The use of biometric information for processes such as registration, library admin, and cashless catering has become a mainstay in many schools for some time now.
One of its main attractions is the straightforward way in which they work. The fingerprint scanner captures the data of the individual finger. The software determines whether the pattern in the image matches that of a pre-scanned template.
With the rise of biometric identification in smartphones and its use in online transactions such as banking, people are now very familiar with using these types of systems.
This should, then, make them ideal for cashless catering systems in schools. After all, with any cashless catering, pupil verification is central to how the system works. What could be simpler than a biometric means of individual identification?
And, as fingerprint scanning gives way to contactless facial recognition, the biometric principle remains as a core mechanism for pupil verification in cashless catering.
However, biometrics aren't the only technology advancing in this field, with the use of cloud-based apps to deliver cashless payment systems on the rise.
The intersection with cloud-based management and administration with biometric identification raises security concerns.
The government guidance for how schools use biometric information is clear. The essence of this is that schools must destroy data when pupils leave school and not share biometric information.
There have long been fears that the use of biometrics in schools is normalising surveillance, and while schools may follow privacy procedures strictly, there is also the potential risk of someone gaining unauthorised access to this data.
The issue here is identity management and security. If a hacker breaches the cloud-based databases that hold pupils’ biometric information, they could potentially steal it. It’s already been identified as a growing issue.
Biometrics reveal part of a user’s identity. Stealing them could allow someone to falsify documents. The damage can be far more extensive than with card theft. You can’t simply replace physical identifiers once they’re stolen. Fingerprints are a permanent form of identification. If someone has copied your fingerprint or the iris of your eye, you cannot apply for a new one.
Schools using biometric systems may find themselves fielding more and more questions and concerns from parents about the ethics of using biometric data in this way.
In fact, some may be unhappy with the basic principle of taking a child’s fingerprint in this way.
And should the school make changes to how it operates these systems, say moving from fingerprints to facial recognition, without notifying parents, this is likely to cause breaches in trust. The same goes for the increasing move to cloud-based systems by schools; many parents are not comfortable with the idea that their child’s information is held on a database away from the school premises. Neither of these points solves the underlying issue; the system still relies upon sensitive, biometric data.
Cashless catering requires more than technology to run effectively. It also needs the goodwill of parents. Without this, the risk for schools is that they lose the trust of parents and the whole process of managing school meals becomes more fraught and costly.
The Quick Response (QR) code is not a new thing. It was invented in Japan in 1994.
As more brands and companies moved more activities online, QR codes attracted an initial burst of interest before soon becoming yesterday’s news. Somehow, in those early days, they didn’t quite capture the public information.
But now there’s been a huge resurgence in the use of QR codes. As internet use has gone mobile, the QR code has come into its own. Smartphones have become the vehicle for scanning and interacting with QR codes.
And during the pandemic, they gained greater prominence as vital ways for people to engage with services and gain crucial information, quickly and safely.
Today, there are predictions that QR codes could become a mainstream payment method for customers across a broad range of industries.
Companies are looking for ways to streamline payments as part of the customer journey and one method is through open banking payments using QR codes.
QR codes are flexible, adaptable and versatile. And they offer schools an excellent alternative to biometric payment systems.
Because the QR code works like a barcode, it provides an instant response. But while the barcode only carries payment information, the QR code can carry a lot more besides. And it transmits this data rapidly, in a couple of seconds.
The way in which the QR code stores information means that one code can work for multiple transactions. They don’t require perfect alignment with a camera to be easily read and you can apply them as stickers to different items. This is ideal for pupils when they need a quick form of verification. It also supports safe distancing measures to help prevent the spread of Covid.
Till is Pebble’s catering processing and payments platform. It enables schools to automate and centralise the management of their catering while eliminating transaction-logging.
It saves schools time, reduces error and, through QR codes, makes it easy for eligible pupils to access school meals, and for schools to record and monitor these transactions.
Don’t let the familiarity of QR codes fool you; they offer huge potential to make the management of school catering better, easier and more efficient.
For more information, please talk to the Pebble team today.
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