Brittan Elementary School has required grade school students to wear radio frequency identification, an automatic way of identification that rely on stored and remotely retrieved data. InCom Corporation1 is the developer of the RFID tags that automates taking of attendance, security and reporting system. The ID system was introduced in 2005, and since then, each Brittan student had to wear ID cards with their pictures, names, and grade level.
Each teacher was given handheld computers that can detect the signals coming from the transmitters on each student identification cards. Brittan Elementary implemented the use of RFID without consulting the parents in order to simplify attendance monitoring, enhance student safety, and possibly lower incidence of vandalism. InCom pulled out the RFID devices after some parents succeeded in their petition to end the program. Issues Brittan Elementary imposed the RFID system without getting the children’s parents’ input.
As a result, there were conflicting reactions to the system. While some approved and saw the benefits and advantages of the device, many parents looked at the system with distrust. The anti-RFID parents believed the system to violate their children’s privacy, and to hold possible health risks. On the other hand, the pro-RFID parents said that those against the technology simply did not understand it. They argued that the parents’ fear against RFID stemmed from their inability to properly understand the technology. _________________________________________
1. InCom Corporation Home Page. Available from htt://www. incomcorporation. com/ RFID 2 Alternatives/Propositions To solve the problem, there are some course of actions that the parents and the school can follow: i) go back to the manual checking of attendance; ii) the school and parents can engage in talks together with the manufacturer to discuss modifications and get the parents’ input; or iii) the school will ask for a reconsideration of the decision favoring the parents’ request to halt the implementation of the RFID system.
Decision and Recommendation InCom and school supervisors and teachers should follow the second alternative. They hold talks with parents in order to arrive at a compromise. The parents are afraid that their children’s privacy will be violated and they’re also concerned for the effect of the radiowave signals on the health of the kids. The manufacturer should provide parents the facts surrounding the implementation of the technology, including its benefits and weaknesses.
In turn, the manufacturer and the school personnel should also hear the parents and reassure them by providing factual evidence. The parents should also suggest modifications or alternatives. At the end of the talks, the parents’ association should have a singular, majority choice regarding the matter. If the choice is against the RFID system, the school has to accept that decision. If the decision if favorable, the school and InCom should work hand and hand with parents in the implementation of the system. RFID 3
Implementation As a start, the school personnel should call all parents for a general assembly to hold initial talks regarding their fears, stand, opinion, and suggestions about the RFID system. Once these are identified, the school personnel can then asked InCom representatives to talk to the parents. They could also invite other experts on the field to provide additional information. Once the information and open discussion forums are completed, a voting among the parents should be done to get a consensus.
After that, the decision will be presented to the school. The school’s next action will be based on the submitted decision from the parents. Evaluation In order to ensure that that talks between parents and the school personnel will be properly handled, it might be a good idea to invite a mediator, a third party observer who is neutral and could help smoothen out arguments. If a modified RFID program will be implemented, I’m sure that parents won’t have objections any longer given the fact that they were included in the decision-making part.
InCom Corporation Home Page. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from http://www. incomcorporation. com/ Landt, J. & Catlin, B. (2001). The Shrouds of Time. The Association for Automatic Identification and Data Capture Technologies. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from http://www. transcore. com/pdf/AIM%20shrouds_of_time. pdf Shih, D. Radio Frequency Identification. Retrieved February 22, 2008, from http://web. ecs. baylor. edu/faculty/newberry/myweb/Ethics/Web%20Pages/Shih%20test/rfid_controversy. htm