Asset tracking

Hello guys, I have a new project I was thinking an Arduino would be perfect for.

The problem: Gated assisted living community with 5 buildings. Two-way radios and pagers assigned to each building for Care staff to use for communication (radios) and call system for residents (pagers). End of shift means tired workers sometimes working double shifts are ready to get out of Dodge, occasionally taking the radios and pagers home with them, leaving the community and residents vulnerable.

The idea: Tag the radios and pagers and if they are within X distance from reader (point equal to where their vehicle actives the gate), prevent the gate from opening, possibly with additional alarming.

Originally I thought RFID would be the answer, but after research it seems this wouldn't work well with the tags being inside a vehicle, even if the tags were active.
After looking for other options I came across BLE beacons. I have no first hand (or 2nd, or 3rd) experience, but from everything I can tell, they could work.
Most of the information I find about using them with an Arduino were posts a few years old so wanted to check with you guys about this.

  • Viability of adding BLE beacons to each radio and pager which operate in reverse of the norm, activating only when inside determined range instead of outside.

Or maybe there is a better option I haven't found yet?

The reader could be mounted on a gate that would be directly beside the car when it pulls up and triggers the gate to open, within about 4-8 feet of the devices I'm trying to prevent from leaving the property, though they will be inside a vehicle.

Thoughts?

RFID doesn't have the range; BLE beacons may work if you have enough battery to spare.

Have the guard at the gate ask everyone whether they remembered to hand in their pager.

There are commercial Bluetooth tags that will give a warning if the tag is to far away, must be possible to reverse that and get as warning when the tag is in range?

It's an automatic unmanned gate. Code is required to enter after hours otherwise it works like a sensed traffic light with antenna imbedded in asphalt.
Pull up and the gate opens.

That's what I'm hoping, Bringamosa. I would imagine those beacons are programmed to trigger alarm when they lose signal, just need to figure out if I can program them to operate backwards.

I'm heading to sparkfun now, see what they have that I can do some tests with.

An hour and a half spent at sparkfun. Fun times! SparkFun times?
Very nice facility, super nice people.

One of their enginerds I spoke with wasn't optimistic that ble would work through a car, but I hopefully got enough stuff to tinker with and get in trouble anyway.
No ble, just 2 hm-13 boards and an ftdi breakout to see if I can even get anywhere at all with it.
If I can figure out how to get them operating in the way desired, I'll get a ble beacon and test it.

Give them fair warning, then take money out of their pay for violations, no better way.
After all, it is a WHS issue.

I agree, bluejets. I would really like them to issue everyone a radio and pager then hold them accountable.
But with so many employees and temp agents coming and going, that would be expensive.
Instead there is 2 radios and pagers assigned to each building and whoever is doing the 2 primary jobs each day, and each shift uses those radios and pagers.
Still, someone could be in charge of signing in/out the devices, but for at least 1 shift each day there is no management on site and weekends would be difficult as well.

Maybe it would be easier to make a vending machine of sorts. Stick in your DL and the device unlocks from a charging station. But even that wouldn't stop tired workers from forgetting to swap back at the end of their shift.
It's not a huge problem, happens maybe once every few months, but it is Life Safety issue so I'm taking my time to try to find a solution, plus it gives me a chance to learn. Win-win.

ScaleGurus:
I agree, bluejets. I would really like them to issue everyone a radio and pager then hold them accountable.
But with so many employees and temp agents coming and going, that would be expensive.
Instead there is 2 radios and pagers assigned to each building and whoever is doing the 2 primary jobs each day, and each shift uses those radios and pagers.

What I meant was, if the radios or whatever go out the door, find who it is, give fair warning, then impose fines if it happens again.
As I said, you claim it is a workplace safety issue so there should be no problem kickbacks.

ScaleGurus:
Still, someone could be in charge of signing in/out the devices, but for at least 1 shift each day there is no management on site and weekends would be difficult as well.

That would simply be the person that has to use the devices. They pick it up, sign the book, and mark the time they take it out. Maybe identify with their staff tag or so if you want to automate this part.

Then upon return, mark the time they're returned. This could be automated with an RFID tag on the device (range doesn't matter as it's in the interest of the employee to swipe it and make sure it gets registered).

If they don't return it after their shift, the person following knows exactly who to call (it's marked in the book), and management knows who to send the warning to.

Indeed fair chance it doesn't work through a car (which acts as Faraday cage). Even more so if the tag is in a bag in the trunk, then no RF will come out for sure.

Overall I think it is mostly a human/management issue, much more than it is a technical issue, and it should be approached like that. No technical solution, though of course technology can very well be an integral part of the solution.

Those are all great ideas, and sound simple enough, but we’re talking about humans after all, and to err, is human, as they say.

Determining who took them isn’t usually much of an issue, but getting them to return it before it’s needed is.

Writing them in/out is really just another thing that would get forgot about, realize were not talking about high quality, professional, thorough people here.
While we do have some really good workers, even they or anyone can rush out the door and forget something that is attached to their belt or pants.
It’s never someone purposefully taking them home in their purse or something, just simply an out of sight out of mind scenario.

The idea of an alarm at the gate is simply an attempt to prevent it or remind them they have one.
The Care staff travels in between the buildings often so something inside the buildings wouldn’t work.

As far as the signal getting through the car goes,
Picture an “L” shaped fence. When a car pulls up to the fence, they pull up inside the L parallel to the short part at the bottom like: L<–, and the long part of the L is what opens.
The reader could be mounted to the short side of the L, higher than most cars pointing down and back a little essentially pointing directly into the drivers window while the car is stopped waiting for the gate to open. If the radio or pager is on their hip, I can’t believe that some form of a RF signal couldn’t be detectable. I can leave my phone in my car and use my Bluetooth headset outside and travel 40+ feet away with no problems, granted that’s not BLE.

I did read before about their being pagers available that have a built in alarm if they go out of range. The paging system is local, not through cellular network. Might have to look into getting that setup for those. They are the most important device anyway.

I’m still going to keep hammering away at the Bluetooth idea, if nothing else I’ll learn a good bit about setting them up and programming.

Thanks for the input. Any other thoughts or ideas don’t hesitate to share.

For the bluetooth alarm, if you want to go that way, it probably makes more sense to set such an alarm at the door to the parking lot or so. Before they get into the car, before the signal is shielded. Then the alarm would go off when they take it out of the area where it's supposed to be.

Unfortunately, that's not an option.
All parking is in the center of our property and the buildings are around the outside. As said in last post, employees go between all of the buildings. They walk through the parking lot to get there.
All of it is inside the fence and there's only one gate entrance and exit.

What also tends to work quite well is a big sign at the exit gates reading something to the tune of "did you remember to return your walkie talkie?"

Useless responses...... "place a sign" or, "give them a fine". At least if you suggest something else keep it on the traking part right?

When people ask questions without giving enough information most responses are you are waiting our time! And look at this up here :S

Not all problems demand a technical solution, especially when the problem is human in nature.

Don't get me wrong I love all the help on the forum.

But asking for help is for a technical solution in this case.

Heck I bet half of solving this problem is the fun of paying with the arduino's.

I the end I'm curious if something can be created here :slight_smile: