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Tagging the world via RFID

Tom S. Noda | Jan. 11, 2010
With all the fuss that's been going around the Land Transportation Office's (LTO) radio frequency identification (RFID) project, only one thing is certain -- RFID, per se, will affect many people's lives.

"It's absolutely a myth to believe that you can be tracked and monitored by government with the RFID sticker. It has no GPS (global positioning system); besides no GPS tracking device can fit into a sticker," Dizon clarifies.

Although LTO's RFID tag can be read at high speeds of 140 kph, it only has a short consistent range of 10 meters. "If you're not within the 10-meter radius, you can't be tracked."

Dizon claims a cellphone is potentially a more intrusive device than RFID. Stradcom says that another reason why RFID can't be used for harassment or "spying" of individuals is that the system can't access other detailed information such as: RFID unique code, MV (motor vehicle) file number, engine number, chassis number, plate number, MV type, color, make, series, year model, body type, MV classification, franchise, route, owner/org name, and the last registration date.

Dizon says tag stickers on vehicles will be placed in the middle inner portion of the windshield. Meanwhile, for motorcycles, all-weather RFID tags will be placed in the space between the side mirrors.

According to Dizon, the LTO tags can withstand harsh environments like ultra violet (UV) radiation, humidity, heat, among others for a long period of time.


Dizon, likewise, addressed the legal issues being hurled at the LTO RFID system, such as questions on public bidding, lack of identification of RFID devices, alleged money-making schemes, and public consultation issues, among others.

"The LTO RFID project does not require any bidding since it is part of the existing LTO IT Project under the Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) law and its implementing rules and regulation," he says.

Dizon recalls Stradcom bidded and won the LTO computerization project way back in 1997 when the government decided to computerize the whole LTO so that the public can transact in any of the LTO offices in the Philippines.

"Taking advantage of the BOT law (Republic Act 7118), the LTO opened the possibility of creating a computerized system that would significantly increase service efficiency and lessen human intervention in order to avoid opportunities for fraud and corruption," he says. "Out of the five participating companies, Stradcom stood out with the most technically and financially viable plan for system development. It was also the one which offered the lowest cost for the transacting public."

Dizon explains BOT law's objective is to encourage the private sector to invest in government projects that lack funding. Some of the government's recent BOT projects include the Metro Manila Skyway; the upgraded North Luzon Expressway; and the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway or SCTEX.

"The government tried to apply BOT law in IT sometime in 1993, when LTO was investing around US $80 million for its computerization project. LTO decided it should be a BOO (Build-Operate-Own) contract," narrates Dizon, adding the BOO is the proponent who seeks for investment funds of a project. This explains why there is a "computer fee" indicated on receipts given to motorists. What the public pays go to the LTO's IT project.


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