School dinners on the biometrics menu

3rd August 2007 at 01:00
Biometric technology in schools is finally being taken seriously by the Government (TES, July 27). Advice issued this week includes sensible recommendations, including full consultation with parents. But schools wishing to automate catering, registration or library systems must be made aware of some significant issues.

Canteens pose particular problems with their high number of food-encrusted fingers, but advances in subcutaneous scanners, which examine the tissue directly beneath the cutis, seem to be the answer. Adopting this technology can help schools reduce bullying for tuck money and prevent pupils on free meals from being stigmatised.

Schools must also be reminded that until children are about 14, their fingers will grow so fast that it's unlikely their fingerprint signature will be the same 12 months later, so schools in the United States have introduced an annual biometric re-enrolment of pupils. This "data-cleansing" should be adopted for all UK schools to reduce failure rates and allay security fears.

Stuart Thorn

Chief Executive,

Electrone Europe

(supplier of data entry devices to US high schools),

Crowthorne,

Berkshire

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