Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Security Technology

UK School Introduces Facial Recognition 214

Posted by timothy
from the excuse-me-while-I-register-my-delight dept.
Penguin_me writes "A UK school has quietly introduced new facial recognition systems for registering students in and out of school: 'HIGH-TECH facial recognition technology has swept aside the old-fashioned signing of the register at a school. Sixth-formers will now have their faces scanned as they arrive in the morning at the City of Ely Community College. It is one of the first schools in the UK to trial the new technology with its students. Face Register uses the latest high-tech gadgets to register students in and out of school in just 1.5 seconds.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK School Introduces Facial Recognition

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:13AM (#27089143)
    don't you think?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How about a Guy Fawkes mask?
    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:34AM (#27091063) Journal
      Wearing a berka sounds like a good idea, don't you think?

      You make a good point.

      This "school"... it has high-tech security, guards, biometrics, no one learns much there and they call it an "institution".

      What makes it different from a prison?

      You know there's a huge push on to try to get kids into elderly care? They'll throw money at em, pay for their school, pay em a salary to go, and yet, the kids don't want to have anything to do with it. It's a real crisis, cause there's not enough kids to wipe all the elderly assholes' assholes, so to speak. Final result of all this womb-poison being shoved down peoples throats, I guess.

      I told my folks and their friends this was going to happen when I was 17, and that it was inevitable that we would abandon our parents generation to die without care because there weren't enough of my generation. Man you want to see some pissed off people with a sense of entitlement.

      But I'm starting to think maybe I was wrong. With shit like this being done to children by their own parents in their own nation, abandonment seems a little too turn-the-other-cheek to be realistic. The way things are going, demand for retribution and revenge seems inevitable...
  • by adnonsense (826530) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:14AM (#27089163) Homepage Journal

    Or just someone holding up someone else's photo?

    • by Big Hairy Ian (1155547) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:39AM (#27089297)
      RTFA it scans the face using infra red. You are right about twins though also how will it cope with beards/Mustaches/Sun glasses. Not such an issue at a 6th form college I know plus this a voluntary system which I'm sure the students support because it saves them about 40 mins a day sitting their whilst a teacher goes through the register.
      • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:44AM (#27089323) Homepage

        This absolutely sucks. In my day, all we had to do to sneak out of class, was wait for teacher to turn their back.

        Now days kids have to wear Thermoptic Camouflage armour. What is the world coming to.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by amias (105819)

        i wonder how it copes with the catastrophic outbursts of acne and spots that afflict
        people in the 6th form college.

        It would be serious embarrassing to have to
        be scanned again and again because of your
        spots.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mdwh2 (535323)

        In my sixth form, I don't think anyone bothered turning up for registration :) The teachers didn't care. It's not like this is compulsory school, if you don't turn up it's your loss, not theirs. (US readers may not be aware - 16-18 is optional in the UK, and my experience was that they treat you much more like an adult student at University, rather than still a school kid who has to follow rules. Although some colleges may be stricter than others.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ashriel (1457949)

      Most facial recognition systems can determine the difference between identical twins - there are small differences, y'know.

      Actually, if you pay attention, you should be able to tell one twin from another yourself, assuming you know a pair. I've known a few, and I've always been able to tell the difference. One dead giveaway is when one twin has a slightly slimmer face than the other.

    • by CrimsonScythe (876496) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:34AM (#27089939)
      Twins? Easy! The evil twin always has a goatee.
  • Why do this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siphbowl (1220872) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:15AM (#27089175)
    Why do this? What possible advantage is there? It seems like a completely gratuitous database. Besides which, when I was at college (in the UK age 16-18 normally) they didn't take register - If you didn't turn up, that was your own problem; the lecturers took it up with you when you finally did turn up for class.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SlashSlasher (1493447)
      Now the police will have a full biometric database of the entire population. They used to have to make up a baseless accusation to add you to their database and take your DNA. That's very useful when you run your country like a supermax prison. London has more camera surveillance than most of the prisons in my country. If they wrap George Orwell's corpse in wire they can power the whole thing by how fast he's spinning in his grave. To everyone who thought I was a paranoid freak: I'll take that apology now.
      • by reddburn (1109121)

        For all the gloom & doom - and I'll admit that I agree with some of it - nobody seems to have actually read the article and seen any of the pluses. Yes, it's somewhat suspicious that the biometric registration is being applied only to sixth formers (I assume this is akin to our senior year of high school), whose adult features have pretty much developed, but honestly, who the hell thinks that it will be any easier to spy on them than it is already, given the astonishing amount of privacy they give up vi

    • Re:Why do this? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by montyzooooma (853414) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:36AM (#27089279)

      Besides which, when I was at college (in the UK age 16-18 normally) they didn't take register - If you didn't turn up, that was your own problem; the lecturers took it up with you when you finally did turn up for class.

