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  • Writer's pictureTERAS Teknologi

Did You Know RFID Technology Can Play a Role in Smart Cities?

In today's world, things that were once considered science fiction are now becoming the norm. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Home are common in homes and offices around the globe. Self-driving cars are no longer just a concept, but rather a reality that is making its way onto our roads. From IoT to VR, there are many new technological advancements that we have witnessed in recent years. Smart cities are one of these fast-evolving fields and we are going to see a real case of how an RFID system can be applied to a smart city project.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is an urban center where everyone is connected through technology to make living and working there more convenient and efficient. A smart city is also a city that uses technology to improve the lives of its residents. A city may be "smart" when it has the potential to use technology to improve lives, either because its residents wish to, or because it can afford to, or a mix of both. A smart city should be more sustainable, efficient, and inclusive. It should also be resilient in which, able to withstand and recover quickly from disruptions.

How will RFID play a role in Smart Cities?

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. It is a technology that uses radio waves to identify items and track them in real-time. With RFID technology, it's possible to track everything from inventory to people. It allows for seamless communication between devices and people, which can reduce traffic congestion, improve public safety and security, and so much more!

Let's start with what makes up an RFID tag. An RFID tag is just an object with an integrated circuit, (RFID chip) and antennas that can be read remotely by an RFID reader. RFID readers consist of antennas that emit and receive radio signals back from tags. Simply said, the antennas transmit and receive radio signals while the chip stores data. The chips convert the data into information sent to a master database where it is stored, analyzed, and communicated to other parties if necessary. These tags can be attached to any object or product for tracking purposes, meanwhile, these readers are handheld or attached to the poles of a building, such as in toll booths.

A smart city that uses RFID for its infrastructure will help improve security, manage traffic, provide efficient and effective healthcare, and improve the overall quality of life of its residents. The technology will also help the city save money and time by reducing operational costs and increasing productivity. RFID systems are also environmentally friendly, as they use less power than other technologies such as barcode systems and can help cities reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Examples of RFID Applications in Smart Cities

Smart cities use smart technologies to improve the lives of the people living there. Many factors can contribute to the success of a smart city, but one of the most important is the implementation of advanced technologies. RFID technology is one of the most important components in a smart city because of its wide range of applications.


In hospitals, RFID technology is already being accurate patient records and prevent medication errors. When a patient leaves with an implanted device in their clothing or are equipped with a bracelet with an RFID tag, they can be tracked easily using this technology. This allows nurses to know which room the patient is always in and whether they require assistance getting around. Pantai Hospital Ipoh, for example, is one of the private hospitals in Malaysia that uses RFID technology to automate administration routine tasks in order to provide better patient care and allow nurses to focus on more critical or time-consuming tasks (Abd Rahman et al., n.d.).


Libraries have replaced their traditional barcode system with RFID technology. Books are now identified and located using RFID tags, making it easier for librarians to manage the lending, returning, cataloging, and tagging processes. Without having to point to a separate device, the RFID tag also can contain identifying information such as a book's title, author, publisher, ISBN, material type, and other data. The information is read by an RFID reader, which replaces the

standard barcode reader commonly found at a library's circulation desk.

Agriculture and livestock

RFID technology can be an effective tool to ensure the security of food products, as well as for agricultural and livestock

management, especially for tracking diseases in animals. Australia was one of the first countries to adopt RFID technology in the late 1990s. The Australian government was particularly enthusiastic about implementing the innovation. For example, all cattle in Australia are equipped with RFID tags on their bodies, allowing farmers to recognize each animal as well as its condition at birth.

Waste management

Adopting an RFID system in waste management is the most prominent way of using RFID for the effective and environmentally friendly management of waste across many countries around the world. With just one tap of a tablet or a phone, it is easy to keep track of the collection systems. RFID technology, for instance, can help waste and recycling industries in the tracking, labor-order management, and repairs to garbage containers, and the inspection and routing control of garbage trucks. For example, the electronic food waste bin equipped with RFID is one of the most notable technologies used by South Koreans in their waste management system (Radio-Frequency Identification).

Street Lighting System

RFID technology is used in street lighting systems to help increase the effectiveness of light assets. RFID, motion sensors, wireless networks, emergency calls, and digital controllers are integrated into smart light poles to gather data in real time, process the data, and relay the data back to the control center. It has the capability of controlling and directing lighting columns to turn lights on, and off, and dim the lights, according to needs. Since it can be controlled remotely through a control center or mobile phones, it helps local governments to save between 50% to 70% in energy costs for lights when compared with conventional mercury-vapor lamps or sodium lamps.

Automated Toll Collection System

RFID technology is used in toll collection systems to speed up traffic movement and reduce traffic congestion in toll plazas. This system allows the driver to complete the toll payment quickly, as the RFID readers scan the tag and send radio signals to a transponder, allowing the driver to drive past a toll plaza without stopping at a toll gate. It then sends an ID number that is entered on the car's license plate, and a user fee is charged by the e-payment

system simultaneously. For example, TERAS is helping highways in Malaysia speed things up to the point that you do not need to tap your Touch 'n Go card on a reader or check that your SmartTAG has enough battery power. Now, when the car passes through the toll plaza, the RFID reader scans the tag and automatically opens the gates and debits the toll amount from the vehicle owner's Touch 'n Go E-wallet account.


The future of the smart city is now and is tightly intertwined with RFID technology. This technology could help urban officials gather data, control traffic, enhance public safety, and effectively run government services. As Malaysia's leading RFID payment system integrator for highways, TERAS will continue to strongly support the government's smart cities agenda. As the world continues to grow, technological advances keep being made, and the future for smart cities is only going to become brighter.

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