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Information Processing technique for tracking personnel moving between zones using tracking devices/tags which are only occasionally visible to tracking sensors

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000198966D
Publication Date: 2010-Aug-19
Document File: 4 page(s) / 69K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is an information processing and reporting technique that will allow Point of Contact Sensing to be used to track staff movements, and allows the raw data collected by the Point of Contact Sensors to be processed and displayed in a manner which is useful to management for tracking staff movements. The solution is to use a double-entry book-keeping technique with (1) sensor triggered reconciliation, and (2) timer and timing thresholds, to resolve inaccuracies in data which have been caused by a failure of staff to tap their tags on sensors at doorways.

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Information Processing technique for tracking personnel moving between zones using tracking devices/tags which are only occasionally visible to tracking sensors

1. Background: Sensors are being used in many environments today. For example, sensors are used to track the movement of staff in an office or a warehouse. There are generally two types of sensor technologies available:

     (1) Real time location sensing (RTLS) - this usually comprises a set of towers / base stations which broadcast an RF signal, which is then received by sensor tags. These tags will then use the RF signals to triangulate their location and broadcast their location to a base station. This way, the base station is able to know where the tags are at all times. The system has continuous visibility and knowledge of where all the tags are. Examples of this technology are the UWB sensing technology from Ubisense, and the Wifi based technology from Aeroscout. This technology can be used in outdoor yards or in warehouses, to track where staff and equipment movements.
(2) Point of contact sensing - This technology comprises a set of short-range sensors that are placed at doorways or at other "control points". Staff are then provided with a set of tags (which can look like employee badges). When staff walk through a doorway into a room, they are supposed to bring their tag near to the sensor, so that the sensor can record their presence. In some cases, this is used to allow the staff to open a door. In other cases, this data is just recorded for tracking purposes, so that management can know how many staff are in each room. With this technology, the sensing system only knows where a tag is at a certain point in time, when it is being scanned. It does not have "continuous knowledge" of where the tag is at all times.

    The challenge with Point of Contact Sensing is that the detection is not foolproof. There may be cases where staff forget to tap their badges on the sensor at the door, or there may be cases where the staff moves the badge too quickly for the sensor to detect. This creates a problem for tracking, because it is difficult to report staff movement information to management in a way that is useful. In many cases, management is willing to accept some degree of "inaccuracy of data" in exchange for the lower cost Point of Contact sensing technology (or because RTLS cannot be deployed in some environments), yet they are unable to use it because they cannot interpret the data in a useful manner.

    Current Solutions and their Disadvantages : Because of this tracking and reporting problem, Point of Contact Sensing is not used to track staff movements today. Instead Real Time Location Sensing is used to track staff movements. The disadvantage is that RTLS is more expensive, and RTLS is not suitable for some environments where the wireless signal cannot be properly setup. RTLS may also not suitable for certain hazardous areas such as oil refineries or flour mills, where the...