      Except when you get hit by a bus the college then gets into trouble for not knowing where you are when you're supposed to be under their care. We're a nanny state, remember.

      • Re:Why do this? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by digitig (1056110) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:57AM (#27089409)
        Age 16-18 you are not "under their care". At 16 in the UK you are old enough to marry (with your parents permission; not needed in Scotland), leave school and set up your own home or join up with the military. You're considered enough of an adult to look after yourself (though not enough of an adult to go and see a film showing stuff that you're pretty much expected to be doing if you're married. Err...)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314)

      Same reason they're making DNA databases of kids, fingerprint databases of kids and so on.

      Because most head teachers are power hungry muppets with not a single bit of respect for liberty in their blood.

      It's no suprise then that Jacqui Smith was a teacher before coming totalitarian dictator in chief for the Labour party reporting only to comrade Brown and torture master Milliband.

      I don't know what the deal is but so many people in the teaching profession in the UK seem to have this power hungry attitude. I d

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        Mod parent -1 Sensationalist tabloid rubbish.

        Disclaimer: I work in the education system, and the Headteacher here is fantastic.
        • by Xest (935314)

          Lucky you. You'll note I said "most" headteachers, that means, not all.

          I've worked in Education also, albeit not in a single school like you appear to by referring to a single head teacher. I worked in IT support covering 171 schools for a few years so have witnessed first hand the types of people I'm talking about in countless schools and it absolutely was the majority that would fall into this definition.

          It is not therefore sensationalist rubbish. Just because you personally haven't experienced or witness

          • I've worked in four schools.
            ID cards with RFID cover access control to buildings and cashless cafeteria systems.
            Fingerprinting I disagree with totally.
            CCTV has been used to prevent vandalism in IT Suites, and aiding in investigating reports of violent behaviour and burglary. Its use in classrooms I do not agree with.
            ContactPoint database should never, EVER be brought about, and I will do all I can do prevent it. Vote for opposition, write to my MP, join organised demonstrations, donate to NO2ID-linked chari
            • Re:Why do this? (Score:4, Informative)

              by Xest (935314) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:02AM (#27090687)

              I've been to schools where ID cards have been used for toilet access and to monitor where kids are in the school with the aim of making sure kids aren't spending too long in the toilets avoiding lessons or to make sure they're not elsewhere in the school they shouldn't be.

              How well does your monitoring work? The schools I covered were all attached to the Yorkshire and Humberside Grid for Learning which is effectively an ISP for all schools connected in that region. They offered filtering which was pretty ineffective because it'd take 24hrs or more to get a site blacklisted. Some schools used their own filtering solutions on top, usually Censornet. There was certainly no problem kids getting round most censorship regardless but certainly many teachers getting wound up about it when the end result of the kids getting where they wanted anyway had questionable negative effect regardless.

              The problem is that as with the real world and CCTV cameras, monitoring to stop bullying and such merely just moves the problem elsewhere. It doesn't deal with the core issue, it just hides it away better.

              I wouldn't argue kids should have the right to view porn, they should certainly be taught it's not accepted behaviour to browse stuff in public places, but I would question what the actual problem is if they do look at that kind of thing. I mean, how many kids have mobile phones now anyway that can access the internet and browse stuff like that if they really want to? Monitoring seems like a futile band aid that just hides the problem. It does have the side effect of discouraging people from using the internet in case they run into something that may get them in trouble. A lot of kids also just used proxy sites to bypass filtering, if required, using another kids password or even in the odd case, getting hold of the teacher's.

              Of course, you can blacklist everything and whitelist what is required but again this just ruins the internet for the kids, there'll be little point to it for the most part. Even Wikipedia has content people might not want kids seeing and you either go through trying to block every questionable page or you let them have full access. You then do that for every site you allow.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Social conditioning, get the young into the 'cool' new future. Only saddo's who lived in 1984, quote 1984. The gate way drug for more and more tracking. Later used in public places, your part time job, full time job, taxi, public transport ... at home with google, Apple, Sony, MS..

