India: Biometric machine for a better welfare system

This ‘speaking’ machine can curb misuse of ration (The Hindu)

Unlike smart cards, which can be pledged or could be handed over to another to get the benefits, biometric system prevents the misuse of ration card. Also, only genuine below poverty line card holder approaches the PDS shop as the well-to-do persons, who hitherto used to send their representatives/ agents to buy the products, hesitate to personally visit the shop, Mr. Gowda said.

This machine can help overcome the economic disadvantages of illiteracy collect better data on food disbursements, reduce the black market in welfare benefits, and can reduce the welfare benefits that accrue to those who do not qualify for particular programs.

But it’s not just the machine. There seems to be a system behind the hardware that can monitor the whole program in near real time.

Pretty cool deployment. I hope it works out.

This one reminds me of a system we developed to monitor teacher time-and-attendance for an aid project in West Africa.

Now those are some scare quotes I can get behind.

Biometric attendance ‘fails’ at BMC offices (Financial Express)

Despite efforts to make attendance tracking more transparent, within just a year, the BMC’s bio-metric attendance system has proven to be a dud.

According to the response to an Right to Information (RTI) query filed by citizen Sharad Yadav, of the 1,081 bio-metric attendance machines installed in the civic body’s offices across Mumbai, just about 300 are functional.

The current market rate for these machines ranges from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 per machine.

I’m curious about what’s going on here: Weak management? Lack of tech support? Poorly chosen vendor? There could be a lot of reasons for failure, but it’s not like biometric time-and-attendance is rocket science. At this point it’s pretty well understood.

Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court rules against fingerprint biometrics for Time-and-Attendance

Poland: May An Employee Request Biometric Data? (Mondaq)

Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) has recently ruled that an employer is not entitled to collect employees’ biometric data in the form of fingerprints in order to record employees’ entrance and exits times, even if the employees consent.

There’s that word again: consent.

But if the article is accurate, Poland’s Supreme Administrative Court actually seems to be saying that, technically, worker’s can’t consent to fingerprint time-and-attendance in much the same way that children can’t legally consent to certain acts.

I wonder what they would say if a firm wanted to raise wages with the money they saved by implementing a biometric time-and-attendance system.

Towns turn to biometrics for human resources efficiency

Rhode Island Town switches to biometric time clocks (Johnston Sunrise)

“It’s a great system. We’re moving into the 21st century,” Polisena said.

Biometric time clocks will be placed in all town buildings: the police and fire stations, Town Hall, the Parks and Recreation Department, Department of Public Works, Municipal Courthouse and Mohr Library. All union employees will use the system with the exception of police officers and firefighters, as their schedules fluctuate too much. Office staff in both departments will use the system, however.

Polisena added that these time clocks would prevent “buddy punching” and provide a more accurate record of employee attendance. Reports on hours worked and times clocked in and out for each employee will be automatically sent to department heads to help them keep track of employee performance. Department heads can access the town server at any time to manually add in notes about absenteeism or issues regarding specific employees.

The data will likewise be sent to ADP, the payroll company that handles town employees. Pay stubs will report how much vacation time employees have accrued.

Principals want More Biometrics in Schools

It’s not hard to understand why. They work; they’re cheap; they can save time and money. And when something happens, it’s the principal who has to face the music.

Fla. District Considers Student-Fingerprint Scanners (Education Week)

In response to an anonymous survey of Palm Beach County principals, the 171,000-student district is considering implementing fingerprint scans, or biometrics, for student bus riders, lunch purchases, and other uses, according to school officials.

In the survey, commissioned by the district’s support operations staff, 60 percent of Palm Beach principals said they would like to see biometrics in schools to help take attendance, borrow materials from the library, or make cafeteria purchases. “Based on the responses to the biometrics survey we will seek Board approval to pursue a pilot use on school buses based on information learned from the previous pilot in school cafeterias and media centers,” Joseph Sanches, the school district chief of support operations, wrote in a blog post.

Read the whole thing. There are lots of good links there, too. And remember, half of what a school does is ID management.

 UPDATE:The survey results are available here (Support Operations Scoop) Click and scroll down.

