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RFID-Driven e-Business with On-Demand Privacy & Security

Introduction

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology insists the benefits of collaboration are more than the sums of benefits of each partner.   An acceptable information infrastructure for such captured data remains to be seemed, and how data can be shared, information can be leveraged, and knowledge could be generated and disseminated required research of considerable magnitude.   This RFID-space needs characterization to allow other principles to be challenged or enhanced.

The RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) technologies have created a buzz in the business world in late 2003. It was known that the RF technology is not new and has been used in different applications. What is interesting to us is the possibility that it can eventually realize the "single unique identity" (SUI) for products in global trade alone. This implication has far-reaching effects to every aspects of business processes. Supply chains seem to be one of the key foucses - for intra supply chain management, and cross (inter) supply chains - as a network of supply chains similar in nature and chains of different natures - soon.

We believe the adoption of RFID technology will be extensive, both in scope globally and in participation among industries. RFID-based information flow will cut across partners in business chains (e.g., supply chains and logistics service chains) extended beyond borders and across regions. The impact of the RFID technology on e-business can be viewed broadly from three aspects:

  1. Effective Information Sharing. The data offered by a RFID tag with a single unique identity (SUI) enable effective information sharing with consistency and accuracy among collaborative partners, used individually to improve efficiency, and at the same time used collectively in business chains to achieve greater visibility.
  2. Global Information Infrastructure. Some form of global information infrastructure must be reached, e.g., the EPCglobal Network, to serve as a neutral information platform – to ensure uniformity and interoperability in RFID-based information exchange.
  3. Effective Managed Information Flow. The new security and privacy concerns stemmed from the SUI-guided information flow among partners must be managed and protected without compromising trade secrets, and managed and accessible without exposing sensitive corporate data and information.

RFID-induced information flow is unavoidable and tighter coordination and control among parties are necessary. Privacy and security issues and concerns have been raised and addressed at the Center of Cyber Logistics.

We believe the on-demand capability of trading partners to share RFID-based data and information without compromising individual privacy and security is crucial to the success of RFID adoption in business chains, achieving real-time visibility for partners as such information and physical flows are timely synchronized, even to the unique item level. Three research issues must be addressed:

  1. How information sharing differs in a RFID-enabled business chain environment as compares to current practices in supply chains and in the logistics industry?
  2. How can sharing preferences be articulated for trading partners in a RFID-aware business chain? Preferences are indicators by a trading partner of positive and negative views of sharing information.
  3. How can privacy and security schemes be enabled as on-demand e-services? On-demand must be supported by an online capability that brokers entitlement services to provide an instant policy to facilitate the information sharing securely.
RFID Technology  

RFID technology enables pervasive integration of supply chains, and across chains of other natures such as logistics. RFID-tagged items can be tracked and traced, giving the notion of products-in-motion. One view is that a RFID tags is a 'nomadic RFID tags' (nRTs)- taking up residences at where RFID-aware e-services are at work. Based on such view, the information infrastructure, be it EPCglobal Network or the likes, and other information agents can be designed to take advantage of the nRTs in facilitating business chain supremacy.


Global Standards  

Guiding standards originated from the Auto-ID Center at MIT then. EPCglobal, Inc. takes over the continuing development of the technology and is currently leading RFID and RFID-related standards developments, especially the EPC and the EPCglobal Network. There are others. We are following these developments including the ezTrack, the GTS and GTC of GS1 in the recent years.


Privacy & Security  

The idea of skimming and eavesdropping without detection on RFID-tagged products does not sit well with the majority of consumers. Yet, before the RFID-tagged products get to the market, the privacy and security issues are more immediate to deal with in supply chains and logistics. We should also highlight the benefits of RFID-tagged products to the consumers. We will discuss our view on these new issues and concerns. Eventually, a supply chain visibility entitlement model will be proposed.


Resources

IoT (Internet of Things) & Cloud - How do they compute?!

BrochureAn Open Forum: "RFID-based Enabling Technology for On-Target Visibility Garment Supply Chains [27.April.2011]

My notes on SCOR

View of HK LSCM CentreHong Kong R&D Centre for Logistics and Supply chain management Enabling Technologies - Consulation Workshop [15.December.2005]
Open Forum 2005, CCLAn Open Forum: "RFID-Enabled Supply Chains & Logistics in Asia - The Center of Cyber Logistics [30.June.2005]

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