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LIB-RFID-UK  February 2010

LIB-RFID-UK February 2010

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Subject:

Re: Discussing integration issues

From:

Ken Chad <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Discussion List for RFID in Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 24 Feb 2010 15:02:11 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (193 lines)

Mick has a good point about the future direction of systems. Back in 2004
Andrew Pace talked (in Library Journal) about how the ILS (LMS) is being
'dis-integrated' and this idea was also touched on before in this list. 

The 'dis-integration' of the LMS is already progressing of course -albeit
slowly. It is now common (especially in Higher Education) for
search/discovery to be de-coupled' from the LMS--the LMS OPAC simply doesn't
really do the job any more (at least in HE). To make this approach work (web
service) APIs are being developed to enable applications such as 'Vertical
search' (often called 'Discovery services'--e.g. Primo, Encore, Summon,
VuFind etc) to integrate more *fully* with the LMS-including circulation
functions like  making a reservation/request (hold in the parlance of some
LMSs) which, at present, still typically makes a link to the otherwise
semi-redundant OPAC. 

So there is no reason in principle why the same couldn't happen with other
modules. Just as libraries are purchasing  something to replace their LMS
OPAC they may wish to buy a (RFID based) circulation system to replace the
LMS circ module. However right now I don't detect libraries are, in general,
as dissatisfied with their LMS circ modules and they are with their OPACs. I
suspect that if the crunch comes it will be because RFID vendors start to
outpace what the LMS vendors want to do in terms of innovation.  

Of course this putting together of different applications was what libraries
did back in the 70s and 80s before systems became 'integrated'. Pace et al
argue that this 'dis-integrated' approach might return-enabled by a more
modern (more flexible and less costly) integration possibilities. 

Ken

CEO, Ken Chad Consulting Ltd
Tel +44 (0)7788 727 845. Email: [log in to unmask] 
www.kenchadconsulting.com
Skype: kenchadconsulting
Get a pre-launch preview of the 'Local Government Library IT'  Wiki
http://lglibtech.wikispaces.com/
See my recent presentations on slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/kenchad

-----Original Message-----
From: Discussion List for RFID in Libraries
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Mick Fortune
Sent: 24 February 2010 12:26
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Discussing integration issues

Hi MJ

So much to digest here. 

Certainly it sounds as though the approach you're taking is different to
anything currently on the market - and much more aligned with the way in
which I foresee systems developing in the future.

Some thoughts on what you say.

OpenNCIP - or the version I know better, NCIP was indeed intended to extend
the capabilities of SIP but the NISO body that was charged with its delivery
shifted the whole project to an XML based solution after Version 1 was
released which may partly explain why almost no-one has shown any enthusiasm
for deploying it so far. NCIP goes way beyond self-service of course -
which, up until recently was the primary driver for RFID - and is for
example the preferred platform for OCLC's WorldCat product I believe. There
is a NISO working party looking at NCIP in regard to RFID headed by Gail
Wanner but so far nothing concrete has emerged (that I've seen) from their
deliberations.

Of course NISO - and therefore NCIP (the "N" stands for NISO) is a US
organisation working closely with the US market and the US market still
views RFID as something you buy by the yard (it's American so they don't use
metres). So where we seem to be with NCIP is waiting for a sub-committee of
an American standards organisation to decide how best to define a protocol
that they only really use for self-service... Not great for the rest of the
world that has either a) already given up on NCIP and moved on or b) is
about to.

Not saying that NCIP doesn't matter, just suggesting that it may not be the
future.

I can see precisely why you want to be involved in the whole standards
process but I don't really understand your reluctance to join BIC in order
to do so. There are some things we have to spend time and money on just to
keep ourselves informed. How would you run the standards process without
BIC?  

The RFID Alliance is a different animal altogether. I had an email only
yesterday from one of its principal members that gave me their reasons for
not inviting other members to join. He did say I could share its contents
with the list so here they are:

"Happy for you to comment on my behalf to the list. Essentially the RFID
Alliance is represented by the solution providers (UK only) and is nothing
more (or indeed less) than us all working together to ensure that ISO28560
is implemented, and implemented correctly in the UK.

