Work Matters: Management focus - Take a print

A foolproof form of nursery access security employs something that all its users carry around with them. Karen Faux reports.

Winnie's World in Aberdeen is one of the first nurseries in Scotland to invest in a high-tech fingerprint scanner to maximise security on its premises. The scanner was supplied by manfuacturer UK Biometrics and cost just over £4,000.

Pre-school supervisor Wendy Cowrie says, 'Prior to this we had a number code entry system, but we were concerned this could be given out and there was the ongoing problem of parents forgetting what the number was.

'The scanner sits just outside our entrance and it only takes a second for a visitor to have their fingerprint scanned. Although it is quite expensive, we feel it is a quick and efficient way to monitor who is coming in and out.

Ms Cowrie emphasises that the children's fingerprints are not registered on the system. 'Their prints are changing and are too immature to be recognised by the system,' she says. 'It does not store the adults' actual prints but creates a string of numbers which link to it, and stores this information.'

The popularity of biometric systems is growing in the nursery sector. In its Safe and Sound report, Ofsted gave special mention to them, praising the fact that they allow parents to enter premises without bothering staff or distracting them from caring for the children.

UK Biometrics has just placed scanners in ten Busy Bees nurseries as part of the chain's continuing roll-out.

Operations director Shaun Oakes says, 'Staff and parents are registered once and thereafter simply press their finger on a scanner to gain access. The problems associated with lost keys, fobs or swipe cards are history. There are no PINs to pass on or be copied, and the system cannot be hacked.'

He adds, 'Increasingly, nursery owners are seeing the benefit of linking their biometric access system to time and attendance software. The exact time a member of staff arrives at work and leaves at the end of the day is recorded and can automatically feed into payroll systems. Management knows exactly who has been where, and when they have been there.'

A single biometric five-lever FP100 door lock costs around £299, while a typical nursery system with data download would be a networked KF2000 system installed for around £2,500.The company also provides leasing deals which can cost from £2.50 a day.

Further information: www.ukbiometrics.co.uk.

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