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General Chat Thread, Fingerprinting. Goodbye! in General; I think the trouble is people won't accept that some things will make like that little bit easier. It's less ...
  1. #46

    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    I think the trouble is people won't accept that some things will make like that little bit easier. It's less invasive than the planned and soon to be binned ID card system, less invasive than your own driving licence, less invasive than walking down the average high street, less invasive than driving - the list goes on and on. It's all my own opinion of course, and it's in my nature to be cynical about just about everything but this case sounds to me like a huge overreaction to nothing.

  2. #47

    broc's Avatar
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    We introduced a biometric (fingerprint) driven cashless catering system a couple of years ago, as previously mentioned it samples the fingerprint rather than storing a whole image. One major benefit for the children at my school was that it no longer stigmatised those entitled to free school meals, and as a consequence the take-up increased dramatically. Many parents & children were too proud to admit they were low-income and entitled to free school meals, the new system shields them from this now by automatically crediting the childs account. As a spin-off this benefits the school too, as the grants & funding take into account the number of students entitled to free school meals.

  3. #48

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Martin View Post
    Funny, when i was at school (albeit forty-odd years ago) there were never any problems working out which kids had school dinners. The bottleneck was serving the actual food - how long does it take for a teacher to ask "Sonny, what is your name", "Jenkins Sir", "Thank you Jenkins - on your way!"?

    Maybe one of the reasons was that every teacher knew pretty much every child in the school, and they didn't have to rely on bar codes and scanners and other technology to do their jobs.
    Yeah, when you have several hundred children who are on free school meals, and more which pay for their meals. How do you determine who is entitled to a meal? Our dinner staff are not up to the job of memorising the names of several hundred names... Things have changed in 40-odd-years, you have to accept that. Parents demand information from the school about what their kids have been spending their lunch money on...

    Why have cards either? How about giving a child some respect and individual identity - not just treating them as a number?
    Well, my guess would be due to the fact that schools have a huge amount of bureaucracy to deal with daily. Be it in libraries, canteens, or the school offices where kids are handing cheques and things in. ANY organisation would be looking at ways to become more efficient. The simple fact is, whether you think it is or not, we have always been 'numbers'. There's no efficient way to run a 20th (and now 21st) century country without reducing people to numbers.

    But "bullying" is a bigger problem than stopping someone pinching Johnny's dinner money - he can still get jumped on and have his sweets pinched, or his nice new pencil set broken or whatever. Finger-print scanners won't stop bullying!
    Ok, put it this way. When you park your car, do you leave your laptop in full view on the front seat? Do you leave your GPS stuck to the screen? No? Why not? I'm guessing it is because it provides a target for opportunistic criminals. Extend that same concept to bullies and lunch money. Remove the opportunity, and you reduce the crime.

    They have no choice but to do what they are told - the (state) machine says it, so you must do it. No room for negotiation, no room for discussion, no human interaction
    Having been dragged into the 'state' machine via an activist life back in uni, leading to lots of police contact and the like, I can safely say that it simply isn't true.

    I am very surprised that you haven't sussed this one out - you are normally pretty sharp on these kinds of things? Certain companies are going to make a very lot of money out of this - and we are talking tens if not hundreds of millions of pounds. And once they get state approval (from ministers who may end up in non-exec positions in said companies), making this money is like, er, taking candy from a baby
    In the scheme of things, the money involved in such systems is actually quite small. Also, the UK is a capitalist country, and as such encouraging business is one of the jobs of the government. If they do this via the public sector then that's fine with me. By getting companies making money, they pay more taxes, they hire more staff, they invest more in R&D. So, I don't see it as a huge issue.

    Take a look at VeriCool - it seems very, er, cool - but nowhere on the website does it mention that it is a subsidiary of General Dynamics - a US company who may not have to abide by the same data protection laws as we have in the UK! Even if they do, a fair chunk of the money spent buying their products will end up on the lefthand side of the Atlantic.
    Vericool is a UK company, therefore THEY have to follow UK DP laws, regardless of what company owns them. Also, money going out of the country isn't some sinister thing. We have UK company headquarters here, with subsidiaries all around the world who do the same thing. Irrelevant really.

    Ah, we are back to #4 here with "parental reporting on what children eat in schools" - more micro-management and snooping on the intricacies of our private lives by the (thankfully) outgoing administration. And all at a huge cost - not just the basic system, but all the bits around it (including IT support etc.).
    The reporting is for the parents, not for the government. We had parents asking what their child had been spending their dinner money on before the reporting stuff appeared. Since having a computerised cashless catering system installed, we have identified a few kids who try to use their lunch money to buy biscuits and the like during break instead of having a proper lunch. It has also allowed us to see a couple of children who simply weren't eating lunch due to various reasons.

