Kingsmeadow Community School in Gateshead, England, is one of the first schools in the UK to introduce Facial Recognition to school mealtimes, going live with the software in September 2020. Kingsmeadow School, which utilises Fusion cashless, iPayimpact online payments and iDStore identity management systems from CRB Cunninghams, chose to enhance its integrated cashless solution with this completely contactless recognition method.
Contactless biometric method
Facial Recognition is a contactless biometric method situated at the PoS. This innovative technology enhances the speed of service and retains the security of fingerprints whilst eliminating the requirement to physically touch a scanner, making school meal purchases completely contactless.
Having utilised fingerprint biometrics for two years prior, Maxine Webb, Business Manager at Kingsmeadow School, explains why they made the crucial switch from fingerprint to Facial Recognition biometrics:
“I thought I was pretty cool with fingerprint recognition, but along came COVID and blew that out of the water. I was looking for something else, and then Facial Recognition came along! COVID didn’t fall perfectly, but Facial Recognition did!”
“If COVID were not around, we would have gotten by with fingerprints; there was nothing wrong with it. But we do have COVID, and Facial Recognition is a great way of getting around that.”
“Facial Recognition is fast! It just works!” - Maxine Webb, Business Manager
Installing the software over the summer period in 2020 meant that Kingsmeadow School pupils were among the first in the UK to integrate Facial Recognition technology into their school meals at the start of the 2020/2021 academic school year.
Maxine stated she had a “perfect” response from pupils, expanding to say, “Honestly, it’s just worked perfectly from day one. The things we were fearful of, such as children, staff, or visitors who wore glasses, would that be an issue? Would identical twins be an issue? Not at all. I can’t believe it, but I’ve had no complaints from pupils, parents, or staff.”
With most pupils now utilising Facial Recognition technology, Kingsmeadow School has seen a considerable increase in their speed of service. “Without a shadow of a doubt, Facial Recognition is faster than fingerprints”, which allows kitchen staff to cater to pupils quickly and safely.
Over 70% of pupils choose Facial Recognition
To remain GDPR compliant, users of Facial Recognition must opt-in to use the technology. CRB Cunninghams advise that schools gain explicit consent for using this technology with a straightforward opt-in process easily managed via the Fusion cashless system. For Kingsmeadow School, this process was simple:
“Most of the consent was already there for fingerprints, so parents did not see an issue opting in for Facial Recognition as another biometric method.”
Maxine went on to say that "Technology is moving along at a fast pace, and our parents weren't surprised by this new technology." The number of users of the new technology reflects this ethos, with a tremendous uptake of over 70% of the pupils opting in to use Facial Recognition.
For pupils who choose to use the software, there are four other recognition methods to choose from within the Fusion cashless system: fingerprints, QR codes, contactless cards, and PINs.
“I think there will be a big move to Facial Recognition, and I’d tell other schools to go for it” - Maxine Webb, Business Manager
Maxine summarises her experience with Facial Recognition by stating: “It’s just worked from day one. Senior leaders at Kingsmeadow were keen to test it out, and from the beginning, there were very few blips. We are really impressed with how the software has performed! Any issues that we thought might be a problem were just not an issue. Everything has been well thought through and easily managed from within the cashless system.”
“The software has been praised by pupils, parents, and catering staff. Facial Recognition is fast and answers the growing need for contactless lunch service within schools.”
In addition to the software, Kingsmeadow School has also been impressed with the overall service from CRB Cunninghams: “the CRB Cunninghams team are very helpful and knowledgeable about the product. The entire process has been seamless.”
The complete contactless solution from one supplier
Kingsmeadow School utilises CRB Cunninghams cashless, online payment, and identity management systems in one integrated package. With multiple benefits of working with one supplier, including reduced support time and faster resolution, Maxine states:
“In my experience, it’s better to have one provider. Why would you not? Why would you have two or three different people if one provider can offer that full service?”
Maxine concludes, “If I’m working with a company, then they must be good. CRB Cunningham's service is great from start to finish, and I would certainly recommend CRB Cunninghams to other schools.”