Is it becoming easier for schools to embrace biometric technology?

With Paxton recently announcing the integration of biometrics within its Net2 access control system, is one of the main stumbling block for schools – that of cost – about to be negated?

The argument for and against biometrics within schools and educational establishments has been rife for some time now. For many parents and pupils, the argument against implementing biometric measures such as fingerprint or iris scanning centres around the invasion of privacy.

This, and the fact that they make the act of tracking and monitoring of pupil’s movements and behaviour seem ‘normal’.

For the establishments themselves, there is almost always a financial consideration too. Biometrics technology comes at a cost – not just in terms of the technology itself, but also of the administration time needed to turn it into a reality.

For smaller schools with smaller budgets, these considerations mean it just hasn’t been a realistic topic on the agenda.

But is all that set to change?

One of the most popular access systems used by schools, colleges and institutions around the country is the Paxton Net2 system. The reasons for this are many. It’s competitively priced and easy to install and manage. The associated keyfobs, cards or tokens aren’t expensive either, so ongoing costs are kept at a minimum. In short, Paxton are known for their reliability and for being user friendly, without breaking the bank.

Until very recently, if you wanted to bring biometrics in to school, you would most likely need to invest in an entirely new access system.

However Paxton has just announced that Suprema’s industry leading biometric technology is to be integrated into the Paxton Net2 system.

Which means what exactly?

According to Paxton’s press release, this new integration “seamlessly connects Suprema’s biometric access control readers and Paxton’s Net2software”. It means you’ll be able to ‘plug in’ biometric capabilities into your existing Paxton Net2 software, allowing you to enroll users and create ‘biometric tokens’.

It means that the argument against using biometrics due to financial constraints or heavy administration requirements just lost some ground.

Smaller schools who previously rejected the idea as an impossibility may soon be bringing the subject up again for debate.

Let’s not forget the benefits

Biometrics enable ‘true identity’ – a fingerprint or iris/vein scan can’t be borrowed or copied in the way that an ID card can. Then there’s speed and convenience when it’s used in the library to check out books, for example. And the ‘cool’ factor from the perspective of the pupils – it’s fun to scan your finger to pay for your lunch (and it facilitates equality too, as no-one knows who qualifies for free school meals).

But as with all things of this nature, the implementation of such measures needs to be handled with caution, and with proper consultation with parents.

A piece of research published last year by Big Brother Watch based on data from the 2012-13 academic year revealed that an estimated 40% of schools in England are already using biometric systems. It therefore surmised that fingerprints have already been taken from more than one million school pupils; many without their parents’ consent.

Do you think that the integration of biometric technology into the Net2 system will pave the way for biometric measures being more widely used within schools? Let us know what you think.


IFSEC 2014 round up

Thermal cameras are coming to your smartphone, the smallest door controller we’ve ever seen, a surveillance robot only 50cm high & The Raptor

IFSEC International is one of the biggest dates in the security industry’s calendar. If you manufacture security products, you’ll have been planning for this one for months.

This year it was held in the ExCeL in London and attracted over 24,000 visitors from around the globe.

Here’s a breakdown of what interested us most when we were there.

E-vigilante surveillance robot

Watch out opportunistic crooks, there’s a robot on your tail. EOS Innovation, an award-winning European start-up, were showing off their E-vigilante robot with high-resolution camera, and rightly so.  The camera pans 360° and can patrol randomly or follow a pre-programmed route – all of which is controlled by a security agent remotely.

A key target is organisations with large warehouses or areas that can’t always be easily physically patrolled, and obviously it can keep people costs down.

The remote agent can choose to set off alarms, flashing lights or talk to the intruder through the robot. So you could say it’s like your front-line in defence, even though it’s just 50cm tall.

z-5r door controller
No bigger than your thumb

Is this the smallest door controller you’ve ever seen?

It was for us. That’s our £1 coin beside it on the photo, so you can see it to scale. Annoyingly, we forgot to take it with us when we left. Stand people: you owe us a quid.

This teeny Z-5R door controller bills itself as the ‘simplest entry controller’ and it certainly won’t be an eyesore in your expensively designed office. Despite its size, it still has the memory for 1364 cards. Put one in your pocket today.

The Raptor
Who’s up for a test drive?