      Security services love it. Can passively track you for your productive life. No more funny codes on tickets or 'numbers', just you in front of any networked camera.

      ID the skull in the shallow grave? Rebuild a skull and f
    • by denzacar (181829) on Friday March 06, 2009 @07:21AM (#27089543) Journal

      It is ONE school. How useful could data from only one school in the entire UK be for a forming of some BigBrotherTM database?

      Nah... It's something much simpler.
      Same reason the face-recognition companies practically gave away their hardware to selected locations in India so they could get better at recognizing the "darker" faces.

      Fine tuning.

      Teenagers have a tendency for two things more than any other age group.
      Growing up and changing their facial structure very quickly in a matter of months AND they "play" with their faces more than anyone else.
      Makeup and cosmetics for girls, facial hair for boys, piercings etc. for both.

      The point of this "experiment" is to teach the machines how to successfully identify people even if they change their hairstyle, hair color, eye color, grow a beard or a mustache, do some light plastic surgery or heavy makeup to alter their faces, etc.

      Now, when they put this in every school - THAT is for making the Great Britain's Good Citizens Glorious Database or GBGCGD.

      • by diskis (221264) on Friday March 06, 2009 @07:57AM (#27089731)

        >It is ONE school.

        It's the FIRST school.

      • What about fine tuning ... population?

        You need start with frog in cold water. One experiment here, deploying in whole district there ... small steps until it is everywhere.

      • by D Ninja (825055)

        Makeup and cosmetics for girls, facial hair for boys, piercings etc. for both.

        Maybe the UK is a bit more conservative than the US, but, here, it would be more like: "makeup and cosmetics and facial hair and piercings for all boys and girls."

        Okay...hopefully no facial hair for the girls...

      • by sootman (158191) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:52PM (#27092781) Homepage Journal

        I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that Cory Doctorow's awesome book Little Brother [craphound.com] is a great read and can be downloaded for free from the author's site.

        The first order of business were those pesky gait-recognition cameras. Like I said, they'd started out as face-recognition cameras, but those had been ruled unconstitutional. As far as I know, no court has yet determined whether these gait-cams are any more legal, but until they do, we're stuck with them...

        Your personal, inch-by-inch walk is yours and yours alone. The problem is your inch-by-inch walk changes based on how tired you are, what the floor is made of, whether you pulled your ankle playing basketball, and whether you've changed your shoes lately. So the system kind of fuzzes-out your profile, looking for people who walk kind of like you.

        There are a lot of people who walk kind of like you. What's more, it's easy not to walk kind of like you -- just take one shoe off. Of course, you'll always walk like you-with-one-shoe-off in that case, so the cameras will eventually figure out that it's still you. Which is why I prefer to inject a little randomness into my attacks on gait-recognition: I put a handful of gravel into each shoe. Cheap and effective, and no two steps are the same. Plus you get a great reflexology foot massage in the process (I kid. Reflexology is about as scientifically useful as gait-recognition).

    • Giving them the habits of being checked and scanned, possibly print them and get DNA at school, as an adult they will have the habits of it getting done, and won't protest as loudly as those which are used to normal freedom. Start with the children, and when they are adult, they will get used to it, and some might EVEN ask for it as a security measure.
    • by D Ninja (825055)

      the lecturers took it up with you when you finally did turn up for class.

      Psh. Here in the U.S. you wouldn't even get that much. It's more of the mindset, "You already paid us. Whether you come to class or fail out is your own freaken problem."

      Actually, I kind of liked that mentality. Make people responsible for themselves. Let the professors teach.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      When they put it everywhere in the country, people will say "Well we had to do that for school, it's not that bad".

      The friendly face of Big Brother...

  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by houghi (78078) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:19AM (#27089199)

    When I was in school, many moons ago, the teacher just wrote up who was there and who wasn't. Is Johnny in class? No? Report it. No matter if he was in school roaming the halls. Why solve a social problem with a technical solution?

    The bad thing is that these are the people who should teach your children.

    • by JohnFluxx (413620)

      It's not particularly even a social problem. At 18 you should be old enough to decide whether to go to class or not.

