With their potential to reduce workloads, streamline administration, improve services, and strengthen security, it is no wonder that so many schools are adopting smart card solutions for their students. RFID smart cards can transform how a school operates, assisting with everything from cashless vending to access control. Here’s why it is so useful.
Smart cards for safeguarding
By installing RFID readers that are connected over the internet to a school’s IT system, it is possible to keep track of where students are throughout the day. From the moment they get on the school bus in the morning, until they get off again in the afternoon, tapping their smart card on the reader enables administrators to know where they are.
This brings several benefits:
- Bus companies know who is on the bus
- Students register in school the moment they enter
- Parents can be notified swiftly if students are absent
- RFID readers placed near classroom entrances let teachers know who is present
- The school knows the whereabouts of each student throughout the day
- Attendance and punctuality data is collected automatically, reducing admin time
- Parents can access their children’s data whenever they want to
Smart cards ensure schools know that students are where they are supposed to be; if they aren’t, staff can be alerted quickly. In emergency situations, knowing the location of students helps emergency services find them easily.
In addition to knowing the location of a student, smart cards can also be used for access control. These protect students in many ways, such as preventing intruders getting inside the building, stopping students entering potentially hazardous areas, like chemical stores or unsupervised pools, and controlling foot traffic in busy parts of the building where overcrowding may become a safety issue.
Smart cards for purchases
Asking students to pay for items with cash is now frowned upon by parents and schools. Parents, who usually pay for most things by card, often have to drive to an ATM to get it, students sometimes lose it or spend it on things they shouldn’t, and schools waste countless hours counting out change in the canteen or tallying up takings at the end of the day. Money, as in dollars and cents, has become a hassle.
One of the benefits for schools with a smart card system is that they can go completely cashless and eradicate all those issues for parents, students, and staff. Smart cards can be used as payment cards which parents can simply top up online. Instead of carrying cash, students pay by tapping their smart card on a payment reader. Cards can be used for canteens, school bookstores, printers and even some vending machines.
For schools, there are other benefits besides no longer having to waste time counting the cash: canteen service is speeded up, financial records can be automated, there’s no need for insurance against cash theft, and parents and staff can be given accurate reports of everything a student spends money on – including a complete record of their in-school diet. Gone are the days when children can pretend they are getting their greens in the school canteen.
Smart cards for libraries and resources
Losing track of library books and other resources can have consequences for learning and be costly when they need to be replaced. Smart cards help school libraries and resource centers to modernize, enabling accurate recording of which student borrowed which item and when. Importantly, this information can be linked to a student’s account so that they (and their parents) can be sent reminders when the item is due for return or when a fine has been issued.
Smart cards used in this way dramatically reduce the number of items that go missing or go overdue, saving the school from having to buy replacements and making sure other students needing those resources get them on time.
There is a real need in schools to control access to and use of the IT system. Students need to be restricted from accessing admin areas of the network, especially those areas where personal data is stored, and they need special settings to ensure they can only access appropriate content from the internet. At the same time, they need to be able to log into their own user account and access their work and the applications they need.
Smart cards are useful in that they can be used as a means of two-factor authentication for logging into a system, ensuring other students cannot hack their account simply by knowing their password. At the same time, they can control user privileges, ensuring that a student can only access the areas of the network and the internet that they have authorization for.
Smart card systems, such as those available from Universal Smart Cards, can bring many positive changes to a school, improving safeguarding, reducing administrative burdens, cutting costs and enhancing the services provided to students and parents. What makes smart cards an even more attractive proposition is that a single card can be used for many purposes: for ID, access control, attendance monitoring, cashless payments, library borrowing and more.