This month the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) selected ERG Transit Systems and Northrop Grumman IT to install and operate a new Regional Customer Service Center for its smart card-based fare collection system, known as SmarTrip.
The project involves the establishment and operation of a smart card customer service center, card management, and the clearing and settling of smart card transactions across 17 transit agencies in Northern Virginia, Maryland and the Washington DC area. The new system will interface with existing installed hardware including equipment from ERG rival Cubic (see ContactlessNews, December 2002 Issue).
ERG will be responsible for the management of smart cards and operation of the data processing system incorporating clearing, settlement, and financial management. ERG will use its existing central computer processing system installed in the San Francisco Bay Area to perform these functions.
The project calls for ERG to operate the system for a period of five years, with two subsequent one-year options. The initial 5-year contract is worth approximately $20 million.
Northrop Grumman IT will be responsible for the distribution of smart cards and operation of the customer service center. Work is expected to commence on the project during the first quarter of 2003 pending approval by the Maryland Transit Association.
Low-cost RFID tags break-out in a big way
Alien Technology Corporation has won an order from Gillette for 500 million low-cost RFID tags. This is the first major commercial order for products incorporating the electronic product code (EPC) developed by researchers and member companies at the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Alien Technology credits its patented manufacturing approach, Fluidic Self-Assembly, for allowing the integrated circuits to be cost-effectively handled and packaged into EPC tags in large volumes. Alien had previously leveraged its assembly expertise in an attempt to fabricate small flexible displays for smart cards in 2000.
EPC labels contain individual item serial numbers and other information such as manufacturing location, date codes, and other vital supply chain data. Manufacturers also expect dramatic reductions in counterfeit branded products due to the use of EPC. The tags operate in the 915 MHz range.
Philips Electronics has also announced its intention to produce low-cost chips in large numbers with a new process called I-connect.