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KidGopher Uses RFID to Make Sure Only Authorized Adults Pick Up Students

A school district in South Carolina is installing the system to expedite the dismissal process, and to prevent the releasing of children to unauthorized individuals.
By Claire Swedberg
The software stores the transaction so that if another parent or custodian arrives to retrieve a child no longer waiting to go home, the school has a record detailing who performed the pick-up.

CQ Media Networks, developed the KidGopher system about a year ago, according to Neil Willis, the company's CEO, as a tool for preventing child abduction. Development involved visiting numerous schools and reviewing the ways in which children were picked up, as well as how vehicles were routed and how staff members matched adults with children.

Neil Willis, CQ Media Networks' CEO
The system can also work without RFID. In that case, the authorized "gophers" are provided with a personal identification number (PIN) that must be input prior to picking up a student at the first queuing area. However, Willis notes, the process is slower without RFID, since it requires that the gopher roll down the car window, present the card to a staff member and announce his or her PIN, which the worker then keys into a handheld device. CQ Media Networks' PIN-based alternative solution, therefore, is less expensive but more time-consuming per transaction.

CQ Media Networks is currently in the process of developing an RFID-based solution for use on school buses. With such a system, the children, rather than the parents, would carry the RFID tags. In this scenario, each student would be provided with a wristband that could include the school logo, or other printed text or images intended to be fun for children. Embedded in each bracelet would be a passive RFID transponder. Buses would be equipped with RFID readers attached to an articulated arm located near the driver's seat. As each child enters the bus, his or her tag ID number would be read. The ID would be linked to that particular student in the KidGopher software, and be transmitted via a cellular connection to the software running on a server installed at the school, or on a Web-based server hosted by CQ Media Networks. At that time, the software could not only store the event, but also send a text message to parents or other authorized parties, indicating that the child has been picked up by the bus. When the student exits the vehicle, the same process would occur and another text message could be transmitted to report the child's arrival at school.

The bus system, Willis says, could be used not only for children being transported to and from school, but also for field trips, summer camps and other excursions involving children being transported via bus. He expects trials of the system to begin in the fall of this year.

With either the parent-pickup or school bus applications, data is managed by the KidGopher software, which can provide information to smaller school systems via a hosted server, or which can be installed on a larger school district's back-end system (as is the case with Richland School District Two).

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