By invitation, I recently visited a remote facility in northern Virginia to see a demonstration of NOX – a new Intelligent Perimeter Defense system deployed by the FBI that uses covert Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to track people and assets without their knowledge.
That’s right, using RFID to track people without their knowledge. This system is exactly what the privacy advocates have long feared: Big Brother tracking us with spy chips. As Orwellian as this sounds, the undisputed fact is that this system catches thieves and does so at a fraction of the cost of traditional security solutions.
What makes the NOX system I saw different from traditional security systems is that it uses RFID for clandestine surveillance: RFID readers are hidden inside walls, floors, and ceilings; RFID tags are discretely placed; and only the security personnel know that the system is in place – until the thief gets caught. Then, all the thief knows is that he or she was caught in the act, on video. "It takes a criminal twelve seconds to defeat a lock or fence. Yet, we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to create fences that only provide an illusion of security. NOX creates a virtual perimeter that tells us who is penetrating the perimeter, when they are doing it and, where it's happening. With this information, we can respond with the appropriate level of force and prevent further penetration."
A commander with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), who asked to remain anonymous for this article.
The NOX team has perfected dozens of methods of tagging people without their knowledge.
One of the more covert technologies they employ is ID-Dust, serialized dust particles that can be interrogated like a RFID tag. The NOX team can coat a person or object with it to track movement. ID-Dust can show if an item was handled or it can even be sprinkled on the floor. People unknowingly pick up the ID-Dust on their shoes as they travel through a dusted area. The software combines the video surveillance and RFID information to create an association between the ID-Dust and a person. The ID-Dust allows the person's movement to be tracked around a facility without the person ever knowing he or she is being tracked. While a criminal can easily defeat the motion sensors, the ID-Dust provides covert security with instant alerts when someone enters an area, plus a complete history of exactly where each person traveled and when.
All TIs clean the bottom of your shoes :(
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Thanks goes out to Tony & Jonna Mendez for their profound insight.