I don't want it to be dismissed as a pure marketing gimmick, as it genuinely
isn't, but it really only applies to hardware/software integrators that need
to implement the standard - hence no real reason for LMS, suppliers, etc. to
be on-board."

Now you might well argue that hardware/software integration is exactly what
you're doing - and I would agree with you - but I don't think the Alliance
are operating in quite the same space as you are. The way in which RFID is
developing in libraries is very different to most other industries - because
that elephant is still in the room - the LMS suppliers. Or more accurately
perhaps, "traditional" LMS suppliers.

What the meeting next week is about is connecting up these traditional LMS
suppliers with the mainstream RFID system suppliers more effectively. From
what you say you don't actually need to be part of that discussion because
you are implementing Koha to interface at the device level. The other
companies have already developed software that drives the devices separate
from the LMS that does the actual management. They sit in between the LMS
and the devices and speak to both. You seem to be implementing Koha to speak
directly to devices. So you don't need the middleware that currently drives
LMS/RFID integration. So you won't miss anything by not being at the
meeting, you won't have the problem the rest of us are trying to solve. It's
not really an RFID issue at all. It's better integration for traditional LMS
models. Koha isn't one of those.

One quick comment on the reverse engineering bit. There ARE tags out there
that have defeated the labs at ALL of the RFID companies currently operating
in the UK. They simply can't be decrypted. At least that's what I've been
told in confidence by three members of the Alliance and at least two
libraries. So don't bang your head against the wall for too long!

But I still think you should consider joining BIC :)

Best

Mick

Mick Fortune       
m. +44 (0)7786 625544         t.   +44 (0)1865 727411

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Discussion List for RFID in Libraries [mailto:LIB-RFID-
> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of MJ Ray
> Sent: 24 February 2010 10:54 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Discussing integration issues
> 
> Mick Fortune wrote:
> > Some RFID suppliers have already begun to develop web services to
> overcome
> > some of SIP's limitations - to take better advantage of RFID's
> ability to
> > process multiple items for example. [...]
> 
> OK, call me naive and a relative newbie in this field compared to the
> rest of you (I try to the let black-box self-issue and gate machine
> suppliers deal with how they talk to the open, documented API on the
> LMS), but isn't OpenNCIP meant to be the way of overcoming some of
> SIP's limitations?  Where does it fall down?
> 
> [...]
> > The implication of MJ's comment is that he has developed direct
> > communication between an RFID device and the Koha LMS. I, for one,
> would
> > certainly like to hear more about that.
> 
> At the moment, it is an extension module for Koha (called C4::RFID)
> which directly calls hardware drivers (RFID::Reader::*) to talk
> to a pretty dumb daemon on the staff machine that sends commands to
> the RFID device.  That has the benefit that the network protocol
> should be the same as the device protocol which makes it simpler to
> debug (and discrepencies between specs and devices has been the main
> challenge so far!), but the main drawback is that the same hardware
> drivers need to be installed on all staff machines and LMS.
> 
> I need to package all this for release and write much more about this
> for Koha-community.org but practical concerns (such as figuring out
> which device is out of spec at one of our libraries now!) are
> currently dominating my time... but it is why I'm very interested in
> both the RFID Alliance and the standardisation process because it
> could halve the number of different specs I'm working with!
> 
> Even more important, it should mean we'd at least have a spec, whereas
> I think we've been trying to extract full info on how one device uses
> RFID tags from one RFID Alliance member for about two years now.
> We've reverse-engineered most of it, but paying libraries shouldn't
> need to pay LMS developers to reverse-engineer their RFID kit :-/
> - is that curse of the early adopters, or just bad business?
> 
> Hope that's interesting,
> --
> MJ Ray (slef)  Webmaster and LMS developer at     | software
> www.software.coop http://mjr.towers.org.uk        |  .... co
> IMO only: see http://mjr.towers.org.uk/email.html |  .... op
> No virus found in this incoming message.
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> 02/23/10 19:34:00

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