West Cheshire College tries electronic badges for location, access

College staff and students have been issued with compulsory electronic badges that are capable of tracking their movements, leading to criticism of “Orwellian” tactics.

The devices can track wearers within 10 feet, but managers at West Cheshire College have denied they will be used for “Big Brother” surveillance.

The vocational college, which has one campus in Ellesmere Port and another in Chester, serves about 2,500 full time students and 5,000 part-timers. Most are teenagers. Only staff and full-time ‘learners’, as they are called, are required to have the badges.

Kevin Francis, the college’s building services manager, said the aim was to provide automatic registration and improve use of the estate. Students must wear them to register and to be able to access different areas…”We are interested in teaching and learning, building use and the security of students and staff. We’re not Big Brother…”

Although Mr Francis said that location information would be anonymised, it can be individualised too. Staff with first aid training can be identified if needed in an emergency, he stated.

However, he said he was “confident” that the data “couldn’t be used maliciously…We are not allowed to do anything with data that we have not been upfront about.”

No staff or student representatives had complained about them during prior discussions, he added.

So far the complaints are of the “what-if” variety. RTFA if you want to see them.

I have a habit of not condemning technology and science out of hand just because it offers the capability of misuse and abuse. Human beings have always been able to pervert hardware. The fearfull need to keep on eye on the human beings running the school – not so much the gear.

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One comment

  1. moss

    The what-ifs mean as usual you should keep an eye on the folks in charge.

    Otherwise, the use of such badges for access control is commonplace. Is it necessary?

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