With the advent of digitalization in the field of education, the education scenario has witnessed some major altering changes. One of the many is RFID. Radio Frequency ID as they call it, are wearable ID cards with a small tracking device. This I-card embedded with an embedded RFID chip has become a new norm to track the attendance of students. These cards have not only improved attendance percentage but also made parents breathe a sigh of relief. This is also a testament to the idea of futuristic schools. Smart classes are no longer a distant dream as many schools in India are implementing these cards.
Why smart ID’s?
Days when the teacher used to call our names out and we loudly yelled: “present ma’am” are behind us. Smart ID’s are widely used for attendance purposes. Given the surveillance obsession of parents and concerns about safety, these are a massive hit in about 50 schools across the nation. Tracking students within the campus is made easy and the parents receive an SMS to the registered mobile number once their child reaches the school. Parrot Innovations are one such company that designs software of these smart cards in India. Kanav Agnihotri, the co-founder said, “Once the student enters the campus, the parent automatically receives the message”. He also mentioned the various uses of these cards. While attendance is a major benefit, they are also used for various staff and clerical purposes like library management, canteen, fee payment, scheduling a class etc. Having a strategic team, parrot innovations check on these systems once in 3 months to test these cards on the campus and make sure they are working right.
The smart part
With increasing safety concerns across different cities in India, no wonder the safety of their child is paramount. The need of the hour is ensuring the bright young minds of the country, learn in a safe and trusted environment. Upon boarding the bus, the GPS card inside the device detects time and location. The GPRS card sends this information to the server which then generates an alert message for the parent through an app. It boosts the number of productive hours because attendance is completely automated. The use of traditional attendance system with pen and paper is totally avoided thus reducing human error to the maximum. All the attendance related data is readily available and can be accessed by establishing a connection with the cloud. There is no place for favouritism because manual marking is ruled out. With increasing awareness for a green and eco-friendly environment, smart ID’s check this box too because of absolutely no use of paper. While these cards were made for on-campus needs only, many companies still cater to off-campus tracking devices too. Parrot innovations as an organization do not believe in this approach. “It hibernates like a laptop when it is not in range of the reader” Kanav added while ensuring its one of the best technologies in the world, also the safest.
The not so smart part
Every technological advancement has never come without its own upsides and downsides. Let’s look at some of the cons of this innovation. In India, RFID’s are still a very new and recent phenomenon.
In 2005, a similar plan received major backlash in an elementary school in California. The parents felt their children would become mere lab rats or guinea pigs if their movements were tracked. While the faculty believe it eases off a load of their chest, the parents are happy about knowing the whereabouts of their children all the time. With the big wave of “datafication” already upon us, this just adds up to the dangers that could trigger by letting companies access all the data.
These children (future customers) could be a victim of lucrative data processing. With these surveillance practices being really popular, psychologists suggest that it will normalise the idea of being watched and controlled by a higher authority and creates an environment where they are uncomfortable to question these practices. It can also lead these children to a point where they think privacy is just an outworn concept.
There is also an additional risk of these companies tracking more than they have to and violating all data laws. These tracking devices, when fallen into the wrong hands, can prove to be fatal welcoming paedophiles and people with similar interests. The data can be mishandled and there have been instances where the data is sold off to China and other countries. Another much evident and obvious disadvantage is the health issues that come with it. We as people are always surrounded by radio waves be it phones, laptops and now there is a new member.
Overcoming these challenges.
Every child these days has easy access to phones, laptop and radio wave emitting devices on the daily. With these ID’s contributing to it, we need to step up and make some changes in the design and manufacture of these. There are two types of RFID’s, active and passive. While active cards are battery activated, the latter uses the reader’s radiations to keep track of their location. Low-frequency active cards can be used since it covers a wider range and is also by far the safest technique to ensure student safety. This way, we can protect the nation’s greatest assets – kids.
To conclude, smart ID’s are the tech of the next generation but like everything else, they come with a small price to pay. With the right data protection and cards being used only on campus, this might be one of the most useful innovations of our time.