Huntsville, Alabama school district to track students with RFID

The Huntsville school district aims to keep track of students who ride the bus with a new RFID system.

the system, called ZPass, will allow school administrators to keep better track of those students who ride the bus each day. Kyle Koski, transportation director of the district, said about 5,000 students ride the bus.

“It is an immediate way that we can have feedback if a child does not get off (the bus) where he’s supposed to,” Ward said.

The district and police went on alert twice in August when, on the first and second days of school, two elementary students briefly went missing after taking the wrong buses.

This system is being implemented because two small children got on the wrong bus on the first and second days of school. This sort of thing happens every year when students try to learn the new bus system. A student may have ridden bus #7 last year, but this year bus #12 runs the route that takes him/her home. The same applies to new students who don’t know the bus system, students who have never ridden the bus before and kindergarteners who simply don’t understand how things work.

Each student in the pilot program will be assigned a personalized radio frequency identification (RFID) card, which they will swipe in front of a card reader installed on the bus’ dashboard. Students will swipe their cards each time they get on the bus and whenever they exit.

Using RFID technology and GPS, the card reader records the location of the bus at the time of the swipe and immediately loads that information onto the district’s computer network. At any time, administrators can pull up the data — including a map — and see exactly where a student both entered and exited a bus.

Though the new system is designed to track students, it has a major flaw. The system appears to only match a head count with the count on the RFID reader. There’s nothing to say the person holding little Johnny’s card is really Johnny. This is not a new flaw, yet every district that attempts to use RFID for tracking students seems to ignore it.

Author: Michael Jansen
When it comes to cyber-security & privacy protection, no one is better than our chief editor Michael Jansen. Michael started tinkering with computer networks in the early ’90s with led him to study computer science and network engineering at the university. He was always a privacy protection advocate and decided to start this project with his like-minded friends.