The Raptor

The world’s first road-legal, three-wheeled electric powered vehicle. Where can we take it out for a spin?

The Raptor is being marketed as a ‘major breakthrough for policing and security patrols’. The ‘driver’ stands on an elevated platform that gives them the ability to see over crowds – making it ideal for events or processions.

With its top speed of 25mph it’s never going to be one for catching car thieves. But its ‘custom-made chassis, electronic differential and intuitive handle bars’ made it one of the most popular products at the show for gadget lovers. Whether it’s actually practical in a crowd situation remains to be seen.

Flir One

Always wanted a thermal imaging camera on your iPhone? Well you’ll soon be able to, if you can afford it.

FLIR were giving us a sneak peek of their first thermal imaging device designed for consumers that translates thermal energy into dynamic colour images. Good for outdoor adventures, detecting leaks, security and much more. You just know it’ll be a great hit at parties.

DESfire technology is everywhere

One thing we couldn’t help but notice is how much DESfire technology is now being used in access control readers. Compared with our visit to IFSEC last year, the amount of manufacturers now using DESfire has increased significantly. With this will come a demand for more DESfire cards, which are currently only readily available as blank, non-branded cards.

We will shortly be able to offer pre-printed DESfire cards – with both trade branding and trade prices available. If you’re an installer interested in these, please contact us.

Other things that got us talking

access control lock
Impenetrable? Now there’s a challenge…

Paxton Access showed us their nigh-on impenetrable door lock and eSurv attracted big crowds to look at their drone that can be used for surveillance with their VMS software.

We were able to get a good look at HID Global’s new iClass Seos contactless smart cards that will be the next big thing in securing identities.

We also got a good look at how Samsung are ‘changing the face of IP’ with their open platform technology that allows customers to upload third-party apps to their cameras. You can watch their video on YouTube

Unsurprisingly, innovation is alive and well in the security industry, and NFC technology continues to make its mark. Let’s wait and see what IFSEC in 2015 has to offer.


The end of the Hotel Receptionist?

Smartphone technology will get some hotel guests straight into their room – without having to check in at the front desk

Empty receptions could soon be the norm if smartphone technology takes off

On arrival at your hotel, would you prefer to bypass reception, make your way straight to your room, wave your smartphone over the lock and hey presto, you’re checked in?

The answer will probably depend on how far you’ve travelled, the reason for your stay, and what generation you are.

For a certain kind of traveller, it’s almost certainly going to be a reason they’ll choose one kind of hotel over another.

It’s been talked about for a while, and it’s nearly here

Virtual keys, powered through an app that uses Bluetooth technology on your smartphone are being trialled and perfected by a handful of hotel chains. They signal the end of lengthy check-in queues for weary travellers, and the frustration of hotel key cards fails after you’ve dragged your bags half way across the hotel.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts in the US have been working on their virtual room key for months now. The app isn’t released yet, but they’re asking for people to ‘opt-in’ to register for the pilot. They’re confident that it will be a game changer for the industry, and as an early adopter, a real opportunity for them to carve out a distinct position.

Hardly a coincidence then that have chosen to trial the technology in their Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California, which is just around the corner from Apple’s headquarters.

But not everyone is convinced.

The attempt to streamline the check-in process isn’t new. Some hotel chains introduced check-in kiosks in their busiest hotels, but to mixed results. They found that many travellers just ignored them, preferring to speak to a real person.

Leisure travellers, more so than the business travellers, tend to look for a personal welcome to their hotel experience. If it’s a planned trip away, or a special occasion, the guest will want to interact with staff to try for an upgrade, or request a room with a view for example. And if they don’t know the area, they’ll have more questions than most – which will be far quicker answered by a person than an app.

‘Ease and convenience’ also means less to the older traveller, who won’t necessarily be as au fait with the technology on their phone.

The potential danger

Although Starwood Hotels sees the virtual keys as a key guest attraction method, particularly for regular travellers, the opposite could also prove to be true.

Given how competitive the hospitality industry is, one of the only ways that establishments can genuinely differentiate themselves is through their customer service and brand experience. If guests are bypassing the opportunities to experience those – won’t the hotel just become faceless, and the same as everyone else?

Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. There is no shortage of hotels offering the ability to check-in online, in the same way as you would before boarding an airline. Those guests then go to a different check-in desk to pick up their key, presumably avoiding the queues at the main check-in desk. Then guests get to experience convenience and customer service.

Whatever the answer is, you can expect smartphones to truly live up to their name in the next few years.

Smartphone technology is already the biggest news in access control since biometrics

From an access point of view, smartphone technology is poised to take over from physical items like ID cards or access key fobs/tokens. And it’s going to happen soon.

You can already use your phone to prove your identity to open the car park barriers at work, enter your office and gain access to a festival or event. Its success is obvious: it makes sense to use the one thing that the overwhelming majority of people always carry with them.

What do you think about checking into your hotel via an app? Would you use it? We’d love to know what you think.




Is security in schools about technology or common sense?

Should we turn our schools into fortresses?

Security within schools has always an emotive issue, and given the recent events in Leeds, it’s been thrust centre-stage again.

There has been a tide of articles in the press recently questioning what security processes can be put into place to keep our schools safe. Installing metal detectors and security technology such as locked gates, personal alarm buttons and access control systems are all being discussed, but do we really want our schools to turn into fortresses?

One of the hot topics is naturally concerned with visitors, and how to make sure you don’t receive any unwanted ones.

Do you rely on technology to control visitors, or common sense?

The answer will probably be related to the number of pupils, layout of the school and the funding available. Small primary schools are unlikely to have the budget – or need – for extensive CCTV systems or biometrics access control technology. Others will benefit from having areas within the school that can only be accessed by staff with the right cards, or doors that automatically lock for certain parts of the day.

But what about those who simply don’t have the funds?

A lot of security comes down to common sense

A lot of ways to prevent unauthorised visitors comes down to common sense, which won‘t impact on an already stretched school budget. For example:

– Ensure only one main entrance is in use during school hours

– Keep it locked from the outside, so visitors have to call or ring for entry

– Have the entrance ‘manned’ by a receptionist or secretary at all times

– Make sure all playgrounds can only be accessed from within the school

– All visitors – even parents who are known to the school – should use this main entrance and report to the receptionist/secretary

Have a clear procedure for dealing with visitors

The easiest way to deal with visitors is to issue school visitor passes or contractor passes to all individuals, regardless of the purpose of their visit or how well known they are to the staff.

It’s important to adopt a one rule for all stance – if you break the rules for one visitor, your staff will lose faith in the procedure.

School visitor passes usually come as part of a ‘system’ that allows you to record visit date, name, host, company and vehicle information. All these details are held on a discreet bottom sheet, whilst pre-numbered passes are handed to the individuals. This creates a future reference sheet and a current fire register, which meets your health and safety obligations.

Some processes to follow:

– Ensure ALL visitors wear a badge clearly identifying them as such

– Make sure the badge is visible at all times

– Give all visitors information about fire evacuation procedures, child protection procedures and any other relevant health & safety information

– Allocate a person who will be responsible for them during their visit

– Ensure that visitors can’t wander around the school on their own – either bring the allocated person to reception to pick them or escort them to their contact

– If in any doubt, ask for a form of ID before handing out the visitor’s badge.

Make sure all staff are briefed on your policy

One of the reasons security processes fall-down is because not everyone is aware of the policy. Make sure all staff know that every visitor should be clearly identified as such, and give them permission to challenge anyone they don’t know within the school if they aren’t accompanied or wearing school visitors passes.

School visitor passes can be bought off the shelf, or customised to your own branding. You could choose to include specific school health and safety information for example.

Deter opportunists

Whilst these measures won’t be able to prevent tragedies like Ann McGuire’s death from happening again, they will put off those opportunists who look for open doors or unmanned reception desks. They are an important way of safeguarding our children during a normal day at school.


Paxton Net2 new v5 software: perfect for one-off events

At The Card Network, we sell more Paxton Net2 Keyfobs, cards and readers than any other manufacturer – by quite a margin. The Paxton Net2 access control system continues to be one of the most popular in the country, especially amongst schools.

Paxton Net2 cards
Paxton Net2 access control is more flexible than before

And with the launch of their new v5 software, the Paxton Net2 just got smarter and more flexible.

So what’s new?

–   Grant temporary access to workers

This will be good news for users who have shift workers or contractors that need access to the building for specific periods of time.

