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Asset Management in the Canadian Federal Government

  and the enabling technologies: barcodes, RFID, BLE, mobile computing

SageData is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Canadian Federal Government House of Commons Responsible public sector stewardship of physical (and even intangible) assets is becoming a hot topic as concepts such as spending transparency, threat risk assessment and accountable inventory management appear more often in government discussions. Continued reports from the Auditor General highlighting lapses in areas of asset management help to focus attention on this at a departmental level.

After 25 years of leadership in supplying asset management systems for the Canadian Federal Government, SageData is observing an increased depth of knowledge and understanding of the discipline. Rather than simply populating a large back-end financial database listing assets, value and (maybe) buyer and date of purchase, we always recommend an ongoing hands-on approach to asset tracking using standard operating procedures tailored to a particular group.

What does this mean? It means individually labeling items, assigning ownership, tracking location, noting warranty date, detailing repairs carried out, capturing moves or changes of ownership or disposals to crown assets, and so on. And tracking assets over their entire life-cycle.

Now, with high speed mobile computing and barcodes or RFID tags, ongoing audits of all an organization's assets is not only easy and fast, but it is highly accurate. Overall, it means taking responsibility - usually by having one person or asset management group in charge of tracking the status of all government-owned assets in a department or unit.

Without some deep thought, the public perception may be that one government department runs much like another - lots of people in cubicles with computers connected to IT equipment in server rooms somewhere. Tracking assets should be pretty much the same everywhere, no? Our experience across a multitude of federal operations tells us that there is a wide range of groups with diverse needs.

To be sure, there are a lot of computers and cell phones to be managed, but assets also cover "things" such as laboratory equipment and dangerous chemicals, historical artifacts (where do you stick barcodes on those!), life-safety equipment, guns, fire extinguishers, not to mention vehicles, aircraft, buildings - the list goes on.

And it is more than just tracking. One system we completed years ago still generates an up-to-date list of where dangerous "stuff" is. It sits in building lobbies, accessible to firefighters, should an emergency occur. Another, more recent system, tracks food ingredients through the entire preparation chain from delivery, through cooking, storage and to the table.

At a moment's notice, any item containing a contaminated ingredient can be pulled out - and thousands of possible illness incidents avoided. A third government installation uses RFID to track buckets of soil - not something many people would even consider assets - but they provide vital scientific information affecting the well-being of all Canadians, and have to be tracked uniquely.

SageData Solutions was founded in 1991. We are an Ottawa-based company focusing solely on systems covering Asset and Inventory Management, Maintenance and Inspections. These usually imply rugged mobile handheld computing and automatic information capture using barcodes, RFID, BLE or other sensors.

We hold a Software Licensing Service Agreement (SLSA) with the Canadian Federal Government. This means that we can simplify and speed up the procurement process, and get a system installed and working in a short time frame.

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