My long lost friend asked me last week about my job. I told her that I’m in fingerprint business for attendance and door access. She was surprised to know that taking attendance could be a thriving business. Working as a high-school teacher, taking attendance comes naturally; they can even do it subconsciously! Every teacher in Malaysia has to prepare an attendance book for students. Students names must be handwritten in black ink and capital letters only, and the taking of attendance has to be done manually, in other words, Teacher shouts -- “so and so, are you there?” student answer -- “yes/no, teacher”. After sometimes, the teachers need to submit some kind of attendance reports to the principal. I’m not sure whether the report also must be handwritten in black ink and in caps but they do need to submit some kind of report to the principal. I feel for the teachers who have to do a lot of work for attendance taking and perhaps a lot of answering when the attendance reports showing a lot of absences. On top of the overwhelming workload, what’s with the handwriting only?
Cleverly, I suggested to her the use of biometrics system to only receive the biggest laugh of all time. “Why do you think the government would want to spend money on biometrics system when they can use every biometrics in our body to take students’ attendance, literally for free” she asked me. Of course, she said it jokingly. But again, what’s so funny about automating attendance to monitor student’s attendance? Perhaps it would cost a fortune, perhaps that would mean a colossal change to the system, perhaps it’s easier said than done but logically speaking, biometrics is an effective way to take attendance. We have been in the business of attendance since 10 years ago and the demand (for attendance system) is escalating every year. The reason for the business world is simple. Your time is my money. But even more than that, automated attendance is indeed automated. No more manual work, no more writing attendance in Capital letters, no more counting days of absence, no more burden or work in that area. And at the end of the month, reports can be printed with precise data and information.
I can’t simply surrender. I annoyed her more. “The government promotes the use of IT and IT shouldn’t be just a theory, it should be practical. Biometrics is one way to make IT practical. What’s with the old school manual attendance?” Data communication through network is awesome. Distance is not a factor anymore and updates can be obtained in a matter of minutes. “If we could use biometrics as attendance and link the data to text parents the whereabouts of their kids, that would be a breakthrough. That’s the power of IT,” I continued. She looked at me with a smile on her chubby face, “Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, we (teachers) called an electrician to come for some electrical works in the teacher’s room and the service cost was RM60. He had to fill in a few forms, fought with at least two clerks and ended up not getting paid instantly. So, you go figure.” “I’d welcome the system so much but at this point in time, the students have to listen to my biometrics voice”.
When everything else fails..
by Norana Johar, COO, FingerTec HQ