Purpose – This article aims to discuss challenges to Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)-based services from a user perspective located within sociology, anthropology and science and technology studies. Design/methodology/approach – Two cases of toll/ticketing RFID technologies are explored: the mature AutoPASS (tolling on public roads) and the newly implemented Flexus/Ruter Travelcard (public transport) in Norway. A methodologically triangulation of qualitative data is applied to trace the history of RFID implementation, and to compare the benefits proclaimed by suppliers with the hands-on experience of users. Findings – The RFID benefits proclaimed by suppliers were, to a large extent, shared by users in the case of AutoPASS, but to a lesser extent in the case of Flexus/Ruter Travelcard. The cases illustrate that RFID applications are heterogeneous products with different levels of maturity and complexity, applied to fields and services with varied user-groups, functional requirements and privacy concerns. Vital to the success of RFID-based services is good management, compliance with Data Protection Regulations and providing user’s an experience of greater ease-of use and added-value in their everyday lives in comparison to previous systems. Practical implications – Future research should broaden perspectives and methodologies to better grasp the complex interplay among RFID applications, users and the environment. This entails moving beyond a focus on discursive adoption to ethnographic studies of appropriation and how technology affects social practice. Originality/value – RFID is undergoing an extremely expansive usability phase – commercially and socially. Research on RFID is scare and fragmented with few contributions from social science. Studies that privilege user perspectives tend to address the needs and concerns of business rather than of users.
info – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 2, 2014