Controlling Theft, Managing Access, Saving Money

Biometric time and attendance solutions are fast, efficient and secure. And everywhere. Swiftly becoming the standard, they practically sell themselves if you are looking for efficient
ways to keep track of employee hours and payroll.

Regardless of modality, these systems help eliminate time-theft, discrepancies based on human error and administrative costs stemming from lost punch cards, RFID tokens or forgotten PINs.
In the last 20 years, identity verification has moved from the numerical to the physical. By scanning the fingers, hands, eyes or face, punch cards and PINs are evolving to obsolescence. Besides, they can be abused, forgotten or lost. Not so with biometrics. They offer fail-safe solutions and save companies millions of dollars every year.

Airports, offices, amusement parks, manufacturing centers and hospitals—virtually anywhere security is a primary issue, you’ll find this technology. It eliminates the need to carry badges or other identification. And it prevents forged paper forms of identification like tickets, badges, or passports.

It provides secure access to protected areas, allows an employee to punch in at the start of the workday, and may even give someone access to a laptop computer.

The Future IS Now

Once the subject of futurists and science fiction writers, biometrics have been adopted first by governments. But biometrics are increasingly applied in the private sector, to the tune of $9.3 billion this year alone. By next year, it may well reach $11.2 billion. After all, estimates have placed intentional and error- driven time theft in the range of 1.5% to 10% of gross
payroll, costing U.S. businesses hundreds of billions of dollars each year. And biometric-based time and attendance solutions virtually eliminate the most significant source of time theft: known as “buddy-punching”—when one worker “clocks” in or out for another.

Biometrics is also big news. The Australian government has incorporated face-recognition technology in passports.ii And for more than a decade, researchers at Purdue University have been studying fingerprinting, iris scans, face recognition, hand geometry, signature verification, and the human-biometric sensor interaction model to increase consumer identity management and security.

How It Works

Biometrics rely on unique, permanent, and scannable human characteristics exclusive to each individual—characteristics that remain constant over time and are reliably collected using a sensor.
Finger readers measure the space between the forks of the ridges in the finger. Hand readers measure the orientation of veins in the hand, or the shape, length, and width of the fingers. Eye readers measure the veins in the retina or the texture of the iris. The shape, acceleration and speed of a person’s signature.

To work successfully, biometric technologies rely on enrollment, identification/verification and refinement.

1. Enrollment: A number of measurements saved digitally provides a template for every individual. These are stored in a database associated with the device or in a smartcard given to the individual.

2. a. Identification: When scanned through finger, hand, or eye, a biometric device compares the new scan to all available templates to find a match. or

2. b. Verification: An individual must first claim an identity using a login name, smartcard, or personal identification number. Then the device compares the new scan to a known template for the individual for verification.

3. Refinement: The template is continually adjusted and perfected for slight changes in the measured characteristics as the individual interacts with the system.

Time Clocks

Biometrics based time and attendance terminals are becoming increasingly popular in today’s market because of their many benefits. The terminals read a person’s unique fingerprint, iris, hand shape, or face shape, and ensure that employees cannot clock in for one another, thereby preventing employee time theft.

One of the most prevalent biometric technologies is the fingerprint recognition system; by placing a finger on the scanner, the time clock terminal reads the fingerprint and allows the person to clock in or out.

Another biometrics terminal that Acumen carries has the ability to recognize hand shape and size. I originally assumed that the device was capturing a three dimensional image of the hand being scanned when I first saw the system. However, in reality, it captures unique “minutia points” on the hand of the employee and measures between the points, then hashes the measurement to a single unique value that is transmitted for verification.

This technology is not restricted to just hands and fingers; there are terminals that scan a person’s iris to recognize the individual. Additionally, certain systems capture an image of a person’s unique face shape and use this to allow employees access to features on the terminal.

One of the newest and most interesting types of biometrics technology deals with recognizing the unique patterns that veins make in a person’s hand. Because these patterns are intricate
and highly complex, it is nearly impossible for one person to clock in as another. The technology, therefore, has very low false acceptance and false rejection rates and is used in especially high security areas.

In this way, biometrics is extremely useful both in helping businesses feel secure and in eliminating employee time theft, as it relies on personal characteristics that vary between individuals. The wide variety of easy to use terminals ensures that biometrics is a smart (and cool) solution when deciding what kind of time and attendance system to purchase for your company.

