During the Al-Nafrah stage of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, huge volumes of pilgrims must be transported to a series of holy sites. A shuttle bus system, using buses from 13 different transit companies and driven by seasonal employees, handles the transportation. Organizers are looking to an RFID system to help manage the logisitical challenges presented by the situation.
As part of the system, roughly 4,000 passive RFID tags have been affixed to the windshields of the fleets of shuttle buses. These tags are scanned by readers 45 RFID readers installed along the shuttle-bus system paths in the holy sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. Data from the readers is then fed into a database application that keeps track of the live entry-exit information.
The system allows organizers to track the locations of the buses, supplementing with extra shuttles when needed. The drivers are paid according to the number of shuttle rounds driven, and the RFID system eliminates the need for hand-tallying of the entry and exit information used to determine payroll. A computer application has been also developed to analyze RFID reader raw data and generate a set of collective statistical reports on the shuttle-bus traffic performance, to be used in future planning by the strategic and operational organizers of the Hajj.
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