Tracking Kids, Without Parental OK

School districts in California get some of their funding based on student attendance. So, it makes sense a school would want to gather accurate information. And, since schools are always short on cash, a donation to the school to test a new technology to monitor attendance seems reasonable. Brittan Elementary School District took up an offer from InCom to have its students wear RFID based “ID tags.” Sensors are placed over doorways to classrooms and the data is beamed to teacher’s PDAs. There were sensors of the bathrooms, too, but they’ve been removed.

While there appear to have been some measure of public discourse before the trial of the system began, a number of parents have pulled their children from the testing and are furious the school would allow such a thing. The company’s technology, interestingly, was designed by two California teachers.

The interesting twist to this story, featured in Wired is that the system can track those without tags, that is, “intruders.” I suppose that means when someone walks under a doorway the sensor can “see them” and then “looks for” an RFID tag? If none is found, then what? An alarm goes off somewhere?

The company website is pretty thin and does not mention how “intruders” are found.  I suppose if all publicity is good publicity, the company should be fairly happy. The outrage certainly does reflect the current feelings about RFID for many people worldwide.

Update (2/17): It seems InCom has pulled out of the trial.


Published Thursday, February 10th, 2005

Written by Adena Schutzberg