Biometric technology is changing the way how identification system works for people. Biometry has proved traditional methods of identification like documents and ID cards insignificant. This technology gives meaning to what we own naturally. With the supremacy of biometrics, our physiological and behavioral characteristics become our identity. Once recorded with biometrics, identity is established for lifetime. Biometric technology has helped considerably reduce the time taken in the verification of a person’s identity in traditional identification system. It has already eliminated significant portion of paperwork, formalities and procedures associated with traditional identity and authentication system. This collectively reduces a lot of time wasted waiting and faster processing of formalities makes people happy.
Nothing can be better than certain biological or behavioral characteristics of people serve as their identity. Biometrics eliminates any possibility of forgetting identification documents at home. All identification nightmares like denied boarding in a flight or no entry without ID, becomes a thing of past when biometrics become the identity. Biometric solutions are saving time with faster processing of identification at various fronts.
Businesses and enterprises are leveraging the efficiency of biometrics not only for identification of their employees, but also for security, access control, personal device management and time tracking. This results in better productivity, satisfied clients and elevated profits figures. Among all biometric solutions, fingerprint recognition is the easiest to implement and the most cost effective employ. It can be a good starting point towards implementation of biometric identification system.
Biometrics based identification is a widely accepted identification method, from government departments to business enterprises, military to sensitive facilities, are looking at biometric identification as a securer, faster and more efficient way of identification and security implementation. Education industry is not an exception when it comes to implementing biometric solutions. Many schools have already adopted biometrics for various purposes including attendance systems, serving meals in cafeteria, assess control and security.
Most challenges in a school are related to identification
Identification of students is one of the important functions in a school, and may other functions like attendance, access, meals, transportation, distribution, etc. are more of less dependent on accurate identification of students. There are various programs and activities that run simultaneously in a school. Keeping records of students’ participation in various programs and activities is an important but exerting task. Precise and auditable student records are also required for government to pass funds for various welfare programs running in schools. Security has also become imperative in school operations as changing times are posing new threats to school security. There have been many instances when school security was compromised and even costed lives of innocents.
How biometric recognition methods work?
Earlier biometric implementation were considered only by high security facilities like military area, nuclear power plants, R&D facilities, data centers, etc. Now with technology advancing at a rapid pace and the reduced implementation costs, even small business are leveraging biometrics for security, access control and to automate whole identification process. Automation of identification process with the help of biometrics not only makes a facility securer but also expedites operations and reduces paperwork.
Biometry is application of statistical analysis to biological data. It involves innovating methods which could be used to identify unique pattern in biological characteristics of a person. Biometric identification is one of the applications of biometry. Many characteristics of a person can be used for identification, for example: iris patterns, retina patterns, fingerprints, DNA, typing rhythm, voice, gait, etc. These unique traits, once associated with a person’s identification details, can replace the need of other identification methods such as photo ID cards, visual identification, PINs, etc. Feasibility of implementation is also taken into account when choosing a biometric method for an application, for example: DNA recognition will be an inappropriate choice for door access.
Patterns, which could be taken up for biometric recognition, can be categorized into physiological and behavioral. Fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, hand geometry recognition, iris scan and retina scan fall in physiological biometrics, on the other hand, voice recognition, handwriting recognition, and keystroke pattern recognition come under behavioral biometrics of a person.
All biometric methods, including physiological and behavioral, work by identifying set of patterns. First, these patterns of a person are scanned and stored in a pre-defined format. Once recorded, this pattern data can be linked with identification data of that person. For example: In a fingerprint recognition system, scanner scans ridges and valleys on a fingertip surface and identifies unique points. This data is taken through fingerprint recognition algorithm and unique pattern data is generated. This pattern data is linked with identity details of the person and biometric identification data is established. When this person requires identification in future, the finger is scanned again and biometric system compares the new scan pattern data against what is already established. If new scan matches with the existing, the person gets identified. The whole process takes less than a second in an ideal case.
How biometric technology can help streamline school operations?
Biometric technology can save school administrators from a lot of manual efforts and paperwork. Synchronization of various activities and punctuality is a critical aspect for any school to maintain orderliness. Implementing biometrics at various fronts of schools can reduce time taken in various processes including student registration, attendance, reporting, equipment allotment, library, invoicing, etc. Biometrics, when implemented in a school, dramatically improves daily functioning, and there would be instances that will make you wonder, “Why didn’t we have it earlier?”
There are many fronts where biometrics can help with efficient management and expedited operations, so that school administrators can look into other important things rather than repetitive daily operational. Biometric technology can assist all the operations where identification, access control and authentication are a requirement. Following are the areas where biometrics can streamline operations:
a) Student registration
At the time of admission, a student’s biometrics can be recorded in the school management software and student identity gets established as long as the student stays in the school. Students require access to many places to avail facilities, for example: cafeteria, library, labs, etc. In certain areas, only specific students can have access, for example: subject specific labs, theater, etc. One time registration of a student’s biometrics makes it possible to enable and disable access to all or specific places. This can be achieved in a few clicks if school has implemented biometric access control to all those areas. Centralized approach of biometric solutions comes handy while granting or denying access to specific areas / facilities.
