Keeping Kids In School The Smart Way

For institutions with high traffic, such as schools and movie theaters, it can be difficult to keep track of individuals moving in and out, especially without a critical mass of security. For schools especially, keeping track of student attendance and preventing kids from leaving campus in the middle of the day can be a costly problem.

The solution that Tunisian engineers [Michael Djimeli], [Darius Koliou], and [Jinette Tankoua] came up with was to create a smart gate that only turns when checks are carried out by designated security officers. The design is retrofitted to existing school turnstiles in his hometown of Monastir, Tunisia, and uses an RFID card, biometric devices, and a host of access controls to ensure that the student attempting to turn the turnstile is validated first.

The smart gate uses a few methods for identification – either by RFID, fingerprint, facial recognition, or by reading a QR code. An external database stores each user’s data and their transaction history, effectively storing their attendance data. In addition to relaying the information to an administrator, the smart gate also checks the credit of the user — whether they’ve paid the entrance fee for a movie theater, or whether they’re permitted to exit school grounds as a student.

A Raspberry Pi is used as the card collector, relaying information on transaction data over WiFi. Meanwhile local identification information via biometric devices and key fobs are relayed to the processor over Bluetooth. There are also plans to develop a mobile app to track the status of the smart gate remotely.

While the full systems integration isn’t published yet, there are several photos of the control box, which shows the components used for the first smart gate. The mechanical design was successfully tested on the IUC Douala Cameroon university campus (with 35-45 students identified per minute), and the project will hopefully be repeated within more schools in the coming year.

44 thoughts on “Keeping Kids In School The Smart Way

      1. Buildings of grey concrete and steel filled with loving teachers can be far from soul killing. Beautifully designed and engineered buildings filled with bureaucratic, cowardly, lazy, selfish staff who just run you through the process are the real soul killers.

    1. Hope you realize that Tunisia can be a relatively violent country in comparison to US and avoiding access of non-school related people can potentially save young lifes.
      “Depressing gates” can actually be a neat safety feature.

    2. How is keeping people safe depressing? Steel and concrete help people keep/become safe from nasty people, animals, and the elements. We should view such materials as beautiful.

    1. You might be able to notice that there is outside space on the other side of the gateway, and where there are turnstiles like this there is usually a large gate that can be opened for use in emergencies, or when the transit of something larger or less wieldy than a human is required.

  1. “Rather than have the students moving from classroom to classroom inside of vast schools, it would be better to have much smaller facilities and the teachers are the ones that move from classroom to classroom and school to school.”

    This wouldn’t work in a system where not every student take the same set of classes in a day. IOW, when students can choose which classes they take, you can’t easily group them in a classroom for an entire day. Now, I don’t know what the school system is Tunisia is like, so I can’t say whether this would work there.

    1. I think most of the world have students taking the same classes in the same classroom all day long in primary education.

      They definitely have students moving instead of teachers in secondary education/college and universities where students are consider more independent and professors/teacher more prestige.

  2. Bad idea, I’ve seen a case a few years ago of a Uni in the Uk (in the midlands in a town between northamptonshire and derbyshire) which instituted this kind of thing. Causes chaos as everyone rushes into a lecture thatre trying to swipe a card at a box to be marked present, then it fails and an admin has to go through it later and mark everyone present anyway. Wastes students time, they can be trusted to turn up or upon their own failure be it. Wastes lecturers time, first several minutes now dedicated to getting everyone swiped in or waiting until the system goes live before doing so, uses up time to teach. Wastes departmental secretaries time, fixing the systems mistakes. Makes central timetabling departments more powerful, now all lectures have to be set centrally so the system can record swipes and that means departments that own their own lecture theatres get bleeped around. Also saw it done at a college, caused similar chaos. And bringing this into africa, where fragile recently built infrastructure is mroe likely to go down, will magnify the chaos. The system here sounds cheap but the small amount of money would still be betetr used on more computing or library resources for student use.

  3. Keeping the students together in classroom groups of 30 or so builds an extended family atmosphere through connections, dispelling the isolation of “I’m alone among several hundreds or even thousands”, an isolation in so large of a crowd which spurs a definite amount of emotional difficulties and the violence. The cost of moving instructors around is a loss, yes. The gain to be had is not monetary, it’s social. Our complaints are about the social problems yet schooling is designed based on costs.

