Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) and Ubiquitous Sensor Networks (USNs) will bring forth the productivity for entrepreneurs and the innovation for the public service. From the two technologies, the competitiveness of the nation will get stronger and the whole society will evolve into a ubiquitous world. RFID and USN will connect everything in society.
In the coming years of the ubiquitous society, RFID and USN will enable workers on management, logistics and distribution to do their jobs more efficiently. Managing products individually and collectively will be easier. Workers can have information about where the products are going on in real time. That means all the visibility that workers and their employers wish to have is possible. Entrepreneurs can pursue the ultimate efficiency and clarity in logistics and distribution. Furthermore, they can dramatically reduce the whole cost. This will be the greatest merit that RFID and USN will be known for.
The Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) is focusing its top priority on RFID and USN. The MIC evaluates those two technologies as the new visions for the future. That is why the Ubiquitous Korea policy and IT 839 Initiatives that the MIC pursues take RFID and USN as the two main pivotal technologies. The MIC will take any measure to meet the demands of RFID and USN in the market. Also, it will help civil sectors develop the related technologies and the standards of RFID and USN.
Since 2004, the MIC has taken a variety of initiatives to create a new environment in which businesses related to RFID and USN applications can spring out and answer the necessity of demand. It has also explored and tested a lot of new services and business models. These market-vitalizing policies increased the market from 55 billion won (US$60 million) in 2003 to 327 billion won (US$357 million) in 2006. This is a huge growth.
The price of RFID tags has dropped from two thousand won (US$2.18) to two hundred won (US$0.22). RFID has never seen such a growth in its short history. Unfortunately, domestic companies have yet to be aggressive in investment and in adapting RFID to their logistics and distribution.
The lack of confidence in investment is attributed to hesitation. If a success is seen, companies will come out from behind the curtain. In this circumstance, it is hard for the government to push such policies as compulsory attachment of RFID and to guarantee a tax-cut for participating companies. The MIC should present some successful cases of RFID and USN, and then it should work together with sixteen the ministries, such as the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to create a grand project for RFID and USN. Actually, these sixteen ministries gave birth to the Blueprint for RFID and USN.
According to the blueprint, the government will revise nine laws by 2008 to support the market. It will force all harbors to tag RFID onto shipping containers. Food and medicine is also the target. Laws will be made for that matter, thus improving the logistics and distribution. Those who meet the level the government sets will be given incentives such as tax cuts and monetary assistance.
In the financial aspect, the government plans monetary support for companies that come up with successes in RFID and USN. By 2008, it will release 38.6 billion won (US$42.1 million) for that purpose and the total amount will be 311.9 billion won (US$430.0 million). The financial support will be exposed to 17 sectors such as food and medicine, shipment and cargo, inland distribution, agriculture, national defense, welfare, and child safety.
If every policy keeps on the right track, a huge cost reduction effect will be shown. For example, the cost of handling food wastes will drop by 10 % because RFID will rationalize food distribution. Drugs and medicines will be more reliable because RFID will tell fake drugs and medicines from the authentic ones. RFID tagged drugs and non RFID tagged drugs will be separated in the drugstore in real time. This means that safety in the market will be guaranteed. Also, sensor technology will reduce the death toll of livestock. Sensor technology will be advanced as much as RFID technology.
Sensors can check the temperature, pulse and humidity of livestock. The information sensors give will enable farmers to more carefully raise their animals. Experts forecast that the average death toll of pigs will go down from 13% to 8%."
The MIC is working together with other countries, such as China and Japan. The MIC had a working-level conference with them recently, and also takes part in RFID and USN-related exhibitions that each country held.
RFID and USN exports have been increasing from 8.4 billion won (US$9.2 million) in 2003 to 16.8 billion won (US$18.3 million) in 2006. This year will see more than a 100% net-increase.