Biometric Identification has an increasingly important part to play in business security. In fact, you can find it being deployed in many workplaces throughout Ireland nowadays to establish the identities of individuals. Okay, biometric identification may sound futuristic but the fact is that you have probably used it in some way recently. What are the commercial benefits of using this type of technology to identify people in terms of time and attendance management? Read on to find out but right now it will be helpful to gain a better understanding of what is meant by the term biometrics.
A Definition of Biometrics
Biometric identification relies upon the physical characteristics or behavioural traits of individuals to identify them. Importantly, biometric technology does this automatically without the need for human intervention. Various forms of biometric identification can be used, such as the aforementioned fingerprint reading technology. Others include iris and retinal scanning, voice recognition systems as well as face and hand identification.
The word biometric itself is a blend of biology and metric. That is to say, statistical data is taken by a scanning technology that creates a computerised model – or metric – of an individual. What is being scanned is some aspect of a person’s biology that is unique to them, whether it’s their retina, fingerprint or whatever else. As such, once the statistical model is stored securely for a person, they can subsequently be identified when they are physically present and scanned.
Importantly, biometric identification works because some physical traits, such as fingerprints, are relatively unchanging. What’s more, they’re unique to each and every one of us, even among closely related individuals such as twins and triplets. So, biometrics can be used over a long period of time without the need to rescan data every few years and it can be deployed to distinguish one person from anyone else in the world, even if they were disguised.
How Does Workplace Biometric Technology Work?
Biometric solutions can sound like a time-consuming and expensive way of running a time and attendance system, but they are often cheaper and simpler to roll out than you might expect. In fact, it boils down to a three-step process.
- Staff registration
For a biometric time and attendance system to work, all members of staff will need to be registered on the system with an initial scan. Employees will need to have a fingerprint scanned, for instance, and for this digitised record to be associated with their basic information on the system, for example, their name or employee number. Subsequent scans will, therefore, be able to identify the biological metrics concerned as relating to that individual.
- Secure biometric data storage
Biometric data should be kept secure so any time and attendance solution that relies on it must ensure that such information is kept private, perhaps by encrypting it so that it cannot be read or used outside of the system to identify individuals.
- Making matches
The system will then use biometric scans to identify people when they ‘clock in’ or ‘clock out’ of an area or when they’re using certain equipment. This is like a digital version of a punch card that managers can use to assess who is where and when. Unlike a punch card system, however, it is virtually impossible to cheat a biometric system. Fingerprint scans are the most popular form of making such matches these days and over half of the world’s organisations now use this sort of technology in some form.
What Else Are Workplace Biometrics Used For?
As mentioned, biometric identification software is increasingly used for time and attendance management. However, that is not the only use for identification software in the workplace today. Physical identification software also has a role to play with IT systems, too, specifically with security management among employees.
The first way this can work is to control who can log onto company-owned devices. If someone without a scanned fingerprint tries to access a business laptop, for example, then they’ll be denied access. Biometric authentication means that PINs and passwords are no longer needed, helping to make logging on a speedier process while augmenting company security. Biometrics access controls can also be deployed as a multi-factor authentication system that works alongside passwords, for example.
In addition, giving access permissions to certain files or datasets can be controlled using biometrics. This would work when only certain employees have access to things like customer records or financial data, for example. Managers can use biometrics access systems to award or rescind data access rights. Furthermore, this sort of tiered access can also be used in the physical realm by controlling who can pass through certain doors or go into certain rooms where specialist equipment may be housed, as well.
Biometric Identification For Absence Monitoring and Time and Attendance Management
With a biometric system in place, companies can better manage the time and attendance data they collect on their employees. This is ideal for all business models, whether they run shift patterns, have staff members working from home – or in the field – or have all of their employees on their business premises during normal office hours. Please note that biometrics can be deployed not just to automate records on employee attendance and working hours but absences, too. If someone is absent due to sickness, then they cannot later claim they were, in fact, at work on the day in question if their manager or supervisor failed to record the absence at the time. This method helps to cut down on human error as well as deceit in the workplace surrounding absences, authorised or otherwise.
In the end, biometrics in time and attendance software systems help to ensure that employees are only rewarded for the actual hours they put in. Numerous Irish businesses now take advantage of the accuracy and greater operational efficiency such systems afford. Other approaches used to monitor employee time and attendance are more open to errors and abuse.
What Are the Benefits of Biometrics in Time and Attendance Systems?
A biometric system used to monitor time and attendance at a place of work will mean several advantages are gained over alternative methods. Firstly, so-called buddy punching whereby one employee punches in for another will be done away with. This may be a fraudulent practice but it is widespread in many sectors of the economy. You can learn more about buddy punching and what to do about it here.
Secondly, using things like fingerprint access control intelligently should lead to increased productivity. This is because there are no delays or queues to register when someone has arrived for work or returned from their break period. Biometric data can be scanned rapidly, after all. Equally, fewer people are needed to manage such systems and to input manually collected data since it is automated. Again, this should lead to an upturn in productivity.
Furthermore, a biometric solution will mean that keys, fobs and cards are no longer essential for controlling physical access. This means you won’t need to pay for new ones when new employees are taken on or when they’ve been lost by members of staff. Overall, however, cost savings are made because biometrical data helps to increase employee accountability. Employees have to show they are where they say they are, logged into the systems they should be and so on. As such, their productivity should rise. If employees shirk their responsibilities, then managers will have the fingerprint time and attendance data they need to take the necessary steps to improve productivity including, of course, the ability to fire those who fail to deliver repeatedly.
Secure biometric systems should offer a solution to time and attendance management needs that are both GDPR compliant and trusted by the employees who use them to remain secure. They should also cut down on manual administration by automating processes successfully. More and more forward-thinking businesses see them as saving both time and money while offering them greater security from external and internal threats. Why not contact Advance Systems today to find out more or book a demo?