RFID Debate: Sheep’s Privacy is Violated

RFID technology has brought new levels of efficiency and accuracy to a host of industries. Manufacturing, logistics, retail, health care, museum curation — all kinds of businesses have benefited. While some have voiced concerns about privacy, their concerns have actually improved the quality of RFID tech, as developers address security issues.

But no previous privacy objections approached the level of protests of French farmers outraged by a government mandate that sheep be tagged with RFID chips. This may seem slightly ridiculous to us in the U.S., where we’ve been tagging animals with RFID chips for years. Even in France, horses have been RFID-tagged for more than 7 years. But the agriculture ministry’s demand that sheep be tagged was a step too far for the average French farmer. “We don’t need software to tell us how our ewes are feeling,” said one farmer.

Outraged shepherds marched in protest, and the ministry reviewed its decision. As it turned out, the farmers’ basic objection – beneath the hype of privacy for sheep – was the industrialization of farming and the threat to their ancient way of living in touch with the land and their livestock.

While it can be argued that RFID isn’t essential to the French small-scale farmer, the technology is undeniably a vital part of doing business in the 21st century. The ROI is well documented, and businesses that don’t adopt RFID may find themselves falling behind their competitors. In fact, some industry leaders make RFID capability a requirement for their suppliers.

Are you RFID-enabled? Tell us your story.

 

Photo © Monkey Business/Fotolia.com

How Yankee Ingenuity Went The Extra Mile

Sharon, Massachusetts, is crammed full of history and historical artifacts. And like much of the area around Boston, it’s also densely built up. When the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations decided to consolidate their scattered collections into a single facility in Sharon, there was no available land to build an expansive new storage facility to house their ever-growing collection of archival materials – everything from Native American treasures to old maps and deeds, early Colonial objects, and more recent historic photographs.

Creative use of available space was the only option, and a high-density storage system saved the day. This time-lapse video shows how over one mile of shelving was installed in a single average-size room.

 

Photo © alpegor/Fotolia.com

Trending: Retail Stores as “Museums”

Retailers have struggled with consumers’ growing habit of “showrooming” – shoppers come to stores to see, touch, learn about, and try on products which they then buy from a low-price low-overhead online retailer. Brick-and-mortar retail grew last year in the single digits, while e-commerce enjoyed a 22% growth rate. Are physical stores going to be phased out completely?

Not at all, says Natasha Baker, writing in Forbes.com. Retailers can and should embrace showrooming and turn it to their advantage. Baker cites one expert who recommends thinking of stores as “museums” where shoppers can go to explore, learn about products, and be entertained. Retailers can gather instant analytics about shoppers’ preferences, just as e-commerce sellers do. Proximity sensors and “smart shelves” can follow individual shoppers via smart phone apps, and they can suggest related products or alert shoppers to customized coupons (think of Amazon’s suggested products). As reported in RetailTouchpoints.com, stores like Bloomingdale’s are even using e-commerce to test new products by displaying them in the store but selling them only online.

By adopting the “store-as-museum” model, retailers can also manage inventory much more effectively. Rather than keep large supplies of inventory in back rooms, stores can keep a relatively small number of products on hand, supplemented by deliveries from their warehouses. With access to the stores’ customer analytics system, warehouses can prep inventory for shipment in advance of a shortage, or fulfill online orders placed in stores.

Embracing the technology of virtual commerce can represent real-world savings to savvy retailers. With less need for in-store storage, retailers can reduce their real estate overhead while maximizing their less-expensive warehouse space to supply both their online shoppers and their “museum” stores.

 

Photo © Ruslan Semichev/Fotolia

Storage Challenge: Truly Unusual Museums

Museums typically fall into a few well-known categories: art, science, and history. But there are some museums specializing in genuinely obscure collections. The Travel Channel’s online magazine offers a selection of some of the most unusual, including:

  • A circus museum
  • A firefighting museum
  • A museum of garbage
  • A spy museum
  • A Pez dispenser museum
  • A museum of bad art

These museums all share one thing in common – as well as creating a roster of ever-changing exhibits, they have to safely store all the fascinating items that aren’t on display. A well-designed high-density storage system is often the best solution for storing the wide variety of shapes and sizes of a museum’s overflow collections. See below how one museum solved their storage problem, then let us know about your strange-storage story.

 

Photo © Vladimir Wrangel – Fotolia

Where’s All the Art at the Louvre?

All art lovers know Paris’ Louvre Museum, but may not realize that there are more than 250,000 works of art that are not on display in the iconic palace-and-pyramid. These priceless works have been stored at a variety of facilities around Paris, creating an organizational nightmare for the curators who are charged with maintaining the welfare and security of the museum’s unique collection. Collection managers have been particularly concerned about the possibility of water damage; the Seine river is overdue for a centennial flood, and the venerable buildings housing the stored artworks are especially vulnerable.

