NJ Contracted RFID Evacuee Tracking Tech Just Days Before Sandy Formed

Aaron Dykes

Presciently, the State of New Jersey announced a 5-year contract for RFID tracking technology used to assist in evacuation by identifying and monitoring the location of evacuees and emergency assets during hurricanes or other disasters just four days before Hurricane Sandy began to form.

A press release was published October 18, 2012 announcing that Radiant RFID, based in Austin, Texas, would provide the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) with the RFID technology it has already used during disasters in Texas and other locales, as during 2008′s Hurricane Gustav. From the press release:

Radiant RFID will provide the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (OHSP) with an RFID-based managed evacuation solution that tracks evacuees, pets, emergency transport vehicles and commodities deployed at state shelters in preparation for and in the event of a hurricane, natural disaster or other incident to assist in reunification of families.

Hurricane Sandy formed just four days later, October 22, making for notable timing as New England hasn’t been hard hit by a hurricane since 1938. Who could have seen the devastation to New York, New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast coming when that area hadn’t been hit by a major hurricane for some 70 years?

Though New Jersey has not mandated evacuation at this point in time, and may not, parts of Jersey Shore have already been placed under martial law.

FEMA, under Homeland Security, proved unable to even supply enough water to victims of Hurricane Sandy, despite days to plan ahead with the storm’s accurately projected course. Yet the same agencies that brought us post-disaster catastrophes like Katrina (where affected populations where treated as occupied enemies) have asked the population to accept and embrace dangerous technologies ripe for abuse. Members of Congress and others have already requested more than $12 billion in new FEMA funding to provide for recovery from Hurricane Sandy, while the agency’s true legacy lies in hampering and blocking the response by local, state and private/community efforts.

Radiant RFID claims its technology encompasses 18% of the U.S. population. “Along with the 8.8 million residents of New Jersey, Radiant RFID’s solution covers the State of Texas, State of South Carolina, and City of Boston,” the press release states.

The tracking scheme registers evacuees, their pets and other displaced persons with wristbands containing RFID chips that are registered with each individual. These wristbands are scanned whenever evacuees enter buses or arrive at FEMA emergency shelters, enabling Homeland Security to track entire populations during disasters, as well as inventory supplies, transportation and other assets throughout the process.

See Radiant RFID’s graphic, demonstrating the tracking and monitoring loop:

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