Dainfern College’s Itirele-Zenzele Feeding Scheme attains accuracy in food parcel distribution through biometric identification.
In October 2004, Dainfern College formed a partnership with a local school, Iterele-Zenzele, to provide food parcels to the pupils who came from child headed or impoverished homes. The teacher in charge of social concerns at the school provides Dainfern College with a list of the most needy children each year and the Dainfern College community, parents and businesses, pledge to donate an amount each month towards these food parcels.
Cheryl Coetzee, director of pastoral care and outreach at Dainfern College, is responsible for the distribution of the food hampers every second Friday. “On paper this scheme is pretty straightforward,” says Coetzee. “However, as it has evolved and grown to 150 beneficiaries, a couple of problems were identified which needed to be addressed in order to contribute to the sustainability of the project.” Coetzee mentioned the following problems:
* Certain non-qualifying learners tried to collect food parcels.
* Certain qualifying learners tried to collect more than one food parcel per session.
* It was difficult to control who had collected a parcel and who had not.
* Finding learner’s details on the list was time consuming and prone to error.
* Learners who had not collected a food parcel for three months in succession, had to be removed from the list to allow for other learners to benefit from the scheme. This proved difficult to administer using the manual system.
Dainfern College approached Suprema in 2009 for assistance with the implementation of a fingerprint identification solution. Suprema and software development company neaMetrics decided to adopt the project as their corporate social investment project for 2010.
NeaMetrics’ key focus is on biometric identity solutions and it therefore had the necessary skills to tailor-make such a niche solution.
In addition, neaMetrics is the only authorised Suprema biometric products distributor in South Africa, so it had access to the best biometric fingerprint reader and image capturing system for the scheme.
The project kicked off in early 2010 with the gathering of all necessary information from the fortnightly site visits. This was followed by the development of a biometric identity solution, known as ‘Our Future – Identity’ that provides the following functionality:
Capturing of information:
* Qualifying learner demographics.
* Portrait image.
* Fingerprint images for identification.
* Enabling and disabling of learners on the system as approved by the school from time to time.
* The learner places his finger on the Suprema BioMini biometric fingerprint reader.
* Fingerprint identification is performed to retrieve the learner’s information (portrait image as well as food parcel receipt history).
* The learner is then flagged to indicate that they received a food parcel.
* If a learner attempts to claim a parcel again, on the same day, (session) the system still retrieves all the data but then indicates that they have already received a parcel.
* Reports to list all learners (for double checking against the schools list).
* Reports showing who did not collect food parcels (for investigation).
* Reports listing students that received food parcels in a particular session or over a period of time (for feedback to donors).
Once the system was developed, various pilot sessions were conducted to perform fine tuning and adjustments. neaMetrics then provided on-site training to the scheme’s administrators and in three 2-hour sessions captured all the images and data necessary to ensure correct learner identification going forward.
Coetzee pointed out that all people involved in the feeding scheme are thrilled, firstly at the level of participation from neaMetrics, as well as the simplicity and accuracy of the identification system. “One of the biggest advantages for us is the incredible reduction in time needed to administer the parcels. It would previously take us between 60 and 90 minutes. This has now been reduced to less than 45 minutes.
“In addition, we have now eliminated the problem with recipient validity since the system has been programmed to flag all learners who have already collected their parcels. We no longer have to deal with children misrepresenting themselves.
“Based on the success of the system at Iterele-Zenzele and the fact that the neaMetrics/Suprema system can handle up to 10 000 individuals, we would like to roll the system out at other schools once we receive funding for food parcels at these facilities,” Coetzee added.
The project has been just as satisfying for neaMetrics/Suprema and as such the company has expressed an interest in identifying and extending the use of this identity solution, as part of its social contribution, to other schools or other similar social development projects.
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