–   One-off time period feature for special events

Set temporary access permissions to a specific door, for as long (or as short) as you need to. This ‘custom days’ feature also makes it easy to modify access for special events or one-off occasions, such as a parents evening at school or a client entertainment / presentation after work. When the time allocated elapses, the system reverts back to its original privileges set-up. NB: this is only available on the Pro version of the software.

–    New Landlord Tenant feature

This new feature ensures that certain users only have access to relevant areas of the Net2 system, and only control the access levels pertinent to them. For example, department heads will only be able to view the information of their own staff, rather than those in other departments. (Again, this is only available on the Pro version).

Other features of the new Paxton Net2 software include:

–          Triggering actions such as turning on a light when a door is opened

–          Customising how long a door remains open for – catering to the needs of disabled users for example, or for delivery people who need extra time

–          The use of the ‘double tap trigger’ – present a token twice in quick succession to trigger an action

–          The ability to automatically reset the fire alarm.

As you’d expect from Paxton, the software is intuitive: easy to use and get around. Paxton reckons you can confidently have it up and running in two hours.

There is free Paxton Net2 Training available – see here for more information.

Watch the Paxton cartoon on YouTube for a fast & easy to absorb picture on the features.


No entry – sorry, your face doesn’t fit

If you read in the news about someone not being allowed entry to a club because they were wearing trainers or the ‘wrong type of jeans’, you wouldn’t be surprised.

But to be denied entry because your face isn’t right? Surely not.

Well actually, yes.

3D facial recognition technology for an exclusive membership club

3D facial recognition reader
“You may enter, 007”

MorphoTrak, an established provider of biometric readers for access control, has just introduced its 3D facial recognition technology to The Marque, an exclusive membership club in Houston, Texas.

The technology means that you won’t be allowed in unless your face fits – quite literally. A quick glance at the reader and members are instantly recognised, and the access control door unlocks to allow entry.

The Morpho 3D Face Reader™ is described as being ‘lightning-speed’, highly secure and convenient. The General Manager of The Marque comments that it’s “all very James Bond – which is why we love it.”

We can definitely see one advantage to this latest trend in access control: you won’t have to put your glass of champagne down to open the door.

Printed Mifare cards now available


Genuine mifare cards printed
Choose from a range of options and security features on your printed Mifare cards

The Card Network now provides double-sided print on Mifare Classic 1K and 4k chip cards.

This new printing service offers businesses, schools and organisations the flexibility to brand their printed Mifare cards, and choose from a range of features including numbering, variable text, signature panels, barcodes, as well as encoded & unencoded magnetic stripes.

Why use printed Mifare cards?

Mifare cards use NXP-Semiconductors trademarked chips, which are widely used in contactless smart cards and proximity cards. Thanks to their reliability and low cost, the cards are used by all kinds of organisations for different applications.

Printed Mifare cards are commonly used for access control, ticketing, transportation and as a smart ‘wallet’

Schools and colleges commonly choose printed Mifare cards because they’re capable of many functions. As well as being used for access control (for entry to the library for example) they can also be used for cashless vending (where a student ‘swipes’ for their lunch), to check out library books, or to access the computer system.

Printed Mifare cards are also well suited to environments where a low level of security is required. Sports clubs often use them as a means of allowing members to enter the locker rooms, and because they can also allow them to access their account at the bar.

The cards also act as perfect tickets – use them as season membership cards for example, and swipe them to get through the turnstile at a football match. They’re also widely used by transport providers as electronic tickets.

Genuine chips, high quality print

All the cards we supply contain genuine NXP Mifare chips: we don’t sell compatibles from the Far East. Our modern print set up doesn’t use surface print, so both the card and chip remain safe under the laminate overlay.

The chips in the card are supplied unencoded. If you have any special requirements for your printed Mifare cards, or you’re not sure which type to order, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to discuss your project. All our prices include design and artwork.

250 full colour, double-sided 1K printed Mifare cards start from £399.00.


Making the most of your access control system?

Lots of small businesses have some kind of access control system onsite. In the main, the system was brought in to replace traditional locks & keys, with employees using an access control card or token to gain entry through the front door. But could it be doing more to protect your business?


