ASPIRE for SME
The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) of products and goods will play an outstanding role in the future. It contributes to more efficiency in the fields of trade, logistics and industry. In addition, it enhances the quality of life, e.g. with regard to consumer goods, in the health sector and in the environmental field.
There is a strong industry with many SMEs all over Europe covering the full value chain with high potential for efficiency gains in major sectors (e.g., consumer goods, trade, automotive, health care) that RFIDs are able to give a larger potential for improved consumer service and the development of new markets. Unfortunately many SMEs do not have sufficient equity capital to invest in RFID which is where ASPIRE is aiming to change.
The ASPIRE project is a European project, funded by the European Commission (FP7) with the aim of researching and providing a radical change in the current RFID deployment paradigm. This new project will be particular beneficial to European SME, which are nowadays experiencing significant cost-barriers to RFID deployment.
ASPIRE will significantly lower SME entry costs for RFID technology, through developing and providing a lightweight, royalty-free, innovative, programmable, privacy friendly, middleware platform that will facilitate low-cost development and deployment of innovative RFID solutions. The ASPIRE middleware platform will also be combined with innovative European developments in the area of ubiquitous RFID-based sensing towards enabling novel business cases that ensure improved business results.
Traceability Issues and Solutions
Traceability is a general concept, which may mean, to a consumer, improved food safety, understanding and awareness of product sources, etc. It is also new field of research, experimentation and business, currently undergoing rapid development and providing many other trades and industries with vital support - addressing the problems of competitiveness, efficiency, risk reduction, added value through innovation, etc. It is now also starting to be integrated into Enterprise Management Systems. Traceability can apply to goods, services & associated documentation, personnel, etc.
For traceability, the stakes, beyond simple regulatory aspects, are economic, strategic and, under certain circumstances, related to rights. A certain number of company-related facts must be taken into account in order to be able to understand and evaluate these stakes:
The need to clearly define responsibilities arising from legal proceedings used to arbitrate in cases of disputes concerning day-to-day life.
The globalization of communications and trade, leading to a search for improved logistics and transportation efficiency.
Counterfeit goods - representing between 7 and 10% of international trade, presenting a menace to businesses far exceeding simple losses.
The importance of information, which may eventually produce new services and create value.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), is an automatic identification technology that could be seen on a long term period as a complete substitute of the 30 years old barcode technology. RFID can be used to solve a lot of traceability issues. This technology provides a radio frequency mean to track and trace products, to improve efficiency and security in critical processes, to facilitate exchanges between organizations, to better achieve stock management tasks, etc.
Security Issues and Private Data
Likewise, surveillance technologies such as RFID pose tremendous social challenges. The intrusiveness of this technology means that more information about industry and consumers can be collected and analysed. Whilst this is source of business advantage, it conditions its acceptability and adoption strategies. Particularly, the ubiquity of RFID devices poses tremendous privacy and security implications for consumers. Tag data or identity may reveal sensitive object characteristics and allow the identification or tracking of carriers. Whilst most RFID end-users recognise tremendous benefits from this technology, many are deterred from adopting RFID because of corporate responsibility or fear of liability. To solve these issues, the ASPIRE design incorporates special measures to ensure and enforce the protection of personal and object data as required by the ePrivacy Directive.
As to privacy-friendliness, the ASPIRE middleware will cater for minimalist data generation, which incorporates the principles of data quality, limitation and conservation into the logic itself. The ASPIRE tag data will not be created in the first place if possible, kept for longer than required, or distributed to non-incumbents. The middleware platform will be privacy-friendly because it will incorporate logic and mechanisms to break and/or blur the relationship between personal and object data. This will prevent organisations using RFID from abusing the RFID data (privacy by design). The transparency provided by Open Source Software will also allow creating certification programmes by independent organisations, and privacy seals. The consortium will define a certification programme and suite for auditing the privacy friendly nature of ASPIRE.
The patenting and licensing of innovative technologies is an everyday process, and it is one of the prerequisites for technological progress. Companies certainly want to get a return on investments made in their R&D efforts. However, patents should not lead to long-standing trade disputes that create insurmountable cost barriers for technology adopters, especially SMEs. This is why ASPIRE is designed to be an open licence project without the interested part having to pay for the proper licensing to use it.
Embodying RFIDs to SMEs
It is particularly challenging for small and medium-sized companies to acquire the information necessary for the assessment of RFID’s potential in their own processes and the realisation of successful RFID implementation. Identifying profitable good practice cases requires both a solid understanding of the technology as well as comprehensive knowledge about the application domain and related business processes. ASPIRE will help SMEs to adopt RFID technology to their business process easier for a successful RFID implementation without the help of a RFID specialist and without the need to radical change their current infrastructure with a specialized and expensive RFID system.