The Conference and Exhibition "On RFID: The Next Step to the Internet of Things" held in Lisbon on 15-16 November 2007, closed with a wide consensus on the need for Europe to analyse, assess and develop common strategies for optimising the shift of RFID technology into an 'Internet of Things', whilst safeguarding sensitive information and protecting the privacy of individuals.

Organised within the framework of the Portuguese Presidency of the European Union, this conference succeeded in gathering at Lagoas Park, in the area of Oeiras, over 500 experts and around 30 enterprises which presented innovative RFID applications. The RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies provide more efficient monitoring of objects. Through tags, relevant information is transmitted without visual or physical contact, allowing, by these means, the identification of the given object. RFID is a mature set of technologies in widespread usage, with progressive application in various economical and societal domains.

On opening the conference, Mr Manuel Heitor, Portuguese Secretary of State of Science, Technology and Higher Education, said that “we are now facing a real European challenge, whose solution can only be found in individuals, knowledge and ideas”. He, therefore, stated that “it is necessary to prepare Portugal and the European Union to stand in the front line of research, development and of the diffusion of new technologies”, adding that “this brings forth a set of new challenges that require an European dimension in order to be tackled”. He stressed the need to focus R&D efforts on core issues such as cost reduction and the size of the tags, as well as on opportunities associated with the development of nanotechnologies. He also underlined the importance of the previous initiatives held by the former German Presidency of the European Union and of the role the European Commission has assumed in order to stand security and privacy for its citizens.

Mrs Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for the Information Society and Media remarked that thanks to the RFID technology we were witnessing a sort of quantum leap in the delivery of innovative services, bringing structural changes to many industries and markets. She continued saying that "this leap forward heralds a new phase of the Information Society – the 'Internet of Things' in which the Web will not only link computers but potentially every object created by mankind." Mrs Reding announced that the Commission will release in spring 2008 a Recommendation on the implementation of privacy and information security principles in RFID-enabled applications.

The conference programme opened with a first day devoted to expert debates on security and privacy, the market drive, and technology innovation, and went on in day 2 with high-level policy discussions on the issues surrounding the topic of the governance of RFID resources and the presentation of promising RFID application in areas as important for Europe as forest preservation, city pollution reduction, cancer fight or the improvement of car recycling.

In the closing session, Braz Costa, board member of IAPMEI (the Portuguese Institute for the Support of SMEs), on behalf of the Minister of Economy and Innovation, stressed how important it is for the competitiveness of European companies to be able to transform available technologies into innovative products. RFID, he added, is “an opportunity of which both the Portuguese and the European companies ought to benefit”. He, therefore, stressed the success of the conference, pointing out the number of participants and the high quality of the cases presented and of the applications exhibited.

Carlos Zorrinho, the Portuguese National Coordinator of the Lisbon Strategy and the Technological Plan, argued that “we are currently experiencing a turning point which arises from technological evolution and globalization”. He stated that “the impact of RFID technologies is broader than logistics or distribution applications”, adding that, “it may contribute to the success of a more innovative Europe, capable of making good use of the opportunities offered by globalization and helping, therefore, to achieve the aims set by the Lisbon Strategy”. He concluded that “the challenge we now face is to be able to attain “Innovation 2.0”, which means, to be able to innovate in the way we are innovating, turning creativity into value”.

This European Conference was organized within the frame of the Portuguese Technological Plan by the Knowledge Society Agency (UMIC), the Institute for the Support of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (IAPMEI) and Link Consulting. Sponsors for the Conference and Exhibition included Public Sponsors (ANACOM, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT), Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade do Minho), Gold Sponsors (ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal, Intel, METRO Group, SAP, SAS), and Silver Sponsors (AIM-D, Brooks Automation, Cisco, CTT, Deister Electronic, Iberlog, Feig Electronic, GS1 in Europe, GS1 Portugal – Codipor, Microsoft, Modelo Continente, OTLIS, Sybase, and Vodafone Portugal).

The sessions and presentations have been recorded on video and are available on the website of the event