      • "At 18 you should be old enough to decide whether to go to class or not"

        But if you say you'll turn up and don't it's the teachers that the newspapers scream about rather than the slacker teenagers who got wasted the night before and don't turn up.

        I don't know what they pay teachers but whatever it is, it's not enough.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rarity (165626) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:51AM (#27089377)

      Why solve a social problem with a technical solution?

      You're misapprehending the problem. If the problem was "how do we know who's in class?", then there's nothing wrong with the simple signing of the register. The problem that this is designed to solve, though, is "how do we collect facial-recognition data on as many people as we can while they're still to young to do anything about it?"

  • Bloody idiots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:22AM (#27089207) Homepage

    I work in schools, in the UK, in IT. This is just incredibly stupid.

    You are now RELIANT on that system being accurate to safely evacuate the building in an emergency. That automated system is NO GOOD for that purpose - and you're relying on it with little to no manual backup. You WILL get students with photocopies of their friend's faces (and/or other similarly low-tech solutions to allow the automated system to recognise and register them) in order to get out of lessons, lectures, etc. that they are made to attend. Then when you have a fire, and they are actually somewhere else (or vice versa, logged out of the system but actually still on the premises) you are going to put people's lives at risk. Seriously, give me a week, and I could probably find a way around it that a sixth-former could manage.

    Not only that, you are opening yourself up to enormous DPA issues, because this is a irrevocable biometric - much like the UK government and education in general currently condemns and advises against fingerprint recognition systems in schools. It's also completely unnecessary, extremely expensive, probably quite unreliable (any identical twins go to that college, or even just two people who look alike?), potentially discriminatory (What if someone's face isn't recognised? What if they have disfigurement? What if they deliberately obscure their face or object to the system? Do you allow a bypass to that system for them?). The cost of implementing and *maintaining* and *renewing* that system probably far outweighs an hour or so a day at minimum wage for a member of admin/support staff who has some free time, before you even consider the future problems you've opened yourself up to.

    Tell me... did the head of the school come up with this idea? I very much doubt it was the staff who were handling the registration systems in the first place.

    • Re:Bloody idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

      by peterprior (319967) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:42AM (#27089315)

      Not only that - but who has the time to "quickly and effectively print data off from the system showing who was on site" when there is a bloody fire alarm. When I was in school we were told to leave everything and get out, not wait for a laser printer to warm up or an epson stylus to clean its printer cartridges.

      • by ledow (319597)

        Alright... on the same topic... what happens if THE SYSTEM is the cause of the fire? Hence, you have no records and can't gather any? Not likely, but there are things such as *power cuts* when fires occur (even enforced by the fire brigade etc.), LOTS OF WATER from sprinklers, etc. How is the system going to "print off" a nice piece of paper when it's in six inches of water and the paper is soaked?

        • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Friday March 06, 2009 @07:34AM (#27089627)

          what happens if THE SYSTEM is the cause of the fire? Hence, you have no records and can't gather any?

          You're thinking too localized. For missioncritical systems, you'd use an offsite datacenter with a decent SLA-contact. It's up to the datacenter to take the precautions to not have their servers go up in flames (that's why some of these datacenters are bunkered and have high security) and preferably have a redundant setup, spread over more then 1 location which is easy these days with virtualization.

          • You're thinking too logically. This is the UK education system we're talking about. Hell the government loses half the populations details in the post - this isn't going to be much more advanced than a PC sitting in an office.

          • You'd still need to get the data back to the site. What if at the datacenter, nodoby is reachable, or what if all faxes and phones of the school (needed to receive the list back from the datacenter) are submerged in water too?
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by ZeroExistenZ (721849)

              You'd still need to get the data back to the site.

              That should be no problem, there are alot of options.

              What if at the datacenter, nodoby is reachable

              Pay nodoby a bit more to be present or pick a good datacenter, there should be at least one person physically at the datacenter and a few on call to make sure they can meet their SLA's.

              or what if all faxes and phones of the school (needed to receive the list back from the datacenter) are submerged in water too?

              When I drive to work I browse the web on my cellpho

      • A school I used to Tech in had an electronic registration system using a system called PARS [tascsoftware.co.uk]. All staff laptops had the registration software which updates a central database. Admin staff can amend these details as required.

        Located in three seperate offices in three seperate buildings were three laptops, designated "Fire Modules". These pulled updated registration information from the central server for whole school every minute, and were constantly running during the school day. In the case of fire, the th
    • by thermian (1267986)

      Tell me... did the head of the school come up with this idea? I very much doubt it was the staff who were handling the registration systems in the first place.

