British schools launch facial recognition to pay for meals

Despite the fact that there is no consensus in the British society about the feasibility of widespread introduction of face recognition, schools in the UK intend to use this technology to pay students for meals.

Council of Europe

Council of Europe

It became known that in North Ayrshire, Scotland, nine schools will begin using facial recognition to process lunch payments. The arguments for making such a decision were called the fact that payment is made in a contactless way, and this will increase the safety of students against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid pandemic, as well as the fact that transactions will be significantly accelerated.

“In high school, we have about 25 minutes to serve potentially 1,000 students. Therefore, we need high throughput at the points of sale ”, – David Swanston, managing director of CRB Cunninghams, which installed face recognition systems, told the Financial Times. According to him, the system can reduce the average transaction time when paying for lunch to about five seconds per student.

This is far from the first time biometric systems have been used in schools in the UK (some are already using fingerprinting technology), but North Ayrshire will be using facial recognition for the first time, which is believed to be a potentially more serious privacy threat. However, Swanston noted that technology will be used that is not “live” recognition, as it does not rely on an online database. Instead, the system checks faces against an encrypted database of face templates stored on servers in schools.

The vast majority of parents and students (97%) agreed to launch the recognition system, although some parents expressed concern that students were not provided with enough information to make an informed decision. They also suspect peer pressure may have played a role for some of the students.

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Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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