The Scotsman reports that PPP (Public Private Partnership) and PFI (Private Finance Initiative) project meisters Amey (part of Spanish Grupo Ferrival since 2003) have installed a time and attendance system Todholm Primary in Paisley which incorporates payments for school meals whuch relies on a novel Fujitsu contactless palm reading system supplied by Yarg Biometrics.(141 St James Road, Glasgow G4 0LT Tel: +44 (0)141 303 8396) The company can also provide the Yarg FingerSwipe where no fingerprint is left on the sensor, therefore, a latent print cannot be extracted or used to "spoof" the system.
The large biometric sensor contains a small near infra red light emitter. This is absorbed by the blood in the veins and arteries of the hand which produces an image of the pattern of veins in the hand. Converted into a data file of polar co-ordinates this generates a numerical template for each user.
"The biometric system addresses the need for a secure non-token cashless system to provide Electronic Point of Sale (E-POS) for their catering facilities. " says the Yarg Biometrics website.... and " the technology can be expanded to provide leading edge biometric access control applications, to monitor truancy levels, to facilitate accurate attendance at classes and overall better time management."
Re-assuringly they also state that .."Unlike fingerprint biometrics it cannot be linked to any criminal records database and civil liberties issues are therefore not affected." Oh yeah ?
The Scotsman further reports that "Those behind the scheme now want to roll it out across Scotland and say it could be used to allow pupils to get in and out of school, register their attendance and take out library books."
Grant Henderson, is the the contracts director with Amey, and is naturally an enthusiast for the system and points to the benefits of the system over earlier magnetic card swipe systems because swipe cards can get lost or stolen. It also helps protects the identity of children who are entitled to free school meals and stops bullying to steal dinner money, say other supporters.
"Under this system, the young person comes to the canteen and runs their hand across the scanner.......
"A display then shows the dinner lady how much money they've got left in their account and what they've selected from the menu in the past, so they've got the option of choosing something more healthy."
"It can even tell the caterer if the young person has any allergies so they know what food they're not allowed to have."
Apart from a a limp remark from Patrick Harvie, a Green Party MSP, who has "serious concerns about the use of biometric technology in schools." and is concerned that " theft could potentially result in data being processed wrongly or falling into the wrong hands." there is no discussion about consent by the parent, guardian , child of the use of the personal data or what refusal means.
What is certain is ..."Those behind the scheme now want to roll it out across Scotland".
Got to the Scotsman news story and read the thankfully, very lively and informed debate on the topic and the way that it prepares a nascent generation for even more technologically based social control.
Amey and PFI
Scottish Borders Council announced the Amey consortium Scottish Borders Education Partnership as preferred bidder for its schools regeneration programme on March 26th 2006..
The 30-year contract, worth £58m to Amey, will commence in August 2008. Amey’s consortium partners are Weisbaden based Bilfinger Berger BOT Gmbh, the lead sponsor and promoter and Graham Construction the three schools involved in the initiative are; Berwickshire, Earlston and Eyemouth High Schools.
Amey was recently been awarded Bradford’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme, the £250m PFI contract by Northamptonshire County Council and the recently named preferred biddder as part of the Clackmannanshire Education Partnership consortium. Worth £60m, over 30 years the Clackmannanshire contract will also involve the rebuild of three secondary schools; Alva Academy, Alloa Academy and Lornshill Academy.
Bilfinger Berger BOT Gmbh
BB are involved in LIFT- (Local Improvement Finance Trusts) with Barnet, Haringey & Enfield LIFT, UK and Liverpool & Sefton LIFT, UK. They are also involved in PFI Education projects with Bedfordshire Schools (30 Mio. €) Coventry Schools (40 Mio. €.)Kent Schools (150 Mio. €) and North Wiltshire Schools (60 Mio. €).... and also the Gloucester Hospital (37 Mio. € over 30 years) and Hull Hospital (37 Mio. € over 30 years) . They also have (37 Mio. € over 30 years) PPP contract for the British Embassy in Berlin.
Here are some sites to explore and review the way technology is being used to document, watch, record and ultimately control children.... and get them ready for a lifetime of it.
http://www.michaelpbyron.com/ (Author of Infinity's Rainbow: The Politics of Energy, Climate and Globalization. - ) also see his blog http://myblog.michaelpbyron.com