Asset tracking systems: The simpler the better

There are many ways to track assets, but the key to a successful system is keeping it simple enough that it does not interfere with work, said Dan Zinn, chief information officer of the Florida State Attorney’s Office for the 15th Judicial Circuit.

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The office, located in Palm Beach County, handles about 20,000 felony cases a year, and those files could be almost anywhere in the four-floor, 45,000-square-foot building or even 15 miles away at the county jail.

When Zinn was looking to simplify the task of keeping track of them, he first looked at bar coding. Scanning the bar code on a file label and feeding that data to the computerized file management system would track the file’s location but only if the label was scanned every time the file was moved.

With a stack of 50 files going to someone’s desk, employees “just won’t do it,” Zinn said. “That means it won’t work.” So bar codes were dropped.

However, using passive radio frequency identification tags with fixed readers at strategic points throughout the office has proven to be a transparent way to track files. Once the system was installed, employees in the office were not required to do anything to track a file. And when they needed to find one they could look it up in the management system with a single keyboard command and see its location on an office floor plan.

“In terms of training,” Zinn said, “the only thing we had to teach the staff was ‘Control-I’.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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