      Most likely it was someone who looked at the amount of physical registers needed for the current system, thought an electronical system would be cheaper/more efficient, and it got pushed through. I agree with the fire safety side,. Its a shame that people will likely need to die in fire even to start an 'urgent review' of the system if it gets widely adopted.

      Whenever I read of things like this I'm always reminded of the university office of a lecturer whose research speciality was issues around the paperles

    • Replying twice as I've just thought of something else.

      "What if they deliberately obscure their face or object to the system?"

      In todays multicultural Britain, what if a Muslim wearing a Burqa wants to enroll at the college?

    • by pmontra (738736)

      Spending public money sometimes is a way to get rich, so the real usefulness of the expense is not important as long as it gets approved. I'll answer your last question with another one: who's getting paid to implement the system and which decision makers are close to some of those companies?

      Disclaimer: I'm sure these things don't happen in the UK so any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental, etc.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      It looks like you're trying to write about computers..
      I work in schools, in the UK, with MS. This is just incredibly stupid.
      This is not about you. This is about the next generation feeling happy about facial recognition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ledow (319597)

        Agreed, in part. It's just a dumb idea.

        However, that system is undoubtedly NOT under the control of the IT department, or only minimally via their contractors, when it should be - nobody else really deals with the policy regarding DPA issues except for the IT department and possibly a Data Manager in the larger schools. Unfortunately, it will also tie into their IT registration systems. In doing so, they've given no thought to maintenance or integration costs, whether it satisfies the requirements of suc

        • by AHuxley (892839)
          Remember back to the end of the "troubles"?
          With all that truck tracking CCTV?
          Now the security services want to track people.
          As for your 'contractors', think well connected ex GCHQ
    • Check this out: high def, remote controllable cameras in the classroom, with the head teacher monitoring teachers' every move. You couldn't make it up:
      http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/education/s/1100128_class_cctv_comes_under_fire [manchester...news.co.uk]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ledow (319597)

        You certainly couldn't - I worked in another school in Essex that does exactly the same. I assure you it is not only real, but *nobody* in the school understands the problem with it except the bad teachers who accept it but get tetchy that their bad teaching is being recorded... not the fact that they are bad teachers, or that they/the staff/the students are being recorded - but the fact that they might have thier gravy-train ended.

        I was asked to design and build systems to do just this too, because I coul

        • by RMH101 (636144)
          We have few enough teachers that we're incentivising going into teaching by giving graduates 6000UKP if they stay in teaching for a few years, and shit like this is meant to encourage people to join the profession? Your boss sitting on your shoulder for 8 hours a day telling you what to do? Like that'll encourage a lively, interesting and friendly environment?
          Even burger-flipping at McD's is less invasive than that.
          The poor teachers are probably afraid to do *anything* for fear that it'll be interpreted
          • by ledow (319597)

            Teacher's are not very worried about this at all... stress factors for teachers I've spoken to (based on eight years of working in state schools in the UK, but not necessarily experiences of EVERY school I've worked in):

            Ofsted Inspections (where you get several days warning, once every few years or so, for an hour of someone watching you do your job, and writing one sentence on it in the school's report). I have seen teachers (even men) break down and cry, be prescribed tranquilisers etc. during Ofsted ins

            • by RMH101 (636144)
              From TFA: "the move has enraged teaching unions who have labelled the scheme "intrusive" and "unnecessary"

              "Under national guidelines, teachers can be monitored only three hours a year following complaints that excessive monitoring was putting them off.
              Dr Mary Bousted, head of the ATL teaching union, said she had "major reservations" about the technology being used to monitor staff.
              She said: "It would be hard to see how teachers or support staff will behave naturally if they are being monitored. They a
        • by kabocox (199019)

          I was asked to design and build systems to do just this too, because I could CCTV up a room cheaper than their suppliers. I built one to cover the ICT office which *we* turned on and off overnight or during the holidays to help spot where our laptops were disappearing to, and had no further part in anything else. Not only does it exist - it is happening, it is accepted and it's not being questioned by ANYONE, staff, students, parents, heads, local authorities, etc. even when they are made aware of it. That'

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      You are now RELIANT on that system being accurate to safely evacuate the building in an emergency.

