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Debate at the intersection of business, technology and culture in the world of digital identity, both commercial and government, a blog born from the Digital Identity Forum in London and sponsored by Consult Hyperion



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How can I get a green angle into digital identity?

By davebirch posted Jun 1 2007 at 9:15 AM

[Dave Birch] Now that I've discovered that an avatar in Second Life emits more CO2 than a Brazilian, I'm feeling guilty about the antics of Greasy Makarov.  I need to perform some fatuous, irrelevant action to salve my conscience.  No, wait.  I need a way to salve the conscience of the digital identity world. Aha! Got it.  The story that RFID allows Wal-Mart to reduce any unnecessary truck deliveries and even trips of customers to their stores by keeping their stocks up to date.  Excellent.  Apparently twenty four million customers visit Wal-Mart everyday and if RFID tagging can remove only 100,000 unnecessary trips by keeping the stocks up to date, then a lot less carbon would be emitted. It's a win-win-win.

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There's been a number of RFID stories that have caught my eye recently. Take, example, the story that Bermuda is about to launch a massive RFID tag system on its driving population, giving the government the ability to track every vehicle at every location at all times of the day. What government, frankly, wouldn't want to do that same? The Bermuda scheme -- made viable, for one thing, by the fact that there are only 47,000 vehicles there -- means that each vehicle will have to have its own tag with an associated unique number that is stored in a central government database. Then, tag readers will have to be installed at key locations all around the island. That's entirely feasible (given that the island is only 21 square miles) and is going to happen.

But is it good or bad? The government can track vehicles that break driving laws and automatically issue tickets by mail and the government anticipates earning $11 million in the next five years alone in fines that would ordinarily have been missed, thus going some way to fund the system. If your car is stolen, or you've forgotten where you parked it, this system could be very useful. But who will have access to the data and under what circumstances? These are the critical questions, aren't they? I'm not sure I'm particular bothered about my car having a digital identity -- I'm happy to acknowledge that it could be most beneficial -- but what happens to my digital exhaust fumes?

Another story that caught my eye was in this month's Global Identification (I don't get out much these days). It was about tags in clothing in a Norwegian hospital. The hospital (which has 1,000 beds) has attached RFID tags to all 130,000 staff garments. Each tag holds a unique ID linked to the hospital database. The tags survive the high temperature laundry, drying and folding processes.The garments are stored in intelligent closets, so the hospital system knows where everything is, so if a surgeon needs an operating gown of size L, it can be found instantly. Staff access the closets using their ID cards, so the system knows who has what garment. It's a simple, clear application that has apparently been well-executed and delivered immediate benefits to all of the stakeholders. I'm sure that similar projects must be underway as part of our government's impressive multi-billion Connecting for Health initiative, so I would be most grateful if someone could post some information about one.These opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]


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