is Canada positioned in comparison to the rest of the world? What are we currently doing? And how can Canada be a leader in the design, development of RFID products and solutions?
This is why the ITAC RFID forum is so important. It allows us to better understand where the technology is going and how to be better prepared to compete globally. One problematic issue with the RFID industry is overall, it lacks knowledgeable, trained and qualified people. Most integrators and solution providers do not know the difference between the different products. They have little knowledge of radio frequency, specifically, the physics of RFID and they do not understand the environmental and social effects of RFID. For the most part, the goals of the RFID Forum are to promote the deployment of the technology and to ensure it is done right.
The RFID Forum was established to provide ITAC members with a better understanding of RFID technology - where it is today and where it is going, a venue to address issues such as privacy, security and safety that will help the development of new products and solutions that in turn will generate new business.
To be successful, the RFID Forum needs the support and involvement of technology and solution providers, end-users, the government, the academic sector. To better understand RFID, we need to look at where and how RFID is being used. The following are some of the less known but creative and unique RFID applications being deployed:
by Niall Wallace, CEO Infonaut Inc.
New strains of MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), of VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci), c.difficile, even TB are becoming drug-resistant. Some are now classified as XDR: extensively drug-resistant. Many of these “superbugs” spread fastest in what should be the most hygienic and safe environments -- hospitals.
Yet one of the most effective strategies in combating hospital-acquired infections (HAI) is simple contact management, tracing and understanding interactions: between patients and staff, patients and equipment, staff and equipment.
RFID technology lets us get back to these basics, only better.
Keeping track of who touched what and what went where, done manually, quickly compounds rather than alleviates the burden on overworked professionals. But data gathered through RFID happens automatically is accurate; and is available in real-time.
One of the most promising applications of RFID tag technology, the one used by Infonaut’s Hospital Watch Live (HWL) system, is its integration with the next layer up in spatial understanding -- geographic information systems (GIS).
On its own, RFID identifies a specific location. Adding GIS interpretation to the granular data allows you to add the spatial dimensions which leads from data to knowledge: relative locations, correlation with other data sets, and interaction management.
When a “Patient Zero” is identified, GIS mapping technology combined with RFID locators supports immediate risk assessment, containment and outbreak mitigation. This gives hospitals actionable information. Real-time and historical data gives them the ability to create, measure and refine their strategies against disease spread.
Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAI) are the next big challenge facing hospital and healthcare institutions -- in Canada, and internationally. HAI are responsible for at least $1 billion in direct hospital expenses in Canada alone, and have been flagged as an area of importance by the CDC in their plan “Preventing Emerging Infectious Diseases for the 21st Century”. While the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries work on ways to cure infections once they’ve happened, we can use RFID technology to stop them before they start.
At Last … Ontario Will Harmonize Sales Tax
The RST is particularly problematic for ICT companies. The complexities of its rules, particularly as applied to custom software, have posed significant burdens on our industry. So the move to harmonization is great news for us. Audrey Diamant (PWC) has worked with ITAC’s Tax and Finance Committee to advocate for reform. Here is her analysis of the impact of harmonization:
“On the sales side, the complexity of the RST rules as they currently apply to the industry has been the subject of much debate and concern. Since the RST rules on software were revamped in 1997, the industry has struggled to understand and apply the rules on a consistent and coherent basis. In particular, properly defining exempt custom software; determining the non-taxable service elements of a software implementation project; applying RST to access charges where software was loaded on a server in Ontario; and trying to support exemption for service charges under certain SaaS models, all represent RST issues that have plagued local industry. Consequently, implementation of the HST will effectively remove these issues and simplify the application of tax. It will also remove the RST-driven incentive for certain suppliers to move their servers outside of Ontario, an unfortunate result of Ontario’s taxing software access charges based on the location of the software, as opposed to that of the user. Importantly, business consumers may see the effective cost of IT services decrease with the advent of a harmonized tax.”
Corporate taxes are also scheduled to fall from 14% to 10% by 2013 and for small business from 5.5% to 4.5% as of 2010, and the small business earnings threshold is going to $500k from $400k. With harmonization and corporate tax reductions, Ontario is cutting its marginal effective tax rate on investment in half. This will be a tremendous boost for investment and growth.
The Budget also contains many useful measures to bolster Ontario’s innovative capacity including research infrastructure and digital media. The Budget also contains a temporary 100% accelerated capital cost allowance rate on computers and software that matches the CCA measure in the January Federal Budget and it reaffirms the $250 million Emerging Technologies Fund announced the previous week.
Ontario’s Budget caps a month of provincial government announcements that contain a number of improvements to R&D credits and methods to incent investment. The most significant move to address the financing crisis facing growth tech ventures is in Québec which established the $500 million EFRB (Emergency Fund for Small Business), the $825 million FFSUC (Fund to Finance Sectoral Venture Capital Funds) and three funds for start-ups totaling $125 million. It establishes Stock Savings Plan II, a retail investment tax credit for SMEs with assets up to $200 million. The Québec Budget also contains a provision for a 10-year tax holiday for new corporations dedicated to the commercialization of intellectual property from Québec universities and public labs.
ITAC is requesting its members comments on the Ontario budget. Please send commentary to ITAC CEO and President, Bernard Courtois.
Please click the following links to view our correspondence to government
Advanced Packaging Forum Gets Raves
Innovation in Ontario: Government
Announces Spending and Program Changes
Call For Nominations - ITAC IT Hero Awards
An independent judging panel is assembled comprised of distinguished individuals with intimate knowledge of Canada’s IT sector. The awards will be presented at the Chair’s Dinner taking place June 23, 2009 in Toronto. We still have opportunities available for sponsorship. Please contact Cindy Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and a copy of the sponsorship package. For more information or to nominate visit http://www.itheroawards.ca.
The Audacity of
Imagination: Microelectronics’ New Millennium
Venture Forum 2009- Venture Capital Financing Solutions in Challenging Times
For a complete listing of all ITAC events go to: http://www.itac.ca/index.php/site/events/
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
(WEEE) Program Starting April 1, 2009
The 21st Annual Profit 100
Intel Premier IT Knowledge Awards – Call For
Kinsa 3rd Annual Heroes of the Fight
Ontario Showcase at CommunicAsia2009 & ICT
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