3 Ways Churches Can Use Biometrics to Increase Security

biometrics helps increase the security of church management software

By the Book’s mission is to bring the best possible church software solutions to those they serve.

The following guest post was submitted by Kim Conley with By The Book Inc., a church software company based in Byron, IL.

As churches are looking for ways to improve the security of their children’s ministry area, many are turning to biometric solutions. Fingerprint or finger vein scanners can be used in a variety of ways to identify children who are present, people who are authorized to check a student out, and individuals that are allowed entry into certain areas of the building.

Child Check In Software

Many churches utilize check in systems to record that a student has arrived for Sunday school, VBS, Awanas, or other events. The first step in utilizing this type of software is to identify the student that is present to check in. This can be done in a variety of ways. The typical options include typing in a last name, entering a phone number, scanning a bar code, or using a fingerprint or finger vein scan. Although all these options work … a biometric solution offers several advantages. These include:

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Why Integrate Biometrics with Membership Management Software?

Biometric-Membership-Management

Membership management based organizations are moving to biometrics for member identification due to its convenience, affordability, and security features.

If you operate a membership based organization such as a gym, church, or library, it is very difficult to make it profitable and efficient without utilizing modern technology. Manual membership management systems based on pen and paper or ID card systems have become outdated due to their maintenance costs and inefficiencies. On top of that, the possibility of security breaches has aided membership-based organizations to deploy safer and more effective alternatives – most notably the use of biometrics for identification with membership management software. Continue reading →

You Can’t Leave Your Fingers at Home

ACS church management software check-in with the M2-EasyScan Reader

Please enjoy this guest blog post from ACS Technologies, a M2SYS partner who provides excellence in information management solutions for the faith-based community.

This post was written by Eleanor Pierce, Communications Strategist at ACS Technologies.  A link to the ACS Community Blog page can be found here.

 

 

 

Imagine the rush of people at check-in before church services on a Sunday morning. Hundreds of families, all trying to move through the process as quickly as possible so they’re not the one trying to sneak in after the sermon has already started. Today’s churches are looking for anything that can a) speed the process of checking kids in and b) assure the security of kids and c) create accurate attendance records and pickup lists.

Checking-in 350 kids in 10 minutes

Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Ill., checks in about 800 kids every weekend, between its four services at two different campuses.

“For our 11 o’clock service, it’s probably close to 350,” said Jason Lee, Information Technology Director at the church. “We’re trying to process that many children in, let’s say a 10 minute window.” Creating a smooth check-in experience isn’t optional, it’s necessary.

“People don’t come early just to check in. We needed to create something that accommodates the attendees, because we could say sure, we’ll just put in one kiosk, but you’ve got to come 30 minutes early to church to check in,” Jason said—but of course, that approach wouldn’t won’t work for the attendees.

That’s why Northwoods has several self-check-in stations that use biometric technology. There’s a guest services desk for those who are not yet in the church’s database, or those who have brought a child that’s a guest, perhaps a cousin or neighbor. For those who are already entered in the system, there are stations where parents can check-in their kids quickly and easily, using a biometric scanner.

The preregistration requirement allows the Northwoods staff to be sure they know the kids who are being checked in and to assure that parents have signed any release forms. Once the paperwork has been handled, staff help parents pre-scan their finger so that they’re entered into the M2SYS system.

Returning parents who have been entered into the system can check-in at an express kiosk. “They walk up, scan their finger, and then it comes up and displays all the children in their family that can be checked in,” Jason explained.

Using the finger scanner with parents instead of the kids assures that parents are actually dropping their kids off in person, rather than just pulling up their cars out front and letting their child come inside alone.  While it might save a parent time, Northwoods doesn’t like the safety issues for kids younger than 5th grade.

One key benefit to biometric scanners is that there’s no way to forget what you need to check in.

“You could use a barcode, any sort of RFID, but you can forget those at home,” Jason said, “But it’s pretty challenging to forget your fingers unless you get in a fight with a lawnmower.”

Midwest dry skin = tough-to-capture fingerprints

Northwoods initially used a fingerprint scanner, but tough Midwestern weather means that there can be problems getting a good fingerprint. One problem is that cold winters and dry air can make fingerprints difficult to capture. Also, people who work outside and have calloused hands just might not have a good fingerprint at all. For that reason, Northwoods is in the process of transitioning to finger vein scanners for all check-in. They’ve already begun using the new scanners at one of their satellite campuses, and they’re getting ready to move the 1,500 parents who have been entered into their system using finger prints to re-scan using finger veins.

“The scanners are easier to use, the technology is not environmentally dependent, and it’s very accurate,” Jason said. While testing the machines with his own hand, he tried to create an error.

“I tried to get my finger to scan wrong, and unless I turned my finger sideways, it worked,” he said.

A real partnership

One aspect he’s been very happy with is the working relationship between ACS Technologies and M2SYS. Northwoods uses M2SYS in conjunction with its ACS Technolgies check-in software. It’s a totally integrated system that helps the church keep track of the families that attend the chuch.

“It’s nice to have a partner. That ACS Technologies said M2SYS is good, go work with them, and it’s not some just random third party that we’ve picked up off the shelf, that’s key for us; knowing that we have the support and backing of ACS Technologies and that they have the backing and support of M2SYS.”

Jason Lee also writes a blog called “Bytes about bits in church IT”

The Guardian of Your Church

M2SYS is proud of the Partnerships that we have forged with Software Integrators throughout many different vertical markets we serve. Moving forward, we will periodically ask our Partners to contribute guest blog posts in their area of expertise, continuing our commitment to offer readers quality content that educates and entertains.

Please enjoy this guest blog post from Shelby Systems, who exists to supply the information technology tools needed to help ministries and organizations around the world thrive.

This post was written by Colleen Hogue, the Marketing Coordinator and main blog writer for Shelby Systems, Inc.


 

Even though safety is a growing issue in everyday life, it is still a wonder to many why increased security in churches would even be necessary.

So why AM I writing a blog post about security in a church?

Easy.

Churches are built to house good intentions, but there are still risks that turn into real life problems if nothing is done to prevent them.  Biometric technology is one of those new and innovative inventions that works to solve the problem of ineffective security in your church.

Biometric technology can connect with your church’s software and is a quick way to run background checks on people who work with your ministry.  You can never be too safe, and preventing the wrong people from working or volunteering at your church can be the greatest security you have, especially when it is protecting your nurseries.

Biometric technology also works to facilitate fast and easy check-in for members and visitors.  Just have your congregation/staff members scan their fingerprint, finger vein or palm vein upon arrival and the system will immediately identify the person.  The attendance from that day will be stored and organized in your church software.

If you are worried about individual privacy violations by using biometrics, you can rest assured that no biometric images are ever stored on your server or computer and it is nearly impossible to reverse engineer data that is used to positively identify an individual and successfully “steal” their biometric identity.

With instant scanning capabilities, biometric technology eliminates the need for passwords, barcode readers, and ID Cards.  It offers a more convenient staff and user experience, helps with tracking attendance and works to safeguard members and staff.

Check out www.shelbyinc.com/fingerprintscanning today to find out how to add biometrics to your ministry!