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Kidtrack biometric system keeps track of kids on school buses

By

March 19, 2013

Kidtrack identifies young bus-riders by reading the unique vein patterns of their palms

Kidtrack identifies young bus-riders by reading the unique vein patterns of their palms

A lot of parents worry when their kids first start taking the school bus by themselves. What if they’re snatched from the bus stop? What if they get off at the wrong stop? What if the bus is hijacked? Well, while the Kidtrack system can’t keep any of those things from happening, it can at least keep track of which children are on which buses, and where.

Kidtrack was developed through a collaboration between Fujitsu Frontech North America, and IT/logistics company T&W Operations.

When kids board or depart a Kidtrack-equipped bus, they take one second to scan their palm across one of Fujitsu’s biometric PalmSecure readers. The urethane-sealed device is “about the size of an ice cube,” and uses infrared light to image the unique vein pattern of their palm. It then establishes their identity by cross-referencing that pattern against a secure database of pre-registered users’ patterns. The illumination of a green or red LED lets the driver and passenger know whether or not the scan worked.

Initial registration reportedly takes less than one minute, and none of the scans require users to actually touch the device – so there’s no chance of getting cooties.

Once a boarding or departing rider’s palm has been scanned, that data is sent to a cloud-based server. Should that child go missing, authorized administrators can check the Kicktrack website to see when, where and if they did indeed catch the bus, where the bus is at the moment, along with when and where they got off. If the bus is in an accident, the system can be used to instantly provide a list of all passengers aboard at the time.

Data is also stored locally with the reader, in case it can’t access the cloud – a definite possibility in rural areas.

Source: Kidtrack

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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12 Comments

HELL NO.

My kid will carry a cell-phone-accessible GPS, and be told not to submit to scanners.

Anne Ominous
19th March, 2013 @ 06:02 pm PDT

Giving a cell phone to a kid is NOT a good idea! Also GPS does not work inside a bus.

From my point of view (Rural school bus driver) it would make my job so much easier. No more counting kids and maintaining pax lists.

nutcase
19th March, 2013 @ 08:24 pm PDT

nutcase:

they work just as well in buses as they do in my car. Which is very good indeed.

Anne Ominous
19th March, 2013 @ 10:56 pm PDT

Ominous: I find it interesting that you are so against this technology but you are willing to give your child a cell phone and from the sound of it a Smartphone as a normal phone does not allow a parent to track the child. I'm confused because the cell phone is more easily tracked by the same people you are trying to prevent tracking the child. It also opens them up to being tracked by non-government third parties and if it is a smart phone allows a properly equipped hacker to perform surveillance on your child by taking control of the camera and mic. That’s not to mention all the foolishness that kids get into by not understanding the risks of technology via geo-tagging, social media, etc. I’d rather have this than give anyone below the age of 15 a Smartphone as they simply are not equipped to understand the risks and responsibilities involved.

The short answer to the underlying question is that there is no way for a parent to track a child that does not open the door to "the government" and possibly criminals tracking them as well.

VirtualGathis
20th March, 2013 @ 05:37 am PDT

Questions (U.S. perspective):

-How many kids go missing from buses each year?

-How many kids go missing from buses and are abducted (as opposed to returning home fine)?

-What is the cost per bus of the scanner?

-What is the data storage size per child per scan?

-What is the cost of annual maintenance, licensing, storage, retrieval, archiving, Disaster Recovery, man hours for implementing and maintaining this "solution".

-is the problem purported to be solved actually a significant problem that needs the application of the time and money needed?

Joseph Boe
20th March, 2013 @ 08:01 am PDT

A very small RFID would work just as well. And could be incorporated into a bracelet or necklace or any other small place. Is less intrusive and there is no such thing as a secure server. The Government doesn't need anymore information on me or my kids.

lafreedom
20th March, 2013 @ 09:20 am PDT

This would be an obvious mistake. People are not livestock.

Stefan Padureanu
20th March, 2013 @ 11:34 am PDT

Every God fearing person knows, that while technology is making great strides to help people, there are those who are going to exploit it for no good. It's smart to question everything and to be safe stay away from nano bio technology. I don't want my hand scanned or God forbid any chips in me. I would encourage anyone who values their soul to protest these things. Let the Medical corporations develop cures for diseases. The security companies develop better credit cards and the government to work on getting us back to the Gold standard. Maybe if we had more jobs in America, people who would take our kids or do harm would just be too darn busy at work to anything else but work.

Gargamoth
20th March, 2013 @ 03:02 pm PDT

I'm with Joseph Boe on this one. But I think the bus driver's comment in the article is a better indicator of the actual utility of this system. The companies involved are obviously playing up to parental fear to sell their product. Seriously, how many kids go missing from buses? Almost certainly if your child is stolen or attacked it is by someone they and you know, not some random bus stop waiting child snatcher.

Before this tech came along we can only assume that all our children were in a constant state of kidnapping and molestation and it was only through blind good luck that we ever got to see our children after their first bus ride.

No, I think from the point of view of the bus driver it is an easier way to make sure they haven't left any kids behind at school or at the museum during a field trip. An easy way to get an accurate count of how many kids use each bus and which stops are most popular etc... The fear aspect is just to get parents riled up enough to demand this technology is implemented in all buses.

Scion
20th March, 2013 @ 06:44 pm PDT

Yes its not really about the awful scenarios mentioned in this article. It's about helping those people entrusted with the care of children to be accountable.

Anne Ominous sounds like the type of parent every bus driver, teacher and childcare operator dreads.

If you are not prepared to help the people entrusted with the care of your children, don't expect them to help you.

nutcase
21st March, 2013 @ 08:21 pm PDT

It seems to me that it's a solution looking for a problem. Show us a REAL problem somewhere BEFORE getting all pumped up with adrenalin and going gaga over a "solution" that can easily turn out to be far worse than what it is supposed to be a cure for.

How many kids actually DO go missing from school buses or bus stops these days?

Expanded Viewpoint
21st March, 2013 @ 08:47 pm PDT

The accuracy of the palm vein scanner is very dubious when used with a casual wave of the hand. Talk of an 'ice cube sized device' in the article (and the ad below) are misleading. A better picture of how these devices need to be deployed is shown in this elaborate training video of one of Fujitsu's resellers: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOdhbde9-Zw. The scanning time is relatively slow. Mounting the important hand guides and monitoring how kids use them don't seem very practical on a bus.

But if the palm scanner is not used carefully, its accuracy suffers. If this technology is being promoted purely for surveillance (generating lists of kids that were on the bus) then have the vendors tested and demonstrated the real world accuracy? They're making some pretty tall claims, appealing to parental fears, but I doubt that they have any real performance metrics to indicate how good these lists will be.

See http://lockstep.com.au/blog/2012/05/06/biometrics-must-be-fallible.

Steve_Lockstep
22nd March, 2013 @ 01:05 am PDT
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