With biometrics, there’s no need to put efforts in daily attendance. Biometric enabled attendance system can entirely replace manual attendance system with all paperwork and calculation efforts associated with it. Biometric recognition methods like fingerprint, iris or retina recognition can be employed to automate the attendance system, however, fingerprint recognition is best suited for the purpose being the most cost effective and easy to implement. Once a student is in school, he will scan his / her biometric and time stamped attendance is done. A student’s late arrivals, early departures, absences can be easily tracked and reported with the help of biometric enabled attendance system.
Implementing biometric attendance system also helps with federal and state government audits by maintaining biometric backed authentic student attendance records. Since attendance records can affect federal and state government funding for several welfare programs, it becomes imperative to keep accurate auditable attendance records and with biometric this critical aspect can be achieved easily.
Biometric based implementation of school management software can not only help with student attendance, but also automatically creates academic schedules for students and groups including schedules for extracurricular activities, equipment assignments, exams and any prerequisites.
i) Activity reporting
Biometrics can help with tracking and reporting of students’ participation in various extracurricular activities. How many extracurricular activities students have participated to, and how many of them are showing up can be easily tracked and reported with students’ biometrics. There are numerous activities students can participate to and keeping track of all activities and student participation can become hassle on a manual system. Biometric solutions work like a charm with activity and participation reporting and student-wise or activity-wise reports can be generated on demand.
ii) Equipment allotment
Keeping records of school owned equipment allotment to students can be easily achieved by implementing a biometric based school management solution. When a student needs or allotted a school owned equipment, his or her biometrics are scanned and software automatically makes an entry with the time and date of the allotment. Unlike the possibility of manual records being lost of manipulated, biometric based equipment allotment keep reliable records with student’s biometric proof of allotment.
Biometric powered examinations can track and report attendances and absences without putting any manual efforts of checking student IDs or counting heads. Students can be asked to scan their biometrics before entry and attendance is marked instantly and effortlessly.
iv) Discipline prerequisites
Biometric system can play a vital role in maintaining discipline in a school. Any prerequisites, if applicable on a student, can be set with biometrics. For example, detained students’ biometrics will not let them be where they should not be at the time of detention. Same way, in-school or out-of-school suspended students can also be marked in the biometric system and it will not allow them to all or specific facilities.
Accurate and reliable records of meals served in the cafeteria is an absolute necessity for the schools participating in National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program in the United States. Government is collectively spending billions of dollars on meal programs but funds are only released with government officials have accurate and auditable records of meals served. This level of accuracy and reliability can be achieved with implementation of biometrics. Students served under NSLP or SBP get their biometrics scanned and records are maintained right when the meal is served. It not only helps with government funding of meal programs but also results in expedited food serving, shorter queues and lesser wait time. Students don’t need to carry cash to pay for a meal or don’t have to be without food if they forget to bring money.
In a manual system, students who are served under subsidized meal plans are required to sign to get meal and it makes them feel different in front of other students. With biometric identification process, payment process is not visible and it works like an equalizer among students being served, be it fully paid or subsidized meal. More and more schools are implementing biometric solution for school cafeteria to expedite whole process and shrink queues. Fingerprint POS implementation is best suited for introducing biometric authentication to a school cafeteria. It is not only cost effective but also easy to implement and maintain. Students just need to put their finger on the scanner and meal transaction if recorded. Other methods like iris scan, retina scan and palm vein recognition can also be adopted depending on the feasibility.
Efficient functioning of a library is a mandate for any school to keep up with schedules. School libraries have numerous books and records and some of them can be very precious. Library cards, like other card based systems, have limitations. Cards can be lost, manipulated, and shared. Students also tend to share library cards when they have overdue material with them. This tendency can be addressed with biometrics. Books allotted with student biometrics keep irrefutable records or allotted school owned books.
f) Role based security
Schools can have a lot of personal and other important data of students, employees, activities and finance. Data can be confidential in nature and controlled access to it becomes a mandate to ensure data security. Employees or staff members should have limited access to this data and rights to add, edit or delete information should only be with authorized people. Only limited people or group of people should be able to access this data. Biometrics based school management solution makes sure that school employees are assigned role based security and their access to school and student data can be defined. Biometrics of employees can be collected for the purpose and their level of access can be defined.
Accounts department of a school can also make use of biometric technology. Students’ account records can be linked with their biometric data and invoices for dues can be generated just with their biometric scan.
Printing some of the documents like exam question papers, result sheets and other school documents will require high level of confidentiality and accountability. Implementation of biometric will make sure only eligible people and devices can print the confidential documents. Defining access control with biometric can help prevent any kind of security breach.
Schools these days are taking up technology implementation seriously, let it be information technology based learning solutions or real-time transport tracking though GPS. They are also implementing solutions which make school operations more efficient. Tablets, laptops, smart-boards, surveillance system or internet based real-time audio video implementations are now commonly seen in schools. A right step towards biometrics can fill the gaps between these technological implementations.
School-wide implementation of biometrics can make a huge difference not only in daily operations, but also in other crucially important aspects like accountability, security and authentication. Biometric can also be used for staff time and attendance; it not only stops “buddy-punching” but also brings transparency in the employee pay-outs. Area where confidential documents are kept can be secured with biometric access control. Installing biometric access control on main door will prevent any security threats to enter the school premises. Biometrics also makes school transportation securer for students and convenient for drivers. Younger students often face difficulties in getting on right bus and getting down at correct stop. New drivers can also fail at visual identification and remembering details. Biometrics can store all these details and make school transport secure and efficient.