We all know that a school should be responsible for its students during school hours. But besides the standard hall monitor, can schools take a more high tech approach when it comes to student safety? What about tracking their whereabouts using RFID? This is the idea that SecureRF Corporation is hoping to test with New Canaan, CT, public school students.
SecureRF Corporation, a Westport, CT company that examines ways to use and market radio frequency identification tags (RFID), is planning to use a $100,000 National Science Foundation grant to test RFID trackers on students, valuable items like laptops or other school assets, and potentially staff. RFID technology uses radio-frequency waves to keep inventory of people or things. For example, if a laptop has an RFID tag on it, you can quickly scan a room and see if that laptop is in the place it should be. Primarily used by companies with a large amount of inventory or assets, RFID allows them to quickly scan an entire room to figure out what’s there and what’s missing.
For this particular school-based project, SecureRF wants to implement RFID chips in a student’s ID card or on school items such as laptops. This would allow school administrators to take a quick count of who is in class and who’s not, who walked out the front door, or who walked into the library.
“I can perceive parents would have an issue with tracking kids through the school and through town… There’s a big difference between putting this on the school bus or putting it on backpacks or an ID card,” school board member Jim Kucharczyk said.
Currently, this experimental program is limited to both volunteer students and parents that are comfortable with the idea of tracking.
Program advocates argue that this would greatly enhance school security and student safety. The idea is that with this type of technology, there would be less of a concern over whether students are safely on school grounds during the day. Administrators can do a quick scan of a classroom and see who is or isn’t there, or who walked out the front door. A program like this would also help improve efficiency, evacuation during an emergency, and keep track of school assets like laptops and other high priced items.
The problem lies with older high school kids who may be coming and going from campus during free periods or lunch, and how administrators can truly track them short of injecting the RFID chip in their skin. If the chip is in an ID card or backpack, high school students could easily ditch these items, rendering the system somewhat ineffective for tracking off campus. It seems like this program is primarily targeting younger children and assets.
Board member Amy Rochlin said “From what I am hearing I am interested in exploring it more,” she said, “…but as a board we need to know what they are signing off on.” As of now the program is still in its testing phase and is meeting mixed thoughts on how effective it will be.
(Via Acorn Online)