      Using any sort of register for this purpose, is a great idea for an office with 20 people and one front door. Anybody with an ounce of practicality should be able to see that applying this to a situation with thousands of students and hundreds of staff moving around multiple buildings is going to result in firefighters chasing false positives in building "A" while false negatives are trapped in building "B".

      If a school building is on fire during the working day, you have to assume that someone might be in

      • by ledow (319597)

        I assure you, every fire drill, every fire visit and every actual fire, the registers are the FIRST things checked in a school situation. Fire inspectors are usually very hot (forgive the pun) on it in schools - my last school were rebuked for not having a register of temporary staff (of which I was one and had complained incessantly about it), so even the in-for-an-hour book-readers were made to sign in and out on a physical piece of paper that was collected for every drill afterwards. The fire services

    • You WILL get students with photocopies of their friend's faces (and/or other similarly low-tech solutions to allow the automated system to recognise and register them) in order to get out of lessons, lectures, etc. that they are made to attend.

      (any identical twins go to that college, or even just two people who look alike?), potentially discriminatory (What if someone's face isn't recognised? What if they have disfigurement? What if they deliberately obscure their face or object to the system? Do you allow a bypass to that system for them?).

      ... that it is a great testbed for determining the flaws of the system and fine-tune it against deliberate ways of obscuring one's face or missidentification due to either deliberate attempts to present oneself as someone else or accidentally through changes in facial structure due to puberty?

      What better group to test your system on then a bunch of teenagers.
      They ARE smarter than anyone else anyway (or so they think) and it is in their nature to go against the system and find a way to "play it".
      Plus their f

  • For the watchful... (Score:2, Informative)

    by yibble (68787)

    Great, so we now have a picture of the student demoing the machine, and her PIN (6447). What did we learn today?

  • Brilliant! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:33AM (#27089257)

    "UK School Introduces Facial Recognition"

    This is very good progress. It is important to keep up with the development of various sexual perversions in our modern fast-paced society. Therefore, recognizing facials as a new part of the curriculum of sexual education in schools is a good thing, even if only in one school in the UK for now. But it is a start, and hopefully facials are recognized soon in every school. It is about time to introduce the recognition of facials!

  • CCTV in schools (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:34AM (#27089261) Homepage Journal

    There are also reports of schools installing CCTV cameras in UK classrooms to monitor both teachers and pupils. Very depressing stuff, that this is even considered, let alone allowed to go on.

    All I can say is, I'm glad I went to school 10+ years ago. I wouldn't want to learn in such an invasive environment. It's disgusting, and those who think it's appropriate should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    • Re:CCTV in schools (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BSAtHome (455370) on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:49AM (#27089361)

      And there is no money to renovate the buildings or hire more/better qualified personnel. But, there is money for tech to watch^H^H^H^H^Hspy. Says something about the priorities nowadays...

    • There are also reports of schools installing CCTV cameras in UK classrooms to monitor both teachers and pupils. Very depressing stuff, that this is even considered, let alone allowed to go on.

      All I can say is, I'm glad I went to school 10+ years ago. I wouldn't want to learn in such an invasive environment. It's disgusting, and those who think it's appropriate should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

      It seems to me that the UK is becoming a bigger surveillance society than East Germany was.

    • Check this out: high def, remote controllable cameras and microphones in the classroom, with the head teacher monitoring teachers' every move. The teachers have an earpiece where they get instant criticism of their teaching methods, live. Sound like job satisfaction to you? You couldn't make it up:
      http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/education/s/1100128_class_cctv_comes_under_fire [manchester...news.co.uk]
    • In the last school I Tech'd at, there were CCTV cameras in the ICT suites. There were issues regarding students damaging property on a daily basis. This stopped it overnight.

      You also have no idea how effective it is to assist parents in disciplining unruly children when they are faced with a video recording of them starting a fight. It empowers them beyond any backlash the child may have. Sometimes these systems are beneficial. You should stop making sweeping judgements.
    • by AndyboyH (837116)

      At one of the schools my fiancee did supply work at, they had CCTV in the staff room. Not because they were worried about the staff's behavior - but because in the past few years several students had went into the staff room to assault the teachers.

      The students didn't want to be there, and had very little intention of doing anything after leaving school except working the dole system for their own gain.

