What is biometric technology?
Biometric technology describes the range of technologies used to measure, analyse and record one or more of a person's unique characteristics, such as fingerprints, iris patterns or voice. This technology is generally used to support business processes that require confirmation of identity.
How can this technology be used in schools and what are the potential benefits?
There are several ways that schools can use biometric technology. The most obvious of these are for cashless catering, registration and library borrowing. There are advantages in using a fingerprint system for these functions.
A cashless catering system: Parents can pay in advance for school meals, and the money for each lunch is deducted from the credit. The advantages here are that children will not have to carry cash or cards that can be lost or stolen and children in receipt of free school meals are not identifiable, thus avoiding stigmatisation.
Attendance: Registration time can be saved and used more productively. Pupils actually have to be present in order to register − there is no way of one pupil registering another.
School library: Pupils will have to be present in order to borrow books from the school library, preventing pupils from taking out a book under another child's name.
Fingerprints, unlike a card or money, cannot be lost or forgotten on the way to school!
We already hold data related to staff and pupils, how is this any different?
Schools already hold the names, addresses and often medical information of their pupils. Therefore, schools are familiar with complying with data protection and confidentiality laws. However, biometric data is by its nature quite different, it is a far more personal form of information. The use of biometric data is relatively new, so many people are understandably wary of this relatively untested technology. Someone's fingerprint is for life and there have already been concerns raised about the...
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