    Do as you like, no problem with me. You get live around them for the rest of your life.

  4. Make school voluntary (for the parents), deregulate and privatise the system. Result: incentives for safe schools (paying customers don’t want to risk their investment) and alternatives come on the scene (VR and AR, pay-per-class in various locations, with kids moving in smaller groups between sites)

  5. I agree with all the other posters. I immediately felt like this is the wrong way to solve a problem. Forcing people inside during a fire would be disastrous. Usually the power goes out in a fire as the breaker gets overloaded with shorts, meaning that even if they had time to individually get out, the power won’t work and they will be trapped. This is borderline endangerment. What kind of engineers are we talking about here? Usually engineers take safety into account first and foremost, then design.

    1. Why would you assume this is the entire system? There can be safe areas inside the fence, there can be other mechanisms for entry and exit, there can be other access points like this one. I would have all of the above. In fact I’ve worked in facilities with such access restrictions and they’ve had all of the above.

    2. “Usually engineers take safety into account first and foremost, then design.”

      What makes you think they haven’t?

      I’ve never seen a school without an outside area for breaks (maybe they do exist) and presumably this is a gate in the school perimeter, not a way to trap pupils in a burning building!

    1. Absolute frigging nonsense. I can’t imagine how the whole “only the US has mass shootings” thing came about but it is one of the most asinine and stupid things I have ever heard. No mass shootings in Afghanistan? No mass shootings in Israel? (then why do they do the intelligent thing and arm their teachers?) Iraq? I could go on…
      The difference is that in the US, unlike most other countries, we are free to defend ourselves, and we have an unfettered press that loves to insult the American people on international forums.

      What you don’t hear are how many shootings are stopped in their tracks every day by law abiding citizens using their right to bear arms. Responsible, legal gun owners have NEVER been the problem, and criminals will ALWAYS find a way to get their grubby hands on weapons.

  6. With the closer knit smaller group it would be easy to identify the errant behavior of one, and maybe the group will handle the situation (ideal as teaching a social lesson) or it requires staff attention and intervention.

    Rat studies done long ago show that as the population grows it will break into smaller competing groups that gang up to murder individuals of rival groups. We also see this happening in human society. School or cage, we have the ability to manage behavior simply by adjusting the size and population of the facility. Why neglect to use a method proven to reduce conflicts?

    Results will depend upon what we value and adjust the environment to create. Chugging straight ahead to simply build larger facilities with stronger cage walls to hold larger groups is going to have a definite effect on society. Silly to not adjust it to produce effects we WANT.

    1. Your posts about social interaction and then applying to the school system are down right disturbing.
      I really hope that you have NOTHING to do with the education system in any country.

  7. Skimming through the other comments, I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking this sounds depressing. It read much like an article on whatever the latest police-state china shenanigans are with using tech to control, observe, manipulate, rate, and intimidate the masses of people… and yet the author wrote as if it were a *good thing*. What the heck is happening at hackaday?

  8. My highschool handled this a bit differently…

    Two sets of doors, ideally because of the climate not because of security.

    During the day the first set of doors would open from the outside, and the second set of doors would only open from the inside…

    If you were a student trying to get out, you’d get past the first set of doors, and stopped by the second set of doors, and were then stuck in the “sally port”.

    If you were some one trying to get in, you’d get through the first set of doors and get stopped by the second… and stuck in the sally port.

    Since it was all magnetic locks a fire alarm would unlock all door, same with a power outage.

    There was a intercom wired into the sally port and a camera so the security officer could see who was in there, and talk to them, and even buzz them in or out from his desk… there was also a fire alarm lever in all of the sally ports so in the event some one wanted to get in they could pull the fire alarm, and the doors would unlock, but I suspect in the new wave of school shootings that might have been removed and the glass doors might have been replaced with steel doors, or had some bars added to them…

    Before and after school the doors were just unlocked so people could come and go… there was talk of putting metal detectors in at the time though I don’t know if anything ever came of that…

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