    • by Xest (935314)

      Quite a lot of schools have CCTV, out of the 171 I used to support I'd say around 95% had some CCTV and around 60% extended it into classrooms rather than just as a security tool. This was a couple of years back and I can't imagine the situation has improved.

      There's an argument for CCTV, it's certainly one of the lesser issues in schools- I'd be more concerned about the ID cards some schools force students to have to be able to go to the toilet and that come with RFID tracking capabilites. Fingerprinting is

  • How good to know that our tax money is spent in schools for things that benefit the education of our children! I think they should also introduce retina scans and millimeter wave scanners. That'll make all the difference at the next PISA test.
    • by Xest (935314)

      I've been to schools that have had boxes of thousands upon thousands of pounds worth of software sat in not being used because the teachers didn't have time to install it all and couldn't afford to pay for technical time to get it installed (because they'd spent their IT money on the software).

      I don't have a problem with the teachers not having time to install it, but I do have a problem with them buying it all in the first place knowing full well they wouldn't have time to install it, or at least not balan

  • by NoNeeeed (157503) <slash@paulle a d e r . c o .uk> on Friday March 06, 2009 @06:39AM (#27089299) Homepage

    "A UK school has quietly introduced..."

    If by "quietly" you mean, "telling everyone about how good it is and getting it in the press" then yes I guess so. Ahem. Did the submitter actually read the article they submitted?

    It's worth RTFA and watching the short little video to see what the system does (I know, this is /. etc).

    This is not some Big Brother style camera system covertly watching the students. This is a box on the wall which the students have to actively use to sign themselves in and out. They have to actively press buttons (well a touch screen) to use it.

    While I am nervous about using biometrics for this sort of thing, the data being collected is exactly the same as would be recorded by the class register, the only difference is that it uses a computer rather than a teacher. Some schools have been using swipe-card systems for a few years, this is just a step up technologically.

    There is a wider argument about the way schools are run, and the creeping use of biometrics, but this is primarily used to see who is in the building if there is a fire, so I'm not really sure that the "OMG, BIG BROTHER!1!!!!1!!" spin is warranted.

    Especially since they have not exactly kept it quiet.

    • by thermian (1267986)

      this is primarily used to see who is in the building if there is a fire, so I'm not really sure that the "OMG, BIG BROTHER!1!!!!1!!" spin is warranted.

      Especially since they have not exactly kept it quiet.

      Any system to be used in the event of a fire *cannot* be optional, or under the control of those subjected to it. Thats a fact, one learned the hard way in the past, that cannot be argued. Give people the option of not doing something, and they won't, at least not always, because 'nothings going to happen'.

    • The issue seems:
      1. that the system can possibly be tricked, meaning you'll have conflicting data
      2. Possible dangers (you walk into the building, but forget to register - a fire breaks out and nobody comes to search for you because the system says you're not there)
      3. that it might not be necessary to have the system in the first place - people are pretty good at face recognition last time I checked

      There is no privacy in school anyway, with teachers watching you all the time... so this is no concern at all.

      • by raynet (51803)

        Also, perhaps the class has too many students if teachers need machines to keep track of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Plunky (929104)

      If by "quietly" you mean, "telling everyone about how good it is and getting it in the press" then yes I guess so. Ahem. Did the submitter actually read the article they submitted?

      There is a difference between 'quietly introduced' and 'announced its launch'

      You can scheme quietly to make something happen that you know will be controversial, then implement it and announce the fait accompli. The amount of objections to cause a deinstallation will be vastly more than the amount of objections needed to prevent i

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by houghi (78078)

      "Quietly introduced" means without consultation before the introduction. It was the introduction that went quietly. Learned that in a school without this stuff and English isn't even my first or second language.

    • by Xest (935314)

      To be fair, based on that this system may actually be better than many swipe card systems, as quite a few schools swipe card systems implement RFID and track kids movements around the school (to see if they're not in lesson, spending too long in the toilets etc.).

      If this simply stores biometrics for the period a child is at a school and is used for nothing else than sign in/sign out then it's certainly less evil than many other schemes in schools.

      There's still a good argument to be had that this is an expen

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      Especially since they have not exactly kept it quiet.

      Keeping something quiet or projecting something to the world has nothing to do with it being "Big Brother" or not.

      In fact, I would worry more about the things that are being projected and accepted by supposedly rational people. Those are the things that scare me.

  • Even with 1000 students, teachers will personally know the pupils soon enough.

