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West Cheshire College Tracks Whereabouts of Students, Staff

The U.K. vocational and technical school uses Zebra's Dart RFID tags to monitor teachers' locations, and to determine how many students are on campus at any given time, as well as which facilities they utilize.

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Apr. 30, 2012—Schools rely on qualified teachers, motivated students and a challenging curriculum. But many, such as West Cheshire College—a vocational and technical college located in northwest England—also depend on government funding. And such funding requires that schools be able to document the number of students attending classes.

That's why West Cheshire College has deployed a real-time location system (RTLS) within its campus buildings. The school currently employs the technology to monitor how its new buildings are being utilized—the number of full-time students on the various campuses each day, and which facilities each utilizes. This will help the college ensure that it deploys adequate resources throughout its buildings. But the school also plans to utilize the RTLS solution to reliably, quickly and accurately track student attendance, and to document that each student's attendance record matches the actual number of hours for which the college receives funding (a process that is currently manual and time-consuming).

Kevin Francis, West Cheshire College's building services area manager
Since approximately 80 percent of the college's budget is spent on staffing, administrators use the RTLS to track the teaching staff, as a means of ensuring that educators report for classes consistently and on time. In the event of an emergency, the system also helps administrators to quickly locate students and professors.

The school deployed the technology in two phases—first at its Chester Campus, in 2010, and then at its newly built Ellesmere Port Campus, last year. After initially planning to issue active Wi-Fi tags to students that would communicate with each respective building's Wi-Fi network, the college tested active ultra-wideband (UWB) tags manufactured by Zebra Location Solutions, a division of Zebra Technologies.

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