Technology to prevent baby-lifting in Tamil Nadu government hospitals

To prevent infants being lifted, Government Hospitals in Tamil Nadu are implementing RFID technology

Updated - March 05, 2019 03:03 pm IST

Published - March 05, 2019 10:45 am IST

CHENNAI, 07/02/2019 : For City Desk :  Department of Health and Family Welfare is implementing a novel initiative - biometric security system. The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging to check child lifting and stealing of new born babies or mix up of infants in hospitals (A green tag will be given to mother, while an orange tag to an attendant that they will wear around their neck. The RFID tag will be on the ankle of the child). A scene at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam / The Hindu

CHENNAI, 07/02/2019 : For City Desk : Department of Health and Family Welfare is implementing a novel initiative - biometric security system. The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging to check child lifting and stealing of new born babies or mix up of infants in hospitals (A green tag will be given to mother, while an orange tag to an attendant that they will wear around their neck. The RFID tag will be on the ankle of the child). A scene at Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam / The Hindu

In October 2016, a newborn was stolen from a Government hospital in Salem. The same year, a similar incident took place at a Government hospital in Trichy. A young couple at a Government hospital in Vijayawada too found that their baby was missing one morning in July 2016.

Baby-lifting has been prevalent in our Government hospitals for years. With sprawling buildings, and hundreds of people walking in and out every day, these hospitals have struggled with the crime, despite CCTV cameras installed. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology may just be the perfect and cost-effective solution to this.

Last month, Tamil Nadu’s Department of Health and Family Welfare implemented an RFID security system at the Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital in Chennai, to prevent infant lifting and mix-ups. Here is how it works: an RFID tag will be tied to the baby’s ankle, and its mother and her attendant will be given corresponding tags to wear around their necks. If the baby happens to be carried through the gate by anyone other than the two of them, an alarm will go off, alerting the authorities.

The technicalities

RFID uses radio communication between the tag and the reader to identify the object that has the tags attached to it. K Elavarasan, project engineer, Reco Safety & Automation, and Bits Technology, the companies that implemented the system, explains that an RFID reader placed at the main entrance and exit points of the hospital will read the signals that the tags send out. “The tag has an RFID card in it,” he explains. The card has a silicon microchip that stores information, which the reader detects upon activation.

Elavarasan explains that this information is stored in a computer system within the hospital’s premises. “Only if the corresponding tags leave the exit, will a green light appear in the system and they can walk out without being stopped by the security guard,” he explains.

RFID has been around for decades. Its use dates back to the WWII, when radar technology, technically RFID now, was used to identify whether an aircraft belonged to the enemy or not. Since then, it is being implemented across various industries, such as at toll collection booths; tracking of baggage at airports; by pharmaceutical companies to track their stock in warehouses; and in automobile production to track the progress of a part in the assembly line.

Right now, the RFID security system at the Kilpauk hospital is at an experimental stage. But Elavarasan hopes that once the initial glitches are ironed out, it will be employed in hospitals across the State.

Byte-sized play-by-plays of tech concepts

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