Documents have been a part of human history even before the invention of paper. Every recorded transaction generates a document and these are preserved for varying lengths of time depending on their importance. Documents that establish or seek to dispute identity and ownership or are a permanent record of important events and transactions, especially documents generated by the government and statutory authorities, need to be kept safely often over a person’s lifetime. Even secure electronic documents are based on physical documents that are inherently unsecure.
While archival documents are largely confined in secure areas with limited access only to researchers, other important documents such as legal, financial and health records are often retrieved from time to time and handled by various people before being returned to storage. Institutions such as banks and insurance companies, and agencies such as document custodial services have in their possession huge quantities of important documents that require frequent reference. Similarly law courts handle millions of case papers and files in the course of their proceedings.
It is therefore imperative that the security of these documents is also ensured during their movement and transfer from the storeroom to the courtroom, office or any other place of examination and scrutiny. Physical documents can be misplaced, damaged, tampered or destroyed, and this loss can have serious consequences. Locating a particular document amongst a pile of similar records is also time-consuming. Without efficient document management, this is akin to searching for a needle inside a haystack.
RFID tracking of documents provides real-time visibility on a large-scale, which is not possible through other methods. Tags affixed to each document and file allow efficient remote monitoring and live tracking that is not dependent on either line-of-sight visibility or individual manual scrutiny. Since each tagged document and file can be uniquely identified within a stack of files that are read simultaneously by the RFID reader, the savings in time and effort are enormous. Document movement from one location to another is automatically verified by RFID readers at each transit location till it reaches its final destination. The system therefore establishes and ensures that a chain of custody is maintained throughout document storage, issue, movement and receipt, with a similar process occurring when the document is returned to storage. This in turn automatically creates an audit trail that provides a history of document custody.
RFID thus provides automated compliance, eliminates human error, bias and mischief, and ensures transparency in operations with the highest accuracy. Automated tracking enables automated alarms that are triggered in real-time whenever a tagged document is sought to be retrieved from custody by an unauthorized person or taken to a wrong or unauthorized location. Since each tagged document has its own unique digital identity, it can be easily searched and referenced in a database, and its physical location on a rack and shelf known to the system. This also allows an alarm to be triggered when a particular document tag from within a database list of a bunch of outgoing or incoming files cannot be read by the RFID reader since the document is missing from the bunch. If the document or file has only been misplaced, it is easily located when its RFID tag is automatically read on another rack or shelf.
Document tracking through RFID ensures that the current location of any document within the premises is immediately known to the system administrator and all other authorized persons at any given moment. It enables easy and accurate retrieval from storage and also identifies the current custodian of the file at its current location in transit. With the number of documents exponentially increasing all the time, document tracking and management through RFID is a fast growing market that provides the most reliable method of ensuring both security as well as prompt and accurate retrieval of documents. RFID tracking of documents brings efficiency in time savings and cost savings in a previously inefficient and lethargic sector, thereby improving compliance, productivity and performance, resulting in improved services to customers and the common man.