HID access control wall reader
Adding a new access control reader into your system can pay dividends

Your access control system could be doing more to look after your property and assets

Are there sensitive areas within your building that contain valuable assets or information, or could be classed as ‘dangerous spaces’, for example a warehouse? If so, you should think about controlling who has access to them.

Don’t make yourself vulnerable to theft

As much as we might not like to think about it, employee theft is not uncommon. If you have expensive stock or products, make sure they are in an area managed by your access control system. Only those authorised to enter will be able to gain access.

Keep confidential information confidential

Certain business information will be better protected through access control cards, particularly as traditional keys can be copied, or used by disgruntled or past employees. Securing the area where personal employee information or financial details are held for example makes sense – and makes you less vulnerable.

Protect yourself & your workforce

Workplace accidents like slip and trip incidents often happen because people access areas that they shouldn’t, or areas that they haven’t received the proper training to be in. Ensuring that these ‘increased risk spaces’ are restricted through your access control system protects both your people and your business.

Restricting people’s access to your stock, money storage, sensitive information or increased risk areas can help protect your business, your people and your bottom line.

If you have specific areas that should have limited access, talk to your security provider about adding them into your access control system. We stock a range of industry-leading HID readers (for prox, iClass and Multiclass) and access control cards and tokens from HID, Paxton, Bewator, TDSi, Kantech, Indala, Cotag, Impro and PAC.

ID cards replaced in a heartbeat?

Ever thought you’d be able to unlock a door or your PC with your heartbeat?

No? We didn’t either. But Bionym’s latest brainchild – the Nymi – promises to do all that, and more.

Bionym nymi
It’s enough to set our pulses racing

On first glance, the Nymi is a simple looking wristband, a bit like a minimalist watch. But according to Bionym, it’s actually “the first wearable authentication technology that allows you to take control of your identity through cardiac rhythm recognition”. Or put another way, this nifty wristband is able to authenticate your identity by measuring the rhythm of your pulse.

So in any situation where you have to prove your identity to do something – like use your ID cards, pay for your lunch or boot up your laptop – the Nymi will automatically do it for you.

The latest advance in access control?

There have been a lot of innovations unveiled recently in the world of access control and ID cards security. HID Global have recently introduced their gesture based methods – which would allow us to open doors with the right wave of the hand. New biometric methods and smartphone technologies continue to make headlines. Will this new wristband be the way you unlock your car doors in the future?

Be still my beating heart…

What we want to know is what happens if your heartbeat speeds up or down? What if someone in the office reception sets your heart racing? Will you be locked out until you calm down?

We’ll have to wait and see – it’s early days. The company haven’t released the hardware yet, or the developer program.

However if you want to be first in line when they do come out, you can pre-order for the launch price of $79. There’s even a choice of colours.

See more at

Are Paxton Net2 Key fobs the UK’s favourite?

Our shelves certainly think so. We sell more Paxton Net2 Key fobs 695-644 than any other kind of proximity card, smart card or token. So what makes them so popular? Especially in an industry where innovation is the norm?

Biometric, smart phone or traditional card reader?

The access control market is awash with solutions, all of which protect your assets, buildings and people in different ways. From biometric entry solutions to emerging trends in smart phone technologies, the industry doesn’t stand still.

The key access control suppliers are hard at work in R&D producing the latest talking point – just recently for example HID Global announced their latest ‘gesture based’ technology, allowing you to open doors with a wave.

But are these systems within reach of most organisations?

Amongst all of this innovation, the Net2 systems continue to hold their own in the market as reliable, robust access control solutions. And from our perspective, the most popular access control products are still Paxton Net2 Key fobs, not smart phone apps or iris-readers.

Paxton Net2 Key fobs
Paxton Net2 Key fobs continue to be our most popular product

Maybe it’s the solid, reassuring feel of a Key fob that people like above key cards. Or their reliability. Or the fact that they come with a lifetime guarantee from Paxton and are simple they are to program. We suspect it’s probably a mixture of them all – and the fact that the Net2 systems are well suited to the majority of organisations’ needs.

Whatever the reason, Paxton Net2 Key Fobs are regularly ordered by schools, sports clubs, housing associations and businesses across the UK, and are our best-selling product.

We are currently selling 10 Paxton Net2 Key fobs 695-644 for £29 for 10.