Future Close For City Workers

Thursday, March 27th 2008, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6

The future is a lot closer than it used to be in the City of Tahlequah. They're using high-tech hand-scanners to track their employee's work hours.  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports it's called biometrics.  Chances are you'll be hearing that word more and more in the years to come.

Basically, it's the practice of using some physical trait such as your fingerprints, your voice pattern or the blood vessels in your retina to verify who you are.

Clocking in for work at the City of Tahlequah these days has a kind of secret agent feel.

"We'll walk in and they'll see people putting their numbers is and scan their hand and ya know, they'll have this baffled look on their face," said Chad Grauke.  "They'll kind of give you a look like you're more important than you are."

The novelty of the hands-on technology has already worn off for Grauke, but he definitely likes not having to fill out a timesheet.

"The accountability is just tremendous," said Tahlequah City Administrator Kevin Smith.

Smith says it all started after some disputes over hours worked.

"From that point, we started looking at how we can tighten everything up," said Smith.

He says the former mayor of Tahlequah was an avid gadget guru and they soon discovered the growing world of biometrics.

One particular scanner analyzes more than fingerprints.  It does a complete 3D scan of the hand, length, width, thickness, surface area, more than 31,000 points.

It's so sensitive, even a band-aid or a cut on the hand is taken into account when assessing your identity.

As you might expect some find it a little creepy.  But Grauke says it's fair.          

"As far as it being invasive, no, I don't agree with that," said Grauke.  "You can't argue it.  You're there or you're not.  You have to be there to clock in for yourself.  You can't have people do it for you.  So yeah, you can't be having two-hour lunches."

"Everybody's getting a fair shake.  The citizens are getting a fair shake for the taxpayers.  And the employees, if they're working overtime, they get credit for it," said Smith.

The hand scanner manufacturer says it's sold devices to cities big and small, as well as companies like McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts.

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