A new public-private initiative is riding to the rescue with a state-of-the-art consolidated storage facility in Lievin, between Paris and Calais. The remarkable building is a work of art itself, with a vegetation-covered sloping roof that blends into the surrounding landscape. Inside the climate-controlled space are areas for restoration, research, and storage. Construction begins in 2017, with move-in scheduled for 2018…assuming the curators can remember all the places they stashed a quarter-million pieces of art.

 

Photo © auris – Fotolia

Storage Detective Seeks Spare Parts for Old Space Shuttles

The space shuttle program came to an end in 2011, but science historians around the country are creating displays of retired shuttles with the help of storage detectives like Dennis Jenkins. A 30-year-plus NASA employee who spent his entire career sending shuttles into space, Jenkins was recruited by the California Science Center to oversee the preparation of the museum’s shuttle exhibit. The mothballed shuttle was missing quite a few pieces when it arrived in Los Angeles, and Jenkins began tracking down parts to complete the exhibit.

He was faced with a daunting task. Budget cuts had forced NASA to reduce its storage, and shuttle parts – 1 million parts, ranging from nuts and bolts to complete engines – had been stashed in government facilities and scrap yards across the U.S. Jenkins had to rely on the memories of a network of former NASA workers to help locate missing pieces scattered from Utah to Washington D.C. Writing in the L.A.Times, Kate Mathers reveals the outcome of Jenkins’ search.

We can only imagine how much easier his job would have been if well-organized high density storage systems had been part of the shuttle program.

 

Photo © fergregory – Fotolia

The Museum Collection Without A Museum: The Center of Military History

In an obscure corner of Virginia’s Ft. Belvoir is a secure climate-controlled warehouse filled with the U.S. Army’s accumulated treasure of museum-quality military artifacts. Aisle after aisle of mobile high-density storage cabinets are filled with historic weaponry. Rows of air-tight cabinets contain thousands of uniforms and insignia, antique and modern. Rack after rack of rolling frames support 16,000 works of art, with soldiers’ paintings hanging beside one-of-a-kind Norman Rockwells. The collection is a military history buff’s fantasy, carefully preserved and thoroughly catalogued. And other than its curators, no one ever sees it – because there’s no museum to exhibit these extraordinary artifacts.

A museum is in fact in the works, but today it exists only on paper. The Army Historical Foundation is raising money to build the museum, called The Center of Military History, and they’ve raised $76 million of the $175 million needed to bring the vision into reality. In the meantime, the treasures remain safe – and hidden – in state-of-the-art storage. Read the full story here: http://bzfd.it/1tdRpdL.

 

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Photo © Aliven – Fotolia

Museum Report: It’s A Big Country – Somebody’s Got To Archive It

A recent report from the Institute of Museum and Library Services finds there are more than 35,000 museums in the U.S., more than twice the number estimated in the 1990’s. That averages out to 700 museums per state, all busily collecting, archiving and exhibiting everything from art and history to science, technology, and nature. Announcing the new census findings at the American Alliance of Museums’ annual conference, IMLS director Susan H. Hildreth said, “Americans love their museums.” – something of an understatement! http://1.usa.gov/1oPN6Tc

And with such diverse offerings as the Little Black Dress Museum, the Barbed Wire Museum, and the International Spy Museum, what’s not to love?

 

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Photo © trekandphoto – Fotolia.com

From Museum Storage to Exhibition: The Story of an Artifact’s Travelling Companion

You may have sat next to one of them on a transatlantic flight, or walked behind one of them on the way to baggage claim, or stood in line with one of them at Customs. You didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but these people were members of an exclusive and little-known clan: the art couriers. When museums loan their fine art or rare historical artifacts to other museums, they call on the services of professional art couriers to accompany the items from storage to exhibition venue. Each courier develops specialized skills; for example, Lynn Grant, who wrote this story: http://bit.ly/1iHdiHv, is a rigging expert and is often hired to travel with heavy, bulky artifacts.

As Grant points out, it seems like a glamorous job, but if you’ve ever experienced a delayed flight or a visa issue, imagine how the problems would multiply if you were responsible for the safe arrival of priceless works of art. Nevertheless, for art experts with itchy feet, it can be an ideal career.

 

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Photo © Elnur – Fotolia.com

How One New England Town Created Room For An Extra Mile

Sharon, Massachusetts, is crammed full of history and historical artifacts. And like much of the area around Boston, it’s also densely built up. When the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations decided to consolidate their scattered collections into a single facility in Sharon, there was no available land to build an expansive new storage facility to house their ever-growing collection of archival materials – everything from Native American treasures to old maps and deeds, early Colonial objects, and more recent historic photographs.

Creative use of available space was the only option, and Yankee ingenuity saved the day. Watch the time-lapse video as over one mile of high-density storage shelving is installed in a single room: http://bit.ly/1grz54z

 

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Photo © Chee-Onn Leong – Fotolia.com