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Archives > May 2013 > Automating Attendance, Visitor and Asset Tracking in University Environments: Taking Attendance Like Never Before

Automating Attendance, Visitor and Asset Tracking in University Environments: Taking Attendance Like Never Before

Universities are constantly advancing technology and science through cutting-edge research. Students carry the latest tablets and phones, while faculty shift more and more course material online using collaborative web apps.

By: Chris Arnwine

Yet some things always seem to stay the same, including antiquated paper attendance sheets and visitor log books. Why not shift these into the 21st century as well, saving your university time and money in the process?

Modern attendance tracking software can help you tackle these problems by eliminating the paper attendance sheet in your classrooms and lecture halls campus-wide. No more losing the attendance sheet or having friends sign in for an absent classmate.

No more having professors waste valuable instructional or grading time by having to manually report who was in class on a particular day.

Using the existing student IDs that are likely already in widespread use throughout your campus, you can automate your attendance process by having students swipe the magnetic stripe on their badges as they enter a class, scan a barcode, or scan a built-in RFID chip using an affordable USB device with your institution's existing laptops. Using attendance tracking software can increase accuracy and further simplify your school's procedures with immediate transmission to a central office at the university or department level and automatically generate notifications to parents if needed. Depending on your university's needs, you can automatically print tardy slips and issue warnings.

Of course, all of this capability is only valuable if the resulting data is superior to your current processes. Paper attendance tracking often falls short due to the inherently slow nature of doing things by hand. It may work well enough on a per class basis, but there's really no easy way to aggregate all of that data into a central location without a lot of manual work being involved. Imagine using an existing, centralized university database to write all of your schoolwide attendance records to. Such a system provides reporting capabilities at virtually any level. Find out if certain classes struggle with attendance problems compared to your campus average, or identify individual students who might be missing more than just a few classes on a regular basis. This level of reporting can warn you early of developing problems before it's too late and students fall behind.

The advantages to improving your attendance procedures don't end in the classroom. Many institutions use the same student and staff IDs to sign students and faculty in and out of social events or recreational facilities as well.

Ensure Visitor Management is Part of Your Comprehensive Strategy to Secure Your Campus
We hear about security lapses on campuses on a frequent basis in today's 24-hour news cycle. As universities refine their security protocols and look for new tools to increase the safety of students, staff, and faculty, physical security officers are often one of the first tactics that come to mind. However, armed guards make up only a small part of a comprehensive security strategy.

As we often overlook paper attendance sheets, the humble visitor sign-in sheet is typically just as equally forgotten. We like to think a visitor sign-in sheet provides a basic level of reporting and additional security, adding the ability to look back on who has arrived and departed your facilities throughout the day. However, the reality of the matter is that paper sign-in methods often provide no security at all. Is the signed-in party who they say they are? Has anyone verified their identity with a government issued ID? Did they write down the correct time? Do all of your visitors have legible handwriting? Even assuming visitors are, for the most part, honest and use legitimate information, there is very little supplementary data in addition to a simple name and time.

This is where a robust visitor management system can add value and an additional layer of security to what you currently have in place. Class-leading visitor management software replaces your typical visitor log books. Of course it allows you to collect basic name and time information, but imagine being able to include a live picture of each visitor and what they happened to look like on that same day. Rather than having your visitors inconveniently write or type all of their information, pair an ID scanner with the software to simply and quickly scan any standard driver's license or passport.

This accomplishes two things. First, verify that the ID is indeed legitimate, and second, automatically populate your signin form with the information provided on the ID. Now you not only have a name, you have an address, driver's license number, and basic physical description of your visitor. Depending on your university's security and privacy policies, you can customize the fields you collect to ensure that the solution best fits your specific purposes. Furthermore, watch list integration can check each visitor against a national database or against an internal one to provide alerts to potential security problems.

As your visitors sign in, they can also be provided with a professionally printed visitor badge rather than a hand-written one. An advanced level of reporting capability is also included so that patterns can be identified in visitor f low. Depending on the quantity of events held at your university, this type of technology can be useful in tracking and securing your events in addition to day-today visitor tracking needs.

Final Considerations: Take Control of University Assets and Property
Without a doubt the security of the people on your campus is the top priority. With university budgets being cut all over the country, keeping a watchful eye on university property and fixed assets becomes a key secondary concern.

Whether your chemistry department has valuable lab equipment that needs to be checked in or out, or you have laptops and projectors that students and faculty often borrow, it's key to know who has these assets at all times. Perhaps your institution needs to keep an inventory of various consumable items to better help with budgeting and identifying trends in usage.

Each university certainly has unique needs and varying degrees of security already in place. Advanced approaches to tracking, including software, can provide extra peace of mind campus-wide and allow security officers to know they're doing everything in their power to create as safe of an environment as possible.

 

 

About The Author
Chris Arnwine

is Sr. Marketing Manager at Jolly Technologies. Jolly is the industry leader is secure identification and tracking software, including ID Flow, Lobby Track, Asset Track, and School Track. For more information, visit www.jollytech.com or e-mail Chris at chris.arnwine@jollytech.com.

 

 

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