RFID Gets Under Their Skin

A COMPANY IN OHIO has incorporated use of human-implanted RFID chips into its employee access control system.

CityWatcher.com, Cincinnati, provides electronic surveillance for public safety and government departments and businesses. The company stores images of neighborhood crime, interiors and exteriors of buildings and software that can be accessed by multiple users through an open-source, Internet-based monitoring service.

Since December, the company of seven employees has used the Pinnacle access control system from Sielox Security Systems, Thorofare, N.J., along with proximity cards. However, company employees were sharing cards and using each others’ cards to gain access to unauthorized areas.

In February, Six Sigma Security Inc., Cincinnati, installed and integrated VeriChip Corp.’s VeriGuard Security Suite, featuring VeriChip’s human-implantable RFID microchip, at CityWatcher.com.

The added feature is used to open the door to the video storage room, one of the four doors at the building. Chips about the size of a grain of rice were implanted into three employees’ arms on a volunteer basis. The passive RFID chip is located between the elbow and the wrist. Once the arm is within six inches of the scanner, it reads the chip, which stores a number, and verifies the number to a database. Once verified, the scanner knows whether or not the individual has access to the door.

“We wanted not only to improve security for highly secure areas, but to do so with the next generation of product that would integrate with our existing system,” says Sean Darks, CityWatcher CEO. “The VeriChip was able to accomplish that goal.”

Darks adds that he appreciates the convenience of the chip being embedded in his arm. “Right now, I cannot find my car keys, but I have my chip,” he says.

The system was easily integrated with the current security access control system. The installation included integrating the VeriGuard system with CityWatcher’s existing Pinnacle access control system manufactured by Sielox (formerly Checkpoint Access Systems).

“We feel that the VeriChip is superior to other conventional types of access control solutions in that the VeriChip cannot be tampered with, lost or stolen,” says John Procter, spokesman for VeriChip Corp. “Being under the skin, you cannot see it or feel it.” Darks says in the future, the company may expand the system throughout the facility or to all four doors.

A physician must install the chip. Dr. Jim Scott with Doctor’s Urgent Care, Milford, Ohio, performed the application of the implantable microchip. With eight facilities throughout Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Middletown, and Dayton; Doctor’s Urgent Care has 10 physicians available at their facilities to implant the microchip, which is used for both medical, as well as security purposes. The VeriGuard and VeriChip products were distributed through Access Systems International LLC and its authorized sales agent, Six Sigma Security Inc.

Another use for the chip is VeriMed, which uses it in a medical environment to allow patients to be linked to their records in case of an emergency. Hospitals can scan individual’s chip, and with that and an authorized password, they can log-on to the online secure database, which brings up the patient’s name, his or her physician’s name and phone number, the patient’s medical records and history, even living will and organ donor status. Procter says 68 hospitals have signed up, and approximately 70 people in the United States and about 2,000 people worldwide have a VeriChip implant.

However, the United States is behind in embracing this technology. For example, workers at the organized-crime division of Mexico’s attorney general’s office in Mexico City use VeriChip for access control to high-security areas. Hundreds of patrons of nightclubs in Barcelona, Spain, and Rotterdam, Netherlands, have gotten VeriChips to allow them to avoid long waits in lines and to run tabs at clubs.

In October 2004 VeriChip, a subsidiary of Applied Digital, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for implanting chips in humans, Procter says. A researcher at Applied Digital was struck by the sight of firefighters writing their badge numbers on their arms during the 9/11 tragedy in case they were lost.