    Out of interest, what system do you have installed and what are its costs (both capital and on-going)?
    A custom built system designed and written by myself.

    Some people must be walking around with their eyes shut (i suppose that it feels safer that way)?
    My eyes are open, I'm just not going to buy into scaremongering without proper evidence or overuse of slippery slope or straw-man arguments.

    For many years now we have been slowly conditioned to accept what we previously would have found totally unacceptable. Pubs are being "asked" to request ID from anyone who looks under 25 years old at the same time as (state) ID cards are being promoted as they easy way to prove your age. Our houses are being inspected by "the state" when we sell them to check how many CFLs we have fitted and how big our garden is. Our vehicle movements are being tracked continuously and the data held for years
    A 21st century society with 21st century crimes and problems obviously needs different rules and tools for policing than one set in the 70s. Sure, some of the laws enacted recently are ridiculous (rules restricting photography of police is a fine example, the digital Britain nonsense is another) but to constantly state that all this government tracking is bad is a little short sighted.

    Let us hope that the new ConLib agreement on Civil Liberties (see Now I'm happy..) will reverse some of these measures and at the same time simplify (and reduce the costs for) our lives!
    You really think the Conservatives will do anything but increase tracking? My guess is simply that they will reduce transparency...

  4. #49
    p858snake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    I was wondering that myself. Surely if the police were interested in the fingerprint of a child, they have an easier way of getting it? ie. arresting the kid and taking it that way?
    Quote Originally Posted by creese View Post
    If the police have a real suspect why bother waiting for the software to find that one child and give them a set of numbers, decode it, compare it, all hopefully not in school holidays....... Much quicker is grab him/her, march them to the nearest scanner and compare the prints to those found.

    Edit: the police, like everyone, have procedures. Any deviation from these takes time and resources. Stick with what they have.
    They would need to arrest the kid and have probably cause to take a fingerprint as per my understanding of UK law, and contact the legal guardians of the kid etc then deal with lawyers. Although I guess with those Anti-Terrorism laws..... they could do anything now....

    Quote Originally Posted by neilfisher View Post
    It's not like a high resolution photograph of your finger, and the way they store the data is not necessarily the same as what the police would use to store their fingerprints.
    Fingerprints are stored as a series of points (eight is the current standard iirc), the location of these points is choosen by the end program and not the scanner (this is how different scanners can be used by different applications - they basically send a picture of the whole finger). So if you know what points the application uses and storage method for working out what pattern is at each point, you could easily reverse map the finger print.

    Quote Originally Posted by creese View Post
    They would need a physical print anyway. Any good lawyer would run it out of court if it came from an 'unofficial' data holding company.
    Yes, a good lawyer, but what about families that only have court/police appointed lawyers that don't give about their job, Or if police tried to hide the source as a confidential informant?

    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Yes, it does. Otherwise, you end up with people who've lost/damaged their cards etc... Commenter obviously doesn't work anywhere near a school canteen.

    Easier than printing hundreds of cards. Easier than having a person a till manually find and enter names.

    No, not at all. Do you think the money taken in from a school canteen goes just towards books etc...? No, it goes towards tills, maintenance, and the like. Add in parental reporting on what children eat in schools and how else do you propose doing it? Cards? They cost MORE than fingerprinting.
    Depending on what type of cards you use, For example RFID would need minimal handing since it doesn't require that much handling (can be left in wallet/purse), Magnetic swipe cards (standard bank card type stuff) can normally last thousands of swipes before they start of have issues. Both of which can also handle going though the wash.

    Printing cards of either format doesn't take overall that long, Ours were printed at the same time our school photos were taken, they popped out also the moment after we approved our photo.

    As of your cost mention, Cards don't cost that much, Blank printed RFID cards cost $8 AUD (roughly 4 pounds) with magnetic swipe costing less than that.

    Quote Originally Posted by imiddleton25 View Post
    Our library system uses fingerprint scanner but converts using an algorithm to key points of each print and cannont be reconstructed into anything usable. So I see no problem at all in this type of system
    That would be near impossible, since the system needs to keep it in a "usable" format so when finger is scanned it can convert it and compare to the records which is based on a mathematical formula.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trapper View Post
    I did wonder about how they protected the data, and apparently the prints and the student details aren't "held" together, and if anyone got hold of the server/databases they would be unable to put the prints with a student. How this works, or even if it is safe I do not know
    What they mean with that is probably the catering table in the db probably has a random number for the student which is also stored in another table in the db which then can easily be linked together with a join statement so that billing and such can be preformed.

