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.


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.


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.

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.


Are Proximity Cards the right access control cards for you?

The sheer number of access control readers and cards on the market can make choosing one bewildering. What type of reader system should you choose? Which manufacturer? What type of card or token?

The answer depends on what you want the system to do. Are you looking to simply upgrade from your traditional lock and key system, or do you want something more sophisticated, to grant different access rights to your staff for example? For some help on where to start read our blog ‘Which Access control cards system do I need?’.

One of the most common questions we’re asked is about the differences of the different access control cards. In this blog we’ll look at the Proximity Card.

HiD access control card
Proximity cards are available from a range of manufacturers

How Proximity cards work

As their name suggests, Proximity cards contain information that can be detected by an access control reader when the card is near them. For the technology minded of you, each proximity card has an antenna embedded within it that transmits information encoded as a radio signal. ID badges of this kind are also called RFID or ‘Radio Frequency Identification’ cards. A proximity card reader positioned between 2.5 and 20 inches (depending on the model chosen) receives this signal and grants or denies access accordingly. Unlike contactless smart cards, proximity cards do not have the ability to have new information written onto them.

Who uses Proximity cards?

Proximity cards are often the first choice for organisations that need to restrict entry into particular areas, particularly large businesses with multiple sites. Only card holders with the right access rights will be granted entry. Proximity cards can also bring an added level of security when used hand-in-hand with ID card software. ID information about the card holder that is stored on a microchip is transmitted in a radio wave – this then appears on a computer screen to verify the pass holder’s identity.

The entrances and exits of the card holder can then be logged into a computer database, providing a record of who was in a specific area at any given time.

For these reasons, proximity cards are often used by businesses and institutions that work with sensitive information or significant sums of money, e.g. government buildings, military bases, hospitals, banks, credit card companies and insurance companies. Proximity cards are also used by schools for student and employee ID cards.

The next level of security

You can also invest in software that will immediately notify company security if an attempt is made to enter an area with an unauthorized proximity access card. Other software is available that protects your computer network by detecting invasions from unauthorised computer databases.

We stock proximity cards, keyfobs and tokens from the leading manufacturers: Paxton, HID, Bewator, TDSi, Pac, Cotag, Indala and Kantech. We also stock GenTech access products, which are lower priced compatibles that work across multiple platforms.