Prestigious Wisconsin Private School Uses Biometric Hand Scanner and PIN Pad to Secure Front Access

The Academy of Appleton, Wis., a private pre-, primary and secondary school with a parent to teacher ratio of three to one, is using hand geometry technology to secure its key access point. Parents and the entire faculty must use a biometric hand reader to enter the school. School officials at The Academy, who consider security a top concern, did not want to bother with keys or cards or take the chance of a single code getting compromised.

The school selected the Recognition Systems HandReader for use in the project. The reader, made by a division of Ingersoll-Rand (IR) Security & Safety automatically take a three-dimensional reading of the size and shape of a hand and verify the user's identity in less than one second.

"We chose hand geometry because it maximized security while still making it easy to get in the school," reports Jody Marriot Bar-Lev, co-president and co-founder of The Academy. "We wanted the building to be secure and to know who was coming in and at what time."

At The Academy, children do not wait outside to be picked up. Parents must come inside the school and use the biometric reader to enter it. The HandKey unit is also programmed to let teachers in at special times, including evenings and weekends.

Demonstrating its flexibility at The Academy, the HandReader actually controls two doors at one location. A keypad is located on the outer door and connected to the HandReader. A user enters her PIN number and, if found in the HandReader, the outer door is opened. She then must place her hand on the HandReader to be verified to enter the second door and the building.

Bar-Lev says the HandReader system has made it easier for staff and safer for the children when parents pick up their children, especially during school hours if a child has an appointment off school grounds. Previously, someone had to monitor the door or a bell would ring in the administration office. A school employee would have to stop what they were doing and respond to the bell. Now a parent can just come in and get their child with everyone knowing they are allowed to do so.

The Academy even touts the biometric reader on its website: "Our building is protected by state of the art fire and alarm systems and our doors are locked using biometric hand reader technology to ensure that only approved people are able to enter the school."

"The HandReader system is working very well," Bar-Lev reports. "The system is very well received by parents, teachers and the school administration. We feel the HandReader best fits our needs and is easy to use."

The HandKey is linked to a standard network and HandLink software developed by Time & Technology, the Neenah, Wis. dealer that installed the system.