Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Smart ID Badges To Be Rolled Out to Massachusetts Police Departments

Police officers across the state of Massachusetts will likely be getting standardized police badges this year.  A bill has been proposed to supply police departments with high-tech badging identification to reduce the occurrence of police officer impersonations. At the end of 2010, the bill was passed by the Senate, and would make Massachusetts the first state nationwide to adopt such a practice.

It’s unusual that there hasn’t been movement toward this initiative prior to now.  It seems like a no-brainer to want to easily identify police officers from those posing as one.  If this standardization was around when I was a teenage driver, I doubt my parents would have felt the need to tell me over and over again to “never open the window” to a police officer in an unmarked car, if by chance they would pull me over. Instead, I was instructed to say through the glass, “I’ll follow you to the nearest police station.”

Luckily I never had to resort to that unorthodox approach, as I was a stellar teenage driver.  Yet the upcoming generations could surely get some mileage out of this new system.  And that’s just one example in a myriad of uses of how standardized ID badges would improve civilian relations and strengthen cooperation.

Much like the Massachusetts-issued driver license, all police ID badges will be uniform, stating who may carry them, how long they are valid, when the must be renewed, and what to do with them when they are no longer required (i.e. retirement, expiration). 

The new statewide badges (that will be used at the state and local levels, as well as for the Transportation Police) will certainly make it easier for us to know who we are dealing with.  However, there needs to be sufficient communication to the public about this new program, so that we know what to be looking for.  It’s all well and good for the new cards to be issued, but how is the public to know what the card should in fact look like?

We can only assume that because the state has been so forward-thinking and first-to-market in this program in the first place, Massachusetts will continue along these lines and make sure everyone is in the know about this extremely valuable initiative.


Hunter Systems Group provides public safety and security tools for police departments, governmental agencies, educational institutions and companies worldwide.  Our products include smart ID badging cameras, mug shot capture systems, fingerprint and facial recognition, and other biometric applications.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fingerprinting Systems for School Lunches Makes Some Queasy

The Ohio County Board of Education just approved a pilot fingerprinting system for use in an elementary school for cafeteria efficiency.  They say the fingerprinting system will allow for a faster, more accurate way of tracking school lunch accounts. With a quick scan of a student's finger, the system accesses that student's account and deducts the lunch fee all in less than a second.
One has to wonder, is this a necessary way to combat the sharing/borrowing/stealing of students' lunch money?  The Board of Education says the fingerprint records will be stored with the same level of security of all other school records, and that they will be destroyed after graduation.  But, again, is this the best use for what seems to be a surplus of available finances?  And what happened to getting to know each student and being able to personally identify them, rather than relying on a fingerprint scanner to distinguish identification. 
Read the entire article here and let us know what you think about this issue below, by leaving a comment.  Do the privacy concerns have you objecting to this proposal, too? Or the dehumanizing of our students? Or maybe the cost concerns of this undertaking, which are slated to spread to other school functions and throughout high schools in the area as well? Or do you feel it is just a natural application of a growing-in-popularity technology? We'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fingerprint Systems Meet Scrutiny in UK Schools

Fingerprint systems for school children? Have we gone a little too Big-Brother? That's what people are asking in the UK, where biometric identification of school children is on the rise.  Already more than a quarter of Scotland students are being identified this way - having to use thumbprints to access restrooms, acquire library books, obtain lunch and even check in their attendance throughout the day.  And even more schools have the capability and are yet to start using it.
The use of tracking mechanisms is poised to become mainstream within the British education system -- that is, as long as the critics don't get their way.  And there are plenty.  Parents and legislators alike are arguing that this unnecessary breach of minors' privacies is not only dehumanizing, but is also in violation of EU laws.

Salford University Researcher Dr Emmeline Taylor found that in 2010, 3,500 schools in the UK — one in seven — are using fingerprint technology.  It is evidently gaining acceptance even though the dissenters are expressly against the practice.


It is not so offensive as the RFID chips that are being used in school children’s ID cards in Texas and California (people have likened this to the tracking of cattle or warehouse inventory).  Yet still, there seems to be no logical reason why children as young as 4 need to be exposed to thinking that the government will be tracking their every move throughout their lives.


Many feel that just because the technology and efficiencies exist, there is no reason to replace human involvement and physical monitoring (not to mention ‘teaching’) of our children with them.  Are the schools so surplused with budget money that this was the expenditure of choice? I am sure we could all think of a few other, more education-centric ways to spend this.


What do you think? Leave us a comment below  telling us how you feel about the biometric tracking of school children.