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Active RFID the leading technology in cargo security, but search not yet over: study

NEW YORK, NY– According to a new study from ABI Research, although the ISO committee concerned with cargo container security has finally released a standard based on active RFID, many end-users would prefer to employ passive RFID solutions, or none at all.

In the absence of a mandate from government, amid continuing questions about the costs and benefits of installing container security and tracking devices, the market for these systems remains largely undeveloped as forces driving and inhibiting its growth seek a balance, said the report.

The cargo tracking and security market is not immune from the active vs. passive cost-benefit-performance debate, says ABI Research director Michael Liard. The ISO standards committee has been deliberating for years, and this year, amid industry rumors suggesting that the US government would mandate inspection of container seals on all incoming containers, it decided in favor of active technology.

However the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not issue any mandate. So end-users have stepped back, maintaining a wait and see position.

Meanwhile, a number of passive RFID technology vendors have now started working with other standards bodies to formulate a standard for less expensive passive RFID technology which, they believe, would be used for container tracking. There is interest in tracking on the part of shippers and port operators, because they see it as an investment which, unlike investment in security solutions, would offer them a clear financial return.

So far, adds research director Mike Ippoliti, the US government has wielded the carrot of expedited processing of sealed containers, rather than the stick of a legal mandate. That carrot has not been tasty enough to tempt any of the interested parties. While nobody wants a container-related breach of security, only if there is a major incident will the government try to impose its will on this industry. If and when that happens, we expect the container security market to explode.

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