48 responses…

Biometrics offer significant advantages over identification cards.
(Strongly Agree = 15%, Agree = 45%, Disagree = 15%, Strongly Disagree = 2%, Not Sure = 23%)

I support using biometrics for such functions as student attendance, purchasing meals in the cafeteria, borrowing materials from media center, and tracking students on school buses.
(SA = 30%, A = 21%, D = 13%, SD = 2%, NS = 11%)

Even though biometrics do not record students’ fingerprints and it is being used successfully by other school districts, too many parents will object to its use in Palm Beach County for it to be used here.
(SA = 6%, A = 15%, D = 30%, SD = 4%, NS = 45%)

Giving the right amount of time, proper marketing and education most parents would come around to find the use of biometrics acceptable.
(SA = 15%, A = 64%, D = 6%, SD = 2%, NS = 13%)

The District should consider the use of biometrics in the future and not give up on its possible use with students at some point.
(SA = 21%, A = 51%, D = 11%, SD = 2%, NS = 15%)

Written comments are also included

Luzerne County, PA Finds Integrating Biometric Time-and-Attendance System Challenging

Time not on county’s side (Citizens’ Voice)

“I think that in the understandable zeal to improve perceived accountability, we may have gotten ahead of ourselves with respect to how difficult implementation was going to be,” Lawton said.

The commissioners’ terms in office expired Jan. 2, when a new home-rule government with a county council and appointed manager began.

“You separate the recording of hours worked from how those hours are characterized, whether they are worked hours, vacation hours, overtime, admin time, people’s hourly rates,” Lawton explained. “That’s where the extra staff time is coming in, not in making sure everybody’s thumbprints and ID codes are being recorded correctly, but how this is being integrated into the payroll system, how this is eventually going to replace manual payroll entry by payroll clerks. And that is proving a real challenge, I will admit. We will overcome it.”

Local papers consistently do a better job of getting at the real issues involved in biometric deployments. Read the whole thing.

There are tremendous ROI opportunities for adopters of biometric time-and-attendance systems in both the private and the public sectors. Public sector organizations seem to have more issues implementing them but they also seem to be chasing very large potential ROI’s, too.

This post updates this one:
Luzerne County, Pa. adopts biometric time-and-attendance system

Jamaican Fingerprint Fears and Revisiting the Issue of Biometric Time-and-Attendance Applications

Keeping up with this blog brings me to the web sites of newspapers all over the world. Most use pretty standard names (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but a couple use names that are so memorable and charming that they have become my favorites. They are The Deming Headlight out of New Mexico, and The Gleaner of Jamaica.

Today The Gleaner has a piece on fingerprint biometrics for time and attendance, Fingerprint Fears, that reads like a flashback to 2009.

The arguments are well worn and the comments section is lively. But one thing that stands out is the state of Jamaican law on the subject of fingerprints. Evidently:

Under Jamaican law, a person can only be compelled to provide fingerprints in specific criminal matters. The law also allows an individual the right to refuse to give fingerprints.

Section 3A of the Finger Prints Act states that “where a person is taken into custody on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence, that person’s fingerprints and photograph … shall not be taken unless the authorised officer informs the person of such matters as may be prescribed, and that (the person) has the right to refuse to have his fingerprints and photograph taken”.

The article quotes a lawyer and the Justice Minister explaining that refusal to use a fingerprint time-and-attendance system is not grounds for dismissal for current employees. It does however seem that companies are within their rights to make future hiring contingent upon the agreement to use such a system.

Regardless of the peculiarities of the Jamaican situation, it has offered an opportunity to revisit some earlier posts that best covered this well trodden ground. Note: “Ghost workers” can be substituted for “buddy punchers” in any the posts quoted below.

Biometrics for Time-and-Attendance aren’t that Controversial

Employers already have extremely sensitive information that, in the wrong hands, can be used for identity theft, harassment, discrimination and any number of other abuses. A long string of apparently random text characters (biometric template) cannot be used for any of these things.

Biometrics, Ghost Workers, ROI and Sharing the Savings

Adopting more efficient ID management systems creates winners and losers. In this case the losers are those who receive the ghost workers’ salaries. While these individuals aren’t necessarily sympathetic characters, they aren’t necessarily powerless, either. By sharing the financial benefits of of better ID management with legitimate workers, the president of Guinea has created an “army” of organizational allies as he attempts to change the finances and culture of the military.

Farm of the Week: Producer clocks in with IT system to control costs

“It might sound hard, but more accuracy means more fairness, for both staff and customers,” says Mr Machin. “Thirty percent of our costs are labour. The more we pin costs down, the more choice we have about how to distribute rewards. And the better we get at pricing our produce, the more customers we bring in.”

That last one is one of the first posts at this blog and the article it links to (thanks to The Yorkshire Post, it’s still active) remains one of my favo(u)rites.

Following Attendance Scandal São Paulo City Council Self-Imposes Biometric System

After scandal, 42 of the 55 councilors say they are in favor of presence only with digital (O Estadão de São Paulo)
Google Chrome Translation (with slight edits)

After [this newspaper] uncovered fraud in the attendance record at City Hall, 42 of the 55 councilors said they were in favor of attendance at plenary sessions being recorded only by fingerprint. To change the bylaws of the house, you need the backing of 28 MPs.

The current system relies on passwords.