Published on March 14, 2020

The hi-tech biometric attendance system appears to have failed the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hygiene test. 

With health guidelines insisting on avoiding touching oft-handled surfaces, many institutions have dusted out their attendance registers for staff to sign and mark their attendance instead of risk of picking up virus from the finger or thumb scanner.
Prof Nigam Dave, director of SLS at PDPU, said the university stopped using its biometric attendance marking system. “The university HR instructed all faculties not to mark attendance with thumbprint scans. Earlier, we had put hand sanitizer near the biometric pad. We later thought it too was not enough and in the beginning of March, returned to the manual marking of attendance. After all the health of our PDPU family is of utmost importance.”

Several other institutions have followed suit. Ahmedabad University (AU) also stopped use of its biometric system. Arindam Das, director of NIFT Gandhinagar, said that from the beginning of March, an old fashioned register system was put in place again. 

Some institutes yet to suspend biometric attendance

The virus is spread through touch and we wanted to reduce the risk. All staff members now sign a register,” he said.

Dr Aniket Shah, a city-based infectious diseases expert, said suspending use of such biometric systems is a good move. “As we know now, COVID-19 spreads through droplets and doesn’t have much of a range, but we cough or sneeze into our hands. Unsanitized hands can transmit the viral infection.”

Institutes such as Cept University and IIT Gandhinagar are still using their biometric attendance systems. “We make sure attendance is marked only after the persons’ hands are cleaned with sanitizer,” said Anita Hiranandani, registrar of Cept University.

The 1,100-odd employees of Gujarat Gas recently moved back to punch cards from their biometric attendance.HR professionals said biometric systems are very popular as are were effective against practices such as the use of proxies.

Pradeep Sharma, PRO of Ahmedabad division of Western Railways, said all division employees are not using biometric scanners now.

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