RFID Used Very Effectively to Track Weapons During Annual Show

rfid-rifle-tagRFID played an important role at an annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (or IACP) Conference held in Philadelphia, PA.   The Conference took place over three days during October of 2013. With a reputation of providing an impressive display of the newest and coolest products and services, The IACP Conference is always eagerly anticipated by the law enforcement community.    

The gun displays often generate a good portion of the excitement.  Some of the most impressive booths were from the leaders in the industry such as Sig Sauer, Glock, and Colt Defense among many others. Many of these vendors had 60+ guns on display. Their booths were often crowded with excited conference attendees looking to check out the hottest new guns on the market.

For the security of the attendees, exhibitors, and staff the IACP required that all vendor weapons be registered and stored in the conference armory during all non-show hours.  Each year the host city’s Police Department was responsible for regulating this process and protecting the armory. This meant that every morning all of the gun vendors would have to go to the armory to check-out their weapons. Then, every evening they would have to go through a similar process to check all of their items back into the armory. In previous years, the armory officers would print out a list of each vendor’s weapons and then manually verify each gun by serial number. The process often took hours. Vendors would be standing in a long line waiting for their turn. It seemed like an inevitable process that was frustrating for all parties involved.rfid-gun-tagging

During the 2012 Conference in San Diego, SimplyRFiD’s President, Carl Brown was introduced to Captain Mark Fisher of the Philadelphia Police Department. Philadelphia was set to host next year’s show and Captain Fisher was in search of something to improve the entire armory check-in/check-out process. He needed it to be easier for his team and most importantly he wanted to make sure everyone enjoyed the conference next year, especially those frustrated vendors. Luckily, Carl was just the man Captain Fisher needed to speak to.

Fast forward a year. SimplyRFiD is at the IACP armory in Philadelphia prepared with the solution. All they brought were 1000 RFID hang tags, 2 RFID Handheld Readers, 1 barcode scanner, and a laptop and printer.

The day before the show all vendors were required to come to the armory to register their weapons.  Each weapon was evaluated by a Philadelphia Police officer to ensure all firing pins were removed and that it was safe for display. SimplyRFiD then tagged each gun with a small but visible RFID hang tag called the TH-3. The tag was then scanned with a barcode scanner and inputted into the software on the laptop. Once all weapons were scanned a report was generated, printed out, and then signed by the vendor.

Once everything was tagged, the rest was easy. At the end of the day each vendor came back to the armory to check their weapons in for the night. Using RFID technology, all the tagged weapons could now be read in seconds without the vendor even needing to open their cases.

SimplyRFiD’s NOXVault handheld RFID reader was able to read all the tags in just a couple pulls of the trigger. All SimplyRFiD had to do was load a simple spreadsheet all of the tagged weapon information into the NOXVault and they were good to go for the entire show. As each vendor approached, their name was selected on the Vault which prompted it to search only for that particular vendor’s weapons.  Because RFID doesn’t require a direct line of sight, the weapons could be read from several feet away right through the casing. To the vendor’s amazement, hundreds of tags could be read in just a couple of seconds.

If a particular item could not be found while scanning, the handheld would specify exactly what item was missing. On occasion vendors would choose not to check in one or more of their guns overnight. In this case that particular weapon would be immediately identified and labeled as “Missing” by the handheld. This allowed the armory staff to cross verify with the vendor as to which items would be checked-in and what items would be omitted for the night. An adjustment would be made in the system and the vendor would sign for that weapon’s release.

Click on the above image to watch the video  

What once took up to two hours (and was required to be done twice a day during a 3-day show) could now be completed in less than 20 minutes. An average vendor was checked in or out in less than 2 minutes.  The process was simply reduced to scan-find-sign. No more verifying hard-to-read serial numbers over and over for the police officers and no more waiting in line for the busy vendors.

SimplyRFiD received rave reviews from Captain Fisher and his team as well as from many of the gun vendors. The IACP was also impressed by the system and is looking to use SimplyRFiD’s system again for the 2014 show in Orlando. In addition, SimplyRFiD is currently working on a project with the Philadelphia Police Department to implement a permanent system in their Armory.

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