A team of MBA students at Canada’s University of Victoria have suggested an RFID-based solution to help safely find and discard used needles discarded by illegal drug users in parks and other public places. The project, which the students call NeedleSight, won the “people’s choice” award at the university’s annual trade show.
According to the NeedleSight plan, five cent RFID tags would be embedded in syringes given away by needle exchanges and other community health organizations (the needles themselves cost around twenty cents.) Park clean-up crews and groups who specifically work to clean up discarded needles could then use RFID readers to detect the needles from about a meter away, ideally cutting the risk of accidental needle jabs and improving clean-up rates.
The next step for the students is to formulate feasibility and business plans for NeedleSight. Early challenges to the project’s feasibility are cost and convenience. The readers used for detection would not only have to affordable, but also small enough to work as part of a clean-up worker’s standard issue safety gear.
A representative from one community group which hands out needles raised privacy concerns, as well. Drug users might hesitate to take tagged needles, due to fears that it would make it possible for them to be tracked while using or dealing drugs.
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