2007-09-30 17:49:34

German "GI" endorses RFID and wants more

The german Gesellschaft für Informatik (Informatics Society) has held a meeting on transportation and logistics, promoting RFID due to its positive effects on that sector. Effects on the right to privacy remained unnaed.

According to the GI, up to 20 percent of the CO2 pollution caused by logistics could be eliminated using RFID tags in a distributed computing system. The GI imagines a routing protocol between the RFID chips to determine both message and physical paths from source to destination. This is what logistics companies already do using barcodes (packet tracking systems) to some extent.

According to the GI, both the tagged items and messages between the items shall be routed «like on the Internet». For physical routing of the tagged items, this shouldn't be a problem since it would be relatively easy to determine an «AS path» at the packing station, which would mean however that the routing information for the entire planet has to be kept at every packing station. However, aggregation is likely to happen in an adequately numbered system.

Inter-chip routing is however not feasible this way. There is no reason to assume that RFID chip numbers will be in any particular order at any possible point in time, so the average prefix size, assuming packages of 128 pieces are sent at average, would be 289, or 618'970'019'642'690'137'449'562'112, with 96-bit RFIDs. Aggregation would most likely be hard to impossible. But so is keeping a routing table of 619 septillion entries on every RFID chip in the world.

If every of these prefixes consisted of a 96-bit identifier and a 7-bit mask, the amount of memory to be kept on every RFID chip would be 492'581'209'243'648 Petabytes, or 481'036'337'152 Exabytes (481 billion exabytes). With Transflash technology, it is possible to store as much as 8GB on a square centimeter. Such a storage, which would have to save data without refresh cycles, i.e. battery power, for passive RFID chips, would thus have a size of 64'563'604'257'983'430'656 square centimeters, or 6'456'360'425 square kilometers (6 billion square kilometers). This is 673 times the area of China, or 12 times the area of the entire planet (including seas).

Also, privacy related aspects have been left out entirely. It would be desirable to also have a little focus on these issues which have been raised by the Stop RFID campaign. Otherwise, the science of informatics risks to fall to the Wernher von Braun excuse: «Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down, that's not my department!» says Wernher von Braun.

Posted by Tonnerre Lombard | Permanent link | File under: general, news