ASSET TRACKING IN EDUCATION CONTEXT
One of the areas in which RFID tracking solutions have the potential to make the most waves is in education. Whether it’s tracking students to ensure they use the school transport system safely to tracking the books they are issued with, there are many potential uses for and benefits of RFID in this sector.
It isn’t just confined to the schools context either – RFID tracking can also be used at university level, tracking students as they attend lectures, as well as monitor essay submission. Information coming in off the system is updated on a daily basis, giving schools real-time data on what their students are doing.
RFID tracking has spent the better part of 10 years making its mark on how education works. In the US, this technology has been installed on some school buses to ensure that students are tracked as they travel to and from school. This not only ensures that students do actually get onto the bus (and automatically update the centralized data system when students are not present). It also ensures that students get onto the proper bus.
In Nebraska, this has been taken on step further on a “Ride-Your-Bike-to-School” program that tracks students as they take the healthy route to school. This system takes on board solar panel charged RFID readers that pick up the signals sent out by RFID tags worn by each student. It allows students simply to swipe the reader with their tag, with the information uploaded onto a centralized web-based platform, accessible by parents and school administrators.
This student tracking system can also be extended to act as a morning register system, tracking attendance and absences. It not only saves time but can act as a fail-safe to stop any human error in filling in filling in registers. Each child has their own profile on the system which they can access to see each trip they made, and allows schools to see where there may be potential problems.
Schools can also integrate RFID tracking into the book loan system, whether it’s textbooks or library books, as well as IT equipment and other school assets. With this system in place, schools can stop their assets from leaving the school premises, as well as prevent theft.
RFID tracking can be integrated into the educational institution’s Library Management System (LMS), to keep track of books that have been loaned out. This is the easiest way to create an alerts system that highlights when books are overdue, and to automatically calculate the amount of fines students are required to pay.
It isn’t just protecting assets that is important to a school – it is also the everyday security of its pupil and staff. Whether at school or at university, school/university systems can create a means of restricted access to buildings, ensuring that only those issued with tags can access facilities.
It is essentially another form of access control that can be installed and set up. It is a feature with many potential benefits, including keeping education safe, and prevent unauthorized access to school facilities.
Universities can also make successful use of RFID tracking as part of their operations, with lecture attendance monitoring used to help professors and lecturers make their classroom time more valuable. This can be undertaken through RFID-based cards being issued to students, which also allows them access to canteens, easier library resource check-out and use laundry, amongst other items.
Although this latter part has been met with some resistance, it does ensure that students are able to access a variety of services quickly.
Other benefits of RFID in this context include:
- Easy equipment management : With IT equipment such as tablets now a much bigger feature of education, schools and universities need RFID tracking to quickly locate equipment. RFID solutions let this happen within a matter of minutes, whilst also keeping track of who the equipment is with.
- Inventory management services : Education establishments frequently have large stocks of items such as textbooks, library books, research samples and the like. RFID tagging allows them to keep track of what stock they have and whether more need to be added. University laboratories also use RFID tracking to identify samples and track their movement through the process.
- Effective time management : Because students can now scan their RFID tags/wristbands easily, using an automated system, other aspects of student services can also go automated. This has the added benefit of reducing administration costs for them.
- Reduces fraud and “skiving” students : Although it can be argued that students can simply hand their RFID tags to a friend for scanning, this can be countered. Staff can see how many times the tag was used and if it was frequently occurring close to other tags.
With RFID tracking solutions on board, schools and universities can go a long way to ensuring they focus on education in a safe and secure environment.