26 Sep Biometrics Offer Schools a Secure Future
The seemingly endless procession of appalling gun massacres at US schools and colleges has highlighted the necessity for secure educational environments on both sides of the Atlantic, but in the UK the growth of biometric identification systems has proven popular and effective in providing reassurance and comfort to the education sector.
Ofsted guidelines clearly state that all schools should provide a safer environment as best practice including securing the perimeter of the school to prevent unauthorised access. Furthermore, Ofsted inspectors require documentary evidence of attendance and punctuality as part of their inspections whilst their 2015 ‘Safeguarding in Schools: Best Practice Report’ also highlighted the importance of monitoring visitors and volunteers as part of their overall security system.
Whilst various access control systems exist, the biometric solution provided by advance fingerprint readers is proving increasingly popular with some 40% of schools in 2014 using biometric technology, not only for access control but also for a range of day-to-day tasks including registration, library borrowing and catering arrangements. Fingerprint scanners at meal times are more efficient, and discrete when it comes to eligibility for free meals than card systems whilst also replacing the danger of stolen or borrowed cards for site access. Moreover, they provide school staff with real-time data, controlling access to certain areas and removing continuous costs of replacement cards.
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders – which represents secondary school heads, commented, “It is significantly easier for schools to use this system in a number of ways – for example for taking things out of libraries and at meal-times. Most kids don’t lose their fingers whereas losing cards is far more likely. This cuts down on the need for youngsters to carry cards. Children can also have their cards stolen or be bullied for them.”
One of the leading manufacturers of advanced biometric fingerprint readers is Newcastle-based ievo Ltd who are seeing an increasing demand from not only schools but also from nursery and further education establishments with the new tranche of University Halls of Residence, in particular, installing their products to create a smart campus.
Richard Forsyth, UK & Ireland Sales Manager for ievo commented, “Student safety is the major concern for all educational establishment – it’s all about knowing who is on site when they arrived, left and where they went. Biometric systems provide this data to be accessed via an access control system in real time and can increase efficiency by enabling cashless payment systems for lunch or just simply reducing long-term costs by removing the need for the endless purchasing of access cards. As nurseries, schools, colleges and universities look to future-proof their security systems, we have seen a major rise of interest in our products due to their reliability, quality and adaptability.”
North Wales High School, Emrys ap Iwan, is a typical example of an ievo biometric scanners installation. A dated, problematic card reader system was replaced with a system of ievo ultimate™ scanners in order to safeguard 250 Sixth Form students and 100 members of staff across two buildings. ievo Ltd.’s flexibility and easy software integration allowed Emrys ap Iwan school’s management to monitor access information across two sites, control access entry times dependant on classes and restrict access to certain site areas for different year groups. A further consideration was the danger of vandalism with the robust readers proving resistant to even the most determined attacks.
An earlier installation at Manchester’s Kids Allowed daycare centres highlighted the advantages of the ievo readers over alternative products that they replaced. Paula Sharp, Project Manager, Kids Allowed, explained, “We were amazed at how it worked even with levels of moisturizing cream and cosmetics on our hands. This was a major advantage to us because we work with so many different materials throughout the day and to finally be able to use them and not worry about our access control system is great! Since installing them, everything has worked beautifully and we can now relax in the knowledge that access is strictly monitored.”