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Columbus schools to deploy fingerprint authentication in cafeterias


The Westerville City School District Food Service Department is slowly deploying biometric finger scanning at several of schools throughout the Columbus, Ohio district, according to a report by This Week Community News.

The department will first install the fingerprint technology at Blendon Middle, Longfellow Elementary and Pointview Elementary schools, which will cost $3,731 for the three buildings.

The new system will enable students to use their fingerprint to access their meal accounts at lunch time instead of swiping their ID card.

The technology is intended to provide greater security for student meal accounts, eliminate clerical errors and long queues, and offer a seamless way for students to identify themselves when purchasing their meals.

The fingerprint system will initially be used by 1,100 students. Once the district deems the point-of-sale software to be a success, it will expand its implementation to the remaining schools during the 2015-16 school year.

“One of the benefits of the new system is the reduction of time spent to manage and maintain the lunch cards at the elementary level by teachers, secretaries and food-service staff, and at middle and high school the biometric scan takes a fraction of a second versus a student entering their ID number,” said Kari Dennis, manager of food services and purchasing. “We are always evaluating ways to improve the student experience in our cafeterias.”

The school district addressed concerns of privacy by emphasizing that student fingerprints themselves will not be stored.

Instead, the index fingers will be scanned as an identifier image, which is then converted into a binary number that is encrypted and stored with the same level of security as other school records.

The school district said all of the fingerprint data will be erased once the student is no longer enrolled or graduates, and the fingerprint images cannot be re-created or provided to a third-party company.

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