RFID vs Barcodes

Barcodes, QR codes and RFID tags are all extremely powerful tools for communicating a lot of information using a small amount of space.

They are also a vital part of electronic call monitoring, enabling field staff to electronically log where they are and when. The two most accessible technologies used for this purpose are RFID and Barcodes or QR codes.

A barcode is a visual representation of data which is read by a scanner to decode. This is an accessible, inexpensive and proven form of tracking field staff.

Barcode Pro’s

  • It is cheap and easy to produce barcodes using internal systems
  • Barcodes work with a large range of the latest Android Smartphones, from entry level prices
  • 1D barcodes can capture simple information such as a staff member’s ID and 2D barcodes can be used to link and show web pages if required
  • Barcodes can be scanned by multiple providers wishing to access the information and  removes the need to have confidential information stored physically on site

Barcode Con’s

  • It is possible to copy a barcode. Therefore, the check call GPS location data can optionally be sent to combat this security risk

RFID technology uses radio waves to exchange data between a reader and an electronic tag attached to an object.

 RFID Pro’s

  • Simple; it is easy for field staff to check in/out
  • The provider is not able to copy the RFID tag and perform check calls from alternate locations.

 RFID Con’s

  • A cost is incurred for each RFID Tag, making it the more expensive option
  • RFID tags are not so easy to obtain and must be ordered and re-ordered from a 3rd party
  • RFID technology is compatible with a restricted number of NFC Reader enabled phones, forcing the use of old mobile phones and associated technology
  • It is possible for a staff member to register the wrong tag, when multiple service users reside at the same address

So what do you think? Are RFID tags the way forward or are the cost and accessibility implications likely to sway businesses towards the barcode option?