RFID in Education: Myths vs. Facts

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As educators across the county seek to improve student attendance reporting, security and emergency management and IT asset visibility in schools, RFID technology has recently gained popularity among school boards and administrators. In general, RFID benefits schools and communities by:

 

  • Reducing teacher workload, paperwork and distractions;
  • More quickly alerting school staff as to who is missing, rather than counting those present;
  • Enhancing situational awareness by enabling teachers, principals, hall monitors, and security staff to be aware of an area usage and alerted to breaches or exceptions; and
  • Improving efficiencies in attendance reporting, bus routing and ridership, and IT asset management

 

Like other modern technologies that go mainstream, greater awareness can be joined by a natural skepticism, which is why it’s important to communicate RFID technology’s capabilities and limitations and to implement best practices for their communities. Following are some common myths and facts about RFID technology in schools:

 

 

Myth: RFID invades privacy.
  • RFID is not GPS; it does not track you everywhere.
  • The only information written to an ID badge is a randomly generated number called the Electronic Product Code (EPC), which looks something like this: 0E0129904ABCD11000012345.
  • An EPC is meaningless unless it is associated with identifying information.
  • Data read by RFID readers is placed in a database, and is completely separated from associated identification data stored in another database unique to a school district.

 

 

Myth: Anyone with an RFID reader can ‘track’ students or access identifying information.
  • Because no identifying information is written to or stored on a badge, anyone with an RFID reader would only be able to read a randomly generated EPC number.

 

 

Myth: Students can just hand their card to someone else to be “here.”
  • Fraudulent usage can be detected by the system, and administration can be notified.
  • Badges that always appear together throughout a day can be noted.

 

 

Myth: RFID is new technology that isn’t yet ready for adoption.
  • RFID technology has been in use for over 70 years.

 

 

BEST PRACTICES

Radiant works with educators and administrators every day to implement technology based on the highest standards of reliability and privacy, which is why we think it’s important to:

 

  • Implement passive, rather than active, RFID technology in schools. In a nutshell, a passive RFID chip does not contain its own power source and can’t ‘beacon’ its location 24-7. It only transmits a randomly generated EPC code to a reader when it comes within a few feet.
  • Avoid printing identifying information on student badges.
  • Educate parents and guardians about how location information will be used, how long it will be stored in a school database, and campus data security protocols.
  • Make parental opt-out easy.

 

 
When implemented with best practices in support of existing accountability methods, passive RFID technology enables teachers, parents, and administrators to achieve greater school awareness.

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