While biometric technology is more costly than other forms of time clock identification (such as magnetic badges or personal identification numbers), it is important to evaluate the return on investment biometric devices provide based on two key benefits: eliminating buddy punching and establishing security access.

• Eliminating buddy punching. This occurs when an employee either types a tardy employee’s PIN or swipes the employee’s badge earlier than he/she arrives to work or after he/she leaves work. The costs can be enormous. You lose money a few minutes at a time across multiple departments and locations. And biometrics make it almost
impossible for employees to defraud a time and attendance system.

• Establishing security access. Biometrics functions as a security access monitor to grant or deny access to restricted areas. And purchasing and
maintaining magnetic or proximity identification cards (which do not prevent fraudulent access) is eliminated.

Is It Right for Me?

The following are criteria you can use to determine if biometric time clocks are right for your

1. Evaluate the need for authentication or identification. A workplace with employee time fraud problems or a need to control security access benefit greatly from biometric time recorders. A workplace with no security concerns or hourly workers may not need biometrics to maintain accurate employee time and attendance records.
2. Consider the cost/benefit ratio. For smaller organizations, the cost of biometric equipment may be greater than gains from eliminating time theft. However, as biometric technology advances, the price is lowering, allowing more organizations to adopt it. Lower-cost
biometric time clocks have begun entering the market, becoming an option for organizations of all sizes.
3. Assess the compatibility of the biometric technology with the work environment. It is essential that biometric readings be as accurate as possible. For this reason, the environment in which biometric sensors are used is crucial to ensure a good read of employee biometric characteristics. An environment that is too humid or dirty can obscure the fingerprint on a finger-reader platen (or reading surface), making it more difficult to correctly scan the finger. A noisy environment can disrupt the proper collection of voice data.
Persons being scanned with the biometric device can also impact the suitability of that device. For example, a retinal scan requires that a person gaze into an eyepiece. Without cooperation, this type of scan could be difficult. Individuals with worn finger whorls and ridges, due to years of welding or other occupations, may not be able to successfully use a finger reader.

In any environment, a small percentage of the population cannot use the biometric system. For example, 3% of people cannot use finger readers, so it is imperative that the device has an alternate method for interaction. For time recorders, this method usually involves the entry of a PIN and passcode instead of the biometric scanner.

4. Be sensitive to the concerns of employees. When considering the purchase of biometric time recorders, it is important to address the privacy concerns of employees. Explain that a finger or hand reader does not store or recognize employee fingerprints—it uses hand or finger measurements to create a template for the employee. These measurements are
used only for internal authentication and security access. They cannot be used to recreate
biometric data such as a person’s actual fingerprint.

Furthermore, employee privacy is enhanced with biometric time clocks. When an employee accesses benefit time balances using a biometric time clock, no other employee is privy to these records, increasing the security of personal information.
Employees may have concerns about the potential health impact of using the same finger or hand sensor that others use. In reality, the sensor is no more used than a doorknob or ATM. In fact, antibacterial materials are being incorporated into time clock design. For instance, the Schlage HandPunch G-Series time clock uses a silver-based anti-microbial agent that inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and fungi.

The possibilities of biometrics for employee authentication are endless. Experts attest that biometric technology is likely to be used increasingly in transactions requiring identity authentication since it virtually eliminates the ability to duplicate biometric characteristics. In time and attendance, biometrics improve the ease-of-use and accuracy of timekeeping systems while bolstering corporate security and enhancing employee privacy.

The Future

Acumen Data Systems supports the workforce and time and attendance management needs of hundreds of thousands of employees across North America. Acumen’s suite of software and time clocks is a rapidly deployed, cloud-based or SaaS solution that minimizes a company’s risk and technology investment while providing advanced features for securely managing data—calculating pay rules, scheduling employees, budgeting labor, and automating recordkeeping for labor law compliance. With high standard uptime and above average customer retention rates, Acumen Data Systems removes the worry of maintaining expensive infrastructure. Our extensive North American distribution network helps organizations use our products to reduce labor expenses and improve decision making.

i Rapid advances in biometric identif ication technology will eliminate the need for paper and electronic credentials, to the benefit of corporate time and attendance, workforce management, and security efforts.

ii Australian Passport Office.

iii International Center for Biometric Research.