Catholic parents concerned by school spy cameras

Eye-scanning cameras may replace rollcall at NSW schools if a trial of the high-tech machines is successful.

The iris-recognition cameras, similar to those used in jails and airports, are being trailed in three NSW schools.

They have already been installed at Lidcombe TAFE, where students entering the high-security photonics laboratory are required to look into the cameras to be allowed into the laboratory.

Schools have shown interest in using the scanners to record student attendance, taking the roll in the morning and monitoring truancy.

A camera in the device photographs the iris. The photo data is then transmitted to a central database to find a match. For a school of 1000 students, the average cost of using the technology is about $5 a student a term.

The security company conducting the trials, Argus Solutions, says the technology is more advanced and accurate than DNA matching.

"It's not invasive and is non-threatening," chief executive Bruce Lyman said.

"The cameras are set up at a point in the school that is as close to the front gate as possible. Students scan at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day."

Parents' reaction to the new technology was expected to be mixed, the Council of Catholic School Parents' executive director Danielle Cronin said.

"It's great for security," Ms Cronin said. "The flipside is that there are issues of privacy and dignity with the children being passed through gates like cattle."

Look into my iris for rollcall (Sydney Morning Herald 13/3/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Council of Catholic School Parents

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13 Mar 2006