Parent complaints slow rollout of fingerprint technology as potential substitute for Dragon Cards

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Parent complaints slow rollout of fingerprint technology as potential substitute for Dragon Cards

The image shows a student placing their index finger onto the fingerprint technology.

The image shows a student placing their index finger onto the fingerprint technology.

Photographer: Tala A.

The image shows a student placing their index finger onto the fingerprint technology.

Photographer: Tala A.

Photographer: Tala A.

The image shows a student placing their index finger onto the fingerprint technology.

Tala A., Reporter

R. Ibraheem (’20) placing her index finger on the new fingerprint scanner to pay for an order of iced caramel coffee.  Photographer: Tala A.

After the new fingerprint technology was recently introduced to students in upper elementary, some ASD parents complained about the lack of communication about and implementation of this technology. Parents were worried about their children’s safety and privacy because they knew little about the new system.

Now, if this is the first you’re hearing about this, it’s no surprise. The fingerprint system was first tested on and implemented with students in ASD’s upper elementary before ever entering the high school perimeters.

Controversy arose over the implementation because parents were not informed about the innovative idea, and as a result, they experienced confusion and distress. “That was a communication issue,” Mr. Jeff Kersting, head of the IT department, admitted. “With this process, there were a lot of steps involved and there’s a lot of things you just miss.”

Soon after the rollout of fingerprint technology, the school’s newsletter parent newsletter Sahifa published an article regarding the system. The article attempted to provide much-needed context to assure parents. It noted that the “digital file is not a fingerprint image, but an encrypted algorithm which captures the minimal feature points of the student’s finger to identify and link the student to their account.”

Because of this miscommunication, the IT department gave parents the option to opt-out of the program or to continue using the Dragon Card. Surprisingly to some, many parents, despite the confusion, chose to continue with the technology.

“The big thing behind it, was making sure purchases in the cafeteria are made by the students that actually made the purchase,” Mr. Kersting explains. He pointed out that Dragon Cards are not an especially effective way to secure the identity of the individual making purchases, as the cards can be swapped, duplicated, or stolen. This was the very reason that the IT start attempting to convert to a fingerprints-based system.

Mr. Kersting highlighted the point that “students [sometimes] forget their cards, they sometimes forget their number, but we’ve never had a kid lose their fingerprint.” Considering this and the safety of the entire system, it’s no surprise that the new system is more effective and efficient. Rather than pulling out a card when buying lunch, a student could simply extend their finger to the scanner and move on.

Although the technology is currently only being used for purchasing food in the cafeteria, there is a possibility that the IT department will extend the technology to ASD’s entrance gates in our school. Mr. Kersting stated, “The number one responsibility we have in this school is to keep the kids safe.”

The new technology, despite its rocky start, already seems to be proving more efficient and effective in the lives of the ASD community. The IT department hopes for this implementation to be successful and to have everyone under the new fingerprint technology by November.