  5. #50

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by p858snake View Post
    Depending on what type of cards you use, For example RFID would need minimal handing since it doesn't require that much handling (can be left in wallet/purse), Magnetic swipe cards (standard bank card type stuff) can normally last thousands of swipes before they start of have issues. Both of which can also handle going though the wash.

    Printing cards of either format doesn't take overall that long, Ours were printed at the same time our school photos were taken, they popped out also the moment after we approved our photo.

    As of your cost mention, Cards don't cost that much, Blank printed RFID cards cost $8 AUD (roughly 4 pounds) with magnetic swipe costing less than that.
    The cards that we would use, as they'd also be able to integrate with our door control system cost around that, plus the cost of printing them. So you're talking a grand or more for a printer, then, say 50p per card in ink. We have 600 kids in school, so what you're saying is that spending 2700 on cards (plus losses, and considering the amount of keys the kids lose for lockers, I'd guess around a 5% loss rate), and then 675 a year on cards compared with no cost for the fingerprinting. Also, have you ever actually been around children and seen how generally destructive they are. The cards may well survive for normal people for a long time (my door entry card has lasted me 3 years so far), but when a child is bored in a lesson and decides to use it as a play toy, it really reduces the life of the card...

  6. #51
    p858snake's Avatar
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    I know what cards are like in the hands of students.... I was one (and mine met death by drill press). Cost of replacement cards could be charged to the student since they are already getting the first one for free. As for the cost of printer, there isn't a new one needed every year, so even though that is a overall cost you only pay for it once then depreciate the cost over several years till a new one is needed.

    And for those concerned about information privacy (eg: the "fingerprint") magswipe/rfid wouldn't need that information, just certain data about the user (eg: a id number).

  7. #52

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    Think I'll depart from this thread with a rant:

    Reflecting on all this, amongst other things I think there's probably a correlation with age and risk perception e.g. the first time I went to Berlin it was to visit a friend, who was a Russian defector's daughter and thus could ever only fly in/out if she didn't want to be (at best) "involuntarily repatriated", and people still got shot sometimes when trying to climb over that wall. So the wall came down and by-and-by with a massive amount of irony, countries like this one have managed to implement the kind of apparatus to make the GDR and ther ilk look like hopeless wanabees. We pretty much topped the state surveillance league last time they made one, second only to Russia, China and Malaysia. That is not something anyone in this country should be remotely content with. Assurances that there are checks and balances and we're all decent Brits who would never ever abuse this stuff are not enough - history has demonstrated over and over that pretty much anything that exists inevitably gets abused.

    So it's better to avoid this stuff in the first place wherever possible, but there some of you are justifying it with smokescreen threat-models and exaggerated claims of convenience. That so many schools are apparently so arrogant, or more likely so pig-ignorant, to march straight past the huge ethical difficulties and sensitivities here clutching light-weight fluff about the threats, and points and numbers which doubtless came straight off some vendor's glossy promotional leaflet, is appalling. With yet more massive irony, at the same time as you're blathering on about e-safety you're smugly conditioning our kids to surrender their privacy to technology for very trivial reasons => **FAIL**

    Right now if I were a fingerprinting school I'd consider doing some proper homework, because if this actually does hit the legislative list with any bite left it will then become much more 'topical' and I suspect you'll really going to need to know what you're talking about.
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 14th May 2010 at 08:54 PM.

  8. #53

    ZeroHour's Avatar
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    Having thought about this all I have to say ultimately I see it all as unnessary. I know there have been statements about speed benefits (at canteen) but tbh its certainly not an issue at my school and reaslistically it takes seconds to get through the till using cash or voucher. I dont see the extra expense (and lets face it there is going to be a lot of that) to try and cure a non issue. I think it may speed things up slightly but not enough to see a good ROI. This is all before you take in to account how easy it would be to theive if you had an honesty till to run things up, or would it be propesed you scan at each stage (aka getting main meal) which also would have great expense and delay for people to get scanned and moved on. I know in an ideal world the scanners will work perfectly... but lets face it they will get gunked up, kids will happen to affect one of those *magic* number areas with a deep cut etc which all slows it down to pointless and further reducing the ROI.
    Then where else could you use the print... computer logins (big expense/vandalism) door access (OMG networking/readers on each door !!) and libraries (still a cost for readers).
    I know its a pain reseting logins for pupils but come on, its not worth the cash for finger prints, no one could kid that ROI on to the SMT. Also it would be a stuggle to see any real benefits other then this tbh, you could say no shared accounts with that but thats pretty much it and its a weak benefit.
    Door access is simply too much pain/cost for readers everywhere, RFID is cheaper I believe here by a LONG way and thats why no one does prints yet, there is no ROI.
    Libraries have no real benefit for us with prints, its simply not an issue. We have a simple system where if the librarien does not know the pupil he says his name, a pic popups up, job done and our libraries soon pick up the names (1000 roll senior) or those that use the library regularily (which is where greatest speed can be gained) and for those they dont its simple.... and cheap.... and no issues with prints aggro.
    For us at least, most of the benefits I have seen listed simply are not issues that warrent the cost of doing this for so little and so much extra aggro. To those of you that have got around and even found a proper ROI (calcualtions/etc would be very good to see) good luck but imo prints are pointless and unneeded so the whole *should your school* debate is mute for us as we would need to have a point in the first place.

