There’s no doubt that schools and teachers can face significant challenges trying to keep track of hundreds of students and assure their safety while simultaneously teaching them something. (I can personally attest that I was rarely learning something at the same time my teachers knew where I was.) Now AT&T is looking to apply technology to the problem, offering a comprehensive child-tracking solution for the K-12 education market combining RFID and GPS technologies to enable schools to keep track of school bus locations and speed while simultaneously monitoring events within the vehicles.
“Our RFID and MRM services help K-12 institutions rapidly deploy end-to-end solutions without significant capital investment,” said Ann Rotatori, vice president of Business Marketing for AT&T, in a statement. “For the first time, school districts can now turn to a network services provider for all of their RFID and MRM needs, and that enables them to save money, make the most of their assets and resources and enhance student safety.”
AT&T envisions the system being used to track in-school assets like computers, projectors, laptop computers, and lab equipment. But the company is also pitching the technology as a means to track students and people directly, enforcing attendance and tracking visitors on school grounds (including alerting administrators to people in unauthorized areas). The system is designed to tie in with existing 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless networking solutions and display tracking information via a Web-based portal.
Curiously, nowhere in AT&T’s description of the technology does the company mention the privacy rights of students, or any ability for students or parents to opt out of such a system. We imagine the company is leaving such policy decisions up to individual schools and districts.
Of course, kids being the way they are, they will no doubt come up with ways to circumvent in-school and in-bus RFID tracking within a few minutes of the system being deployed. After all, it took my generation about 30 seconds to “acquire” the magical hall passes that let us go anywhere we wanted at any time. We have to assume kids these days are at least as clever.