    When I was still in school, and you didn't show up, the teachers found out soon enough. The
    system seemed unbeatable.

    You might be able to fool a computer, but people (teachers) are very good at finding out who is in class, and who is not. Also, people are better at face recognition than any computer.

    Are pupils really just a number in that school?

  • I've read somewhere that UK financial situation is quite bad recently (similar to Iceland).
    Any chance they'll bankrupt and cut founds to such silly projects?

    • by RMH101 (636144)
      Um, no. The *world* economy is in the toilet. The UK is arguably in a similar state to the US: it's not comparable to Iceland.
      Besides, look at history: when did a recession last breed peace and freedom?
  • Sixth-formers will now have their faces scanned as they arrive in the morning at the City of Ely Community College. Face Register uses the latest high-tech gadgets to register students in and out of school in just 1.5 seconds.

    Erm... what problem is being solved by this?

    If you want to know whether the kids are in class, as opposed to in school, you have to look in every classroom. Except that it doesn't really work; you have to look where the students are supposed to be, which the system may not know (or be able to adapt to).

    Is it fire safety and evacuation? So you have one of these machines at every exit, and it can perfectly well identify everyone in a screaming running horde of people?

    It doesn't seem to solve any useful problem. Does anyone know what it's intended to accomplish, and whether it actually accomplishes anything?

  • "Only today (Thursday, 05 March) we had a fire alarm test and the administration staff were able to quickly and effectively print data off from the system showing who was on site." You gotta say it's lucky that there wasn't a fire in the server room. I can just imagine getting a tech support call during a fire saying "my printers not working"
  • Get them used to having their faces scanned. Get them used to the state collecting info that way, and storing your appearances anywhere.
    Get them used to being scanned, watched. They'll need it.

    And for heavens sake, ban the "1984" book.

  • by javilon (99157) on Friday March 06, 2009 @07:01AM (#27089431) Homepage

    ...Every time AI researches find a working algorithm for something that the human mind does, the ability coded on that algorithm stops being thought of as "Intelligence" and becomes "just a calculation that any computer can do".

    So I guess pattern recognition in images is not AI anymore, right?

    • Yup. You absolutely cannot get funding for anything called "artificial intelligence". I think that's right, too - it's too broad a term to be meaningful. It's OK as an umbrella term for related(ish) areas of study, but when it comes down to getting a bank loan (or VC cash) you need something a little more specific.

  • Next they'll probably follow the lead of a Swedish school that use fingerprint scanners in the canteen as a method of avoiding non-students freeloading. Amazingly since they first introduced this at the school in 1997 only 10 students have refused fingerprinting.
    http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_1673627.svd [www.svd.se] (Swedish article)
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday March 06, 2009 @07:08AM (#27089475)

    I can sign my name in 1.5 seconds, and type it even faster.

    I can depress my thumb onto a (now 2 decade old) biometric reader for the same result in the same amount of time.

    This is an excellent example of stupidly wasted money.

    Heck, even if its tied to stimulus spending, the new deal wasn't just about putting people to work, but putting people to work building infrastructure which would improve the efficiency and cut the costs to businesses in the long term.

    This does not do either.

    If it's not tied to stimulus spending this school should be chastised for buying this expensive system in a time when a few more jobs would be more valuable to the community.

  • Some of those kids are going to get into a schoolyard brawl and have to be excused for the next week until their black eyes recede sufficiently for the system to let them in again. :P

  • I had a teacher in one subject for five years, who didn't ever get to know my name. There were only 20-ish in the class (one lesson a day, 5 days a week). I *did* attend the classes, just sat there keeping quiet, never volunteering anything or rocking the boat.

    Makes you wonder about the amount of attention some of these people have.....

  • Using face recognition like this is a substitute for human attention. Ideally in a school, teachers and other staff should recognize you and know your name, and notice if you are absent. It is about people actually communicating with and caring for each other. This system in the school sounds more like a prison surveillance system, used in an environment where trust cannot be built.
    • I'm not sure about the school in question, but my high school (here in America) had more than 3000 students. There was simply no way for the staff to know every student, so we had to show an ID card to enter and leave the building (the cards had out lunch period printed on them, so we couldn't leave during class hours). I do not see how facial recognition is any better than the ID card system at my school, but I can understand why school administrators need to use a system (when it involves humans or mach

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." -- Dr. Seuss

Working...