RFID technology is rapidly gaining ground in the access control industry. One area where it can provide significant advantages is in vehicle access control. Cars, trucks, or other vehicles--even forklifts in warehouse environments--can be tagged with passive RFID transmitters. When a restricted area, or a parking lot entrance, is approached, a reader at the site accesses the tag.
If the vehicle is authorized, the gate opens and it is allowed to pass.
In the very simplest systems, the mechanism works in pass/fail mode--access granted or access denied. However, if the data from the tag can be connected with a database, functionality of the system is greatly enhanced. Clearly it is not practical or cost effective to locate a PC at each entry point where an RFID reader and the gate control mechanism are located. However, as both require an RS-232 serial connection to communicate with a computer, making input from them available across a network once required just that.
Now, with serial device servers, RS232 RFID readers and gate control mechanisms can be remotely monitored and controlled via Ethernet. The above diagram depicts a standard network-enabled RFID parking applications. This network-enabled configuration opens up many possibilities for RFID-based access control systems. For example, a prepaid account can be linked to the car's RFID tag. The RFID reader authorizes the car for entry, logs entry time, and transmits that data back to the server, then the gate mechanism is activated and the car enters. A similar exit point is configured, and when the car leaves the RFID reader logs exit time, releases the gate mechanism, and transmits the exit data back to the server. The customer's account is then debited for the time she spent in the parking lot. The advantages of this type of system include not only easy access for the customer, but the elimination of staffing at entry and exit points.
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