    One thing though, THERE IS NO ENCRYPTION THAT CANT BE BROKEN IN THEORY! The prints are not *secure/unreversable* by a long shot as I am sure some of you must know (esp if you actually do programming)
    Those number based ones sound tbh like a joke, feed it enough samples and I could get its algorithm.... We should all know better then this....
    Last edited by ZeroHour; 18th May 2010 at 05:10 PM.

  9. #54
    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    I've just found out that the new BSF build up the road has a completely card based system, but more interestingly, the cards will cost 15 to replace (to be funded by the parents!)

    I can't see that working for those on limited incomes!

  10. #55

    creese's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Ben View Post
    I've just found out that the new BSF build up the road has a completely card based system, but more interestingly, the cards will cost 15 to replace (to be funded by the parents!)

    I can't see that working for those on limited incomes!
    If my geographical guess is correct, there are I believe at least 3 schools in your area with card based systems.

  11. #56

    plexer's Avatar
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    Whilst this is an old thread it still contains relevant information and I also want to point out this Protection of Freedoms Act 2010-12 — UK Parliament which has recently gained royal assent and schools must obtain parental before obtaining biometric information.

    Ben

  12. #57

    plexer's Avatar
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    To add a bit more information to this whilst the bill has got royal assent it looks like it will be Sept 2013 before it becomes law with the DFE doing a consulation on its implementation in schools.

    Ben

  13. #58

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    Old thread is old... And full of crap, but nonetheless just to add my 3.5 pence...

    We got our biometrics last week, aside from my other thread regarding the costs of it I think it is a good system, and believe me, I'm not easily pleased. But let's look at the FACTS of the system..
    It stores data as a hash/checksum/whathaveyou, their site (biostore) describe it like putting an overlay over a map of London, putting a dot on the train stations then taking the original map away leaving you with a number of dots. You can't possibly recreate the map based purely on those dots, but obviously putting a map of London underneath and seeing the dots match up would confirm a match but putting Paris under there would give a mismatch.

    Based on that fact you can have all the fingerprints you want, I wouldn't even hesitate to zip them all up and email them to you (Other than the fact that the borough, government, papers, school etc... would need new pants due to their lack of understanding) The point is that the hashes are useless to you. The only way you can use them is to install the same system with the same readers with the same algorithms with the same salt (I am assuming a salt is used) and then scan the finger print of every student until you get a match (Oh, and scan every finger too) even if you were to achieve that the matching algorithms are too inaccurate to be used in a court of law, so what are you going to so? Set up your own cashless catering system, enrol all of our students against their wishes then force them to buy your overly prices bagels so you can take the money from their accounts? Lolz...

    It does speed things up, maybe not by loads and loads but it is noticeable.

    Our card printer takes about 45 seconds to print an individual card, given that in year 7 we have around 130-150 cards to print not to mention the new year 10s who get a new photo (another 130 odd) and the people who have lost cards (20-30) you are saving so many work hours... Oh and cards and ribbon cost a BOMB to buy.

    When a card is broken or lost a student has to pay 3.50 for a new one (except for FSM etc...)

    Cards can be stolen by other kids, or shared so that little timmy who is all of a sudden "very big" timmy can spend a fiver a day on sweets using his mates card without his parents knowing

    Expensive? Well yes. Especially in our case. But if you shop around and plan well I imagine it pays for itself over a few years anyway in the cost of cards and ribbon for a card printer.

  14. #59

    plexer's Avatar
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    Does the software pop up a picture of the pupil on the till?

    Ben

  15. #60

    john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by plexer View Post
    Does the software pop up a picture of the pupil on the till?

    Ben
    Yup it does on our Cashless System, so I put my first finger on and it brings up my hideous photo of me which is what is in Serco, Eclipse.Net and other programs that have photo integration It also does the photos for those on PIN Numbers or manual lookups so you can verify that the student is who they say they are.

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