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Biometric recognition systems may be just what God had in mind

The easiest thing for a kid to keep track of is his or her fingerprint — something that is always at arm’s length.

By Mike Trader

Most people attend church events and services to identify with God, not with their fingerprint. But as new technology progresses and the pace of the world quickens, many “pen and paper” check-in methods have become obsolete, tossed aside as cumbersome and inefficient. In fact, using old check-in systems could be costing you money and lowering the safety of those participating in your church programs.

Biometric technology eliminates ID cards, safeguards members and children, prevents identity fraud, and offers a more convenient user experience. For faith-based organizations, these benefits can translate into better accuracy records, increased event participation and lower overhead costs.

Churches and schools can derive even greater value from biometric technology when it’s interfaced with third-party information management software, such as PeopleSuite or HeadMaster from ACS Technologies. Since 1978, these software products have helped to manage and organize church members, record attendance, take reservations, and much more. When interfaced with M2SYS’ Bio-SnapON biometric software, ACS customers can quickly and effectively retrieve member information with the swift scan of a finger while facilitating a faster check-in process.

Fingerprint always handy

With no numbers to memorize, or name tags and security cards to remember, only a quick scan stands between younger congregation members and fun-filled activities.

Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, IL is an example of one of the many successful implementations of biometric fingerprint technology for church member management. With 600 to 800 children checking in for events each weekend, five self-service kiosks, and thousands of adults who are attending services, it is easy to see why biometric was a clear choice.

For eight years Northwoods used a paper card system where each child was issued a name tag that matched a parent’s security card. These cards would frequently get lost or forgotten, forcing the church to constantly replace the tags. The new biometric system has streamlined their check-in process and grants them a fast and secure way of looking up parent records during church services. Jason Lee, the information technology director at Northwoods says, “Biometric scanning is very fast and efficient for check-in. We don’t have to worry about parents leaving their security cards at home or in the car.”

Using the biometrics system, parents simply place their finger on a fingerprint reader. Their fingerprint quickly retrieves the family profile that is stored in the church’s software, which prints parent and child security badges for that session. The biometric system uses a mathematical representation of the fingerprint called an “identity template” to perform its comparisons and does not store an actual image. Since the image cannot be reconstructed from the stored template, there is no privacy risk.

Anyone can do it

Although words and phrases like biometrics and fingerprint recognition software may sound a bit intimidating, the process can be completed by virtually anyone.

It can be easily used to replace any existing barcode scanner or name/password login procedure. “Sending screen shots of several scans to M2SYS has helped us learn to capture better scans during pre-registration, which has made the process work smoothly,” Lee says.

Securing children and expediting the check-in process isn’t the only benefit from the use of fingerprint technology. Tracking adults and staff is a breeze, and other transactions are conducted easily and securely. Northwoods Community is expanding the use of biometric scanning to the school teams for check-in at their events.

If you can operate a computer, you can use a biometric recognition system. Biometric technology has made everyday life easier; now only a fingerprint stands between your church members and more efficient service. They have used this innovative solution to replace ID cards, save money, and create a more enjoyable experience for church-goers.

Mike Trader is president of M2SYS Technology, Atlanta, GA, a company in biometric identity management technology. [www.m2sys.com]

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