Details of some of the digital systems in use at St Columb’s College

ParentPay

ParentPay is a digital method of payment within the school, accessed through a secure website (www.parentpay.com). ParentPay takes payments via debit card or credit card with a third non-card payment option called PayPoint.  For further information on Paypoint payments please click here (Link to Parentpay page on school website).  This is a popular school system so you may already be familiar with the procedure.  Once your child’s account has been topped up or credited your son then pays for all items using a fingerprint. To access the ParentPay system the school will issue you with a username and password. This is normally posted to new students as part of an induction pack during the month of August.

Biometrics

St Columb’s College uses a biometric system (using a fingerprint) to allow pupils to conduct transactions without the need to carry cash.  It enables students to:

  • Pay for food in the Canteen and Link Area from funds they have loaded onto their account;
  • Pay for books/stationery in the Bookpress;
  • Free school meals are accessible through this account and students entitled to free school meals will have their account credited on a daily basis.

A biometric image is a secure and reliable system unique to the individual as it cannot be forgotten, misplaced or stolen.  The security used, converts each fingerprint into a 13-digit number using a mathematical algorithm and is unique to each individual and protects the personal data from misuse. This information cannot be accessed by anyone outside the system or used or transferred outside the school.

St Columbs College in line with Education Authority guidelines adheres to the principles of GDPR processing data in a lawful manner; using data only for the purposes described, ensuring it is kept secure and retained only for the pupil’s duration in the school.

FAQs

1.  What happens if somebody steals a backup of the school's database? Won't they then have everybody's fingerprint image?

Every Biometric database is uniquely encrypted. If a school's security is compromised and a backup of the database is stolen, the data will be unreadable, even by another school.

2.  If my child is fingerprinted can the police use the fingerprint?

No image of a fingerprint is stored so the format cannot be use for forensic identification.

3.  Does Biometrics record images of fingerprints?

It is the policy of Suprema (biometrics image database) never to store images of fingerprints anywhere on their system. Only mathematical representations of certain points of interest are recorded, typically between ten and forty depending on the characteristics of the finger. This information is encrypted and is called a template. This data is extremely secure in its encrypted form but even if it were not encrypted it is impossible to recreate the original fingerprint image from this data.

4.  Can an image be recreated from the stored data?

No. The system uses a short string of encrypted numbers – too little to provide enough detail for the original print to be reconstructed.

5.  Can the information held be used to identify someone in a court of law?

Suprema (Biometrics) only records templates to an accuracy that can discriminate among populations of hundreds or a few thousand people. In the wider population the accuracy of the system is such that it could not be used for forensic matching with any degree of certainty and a court of law has never and could never use this information as evidence.

6.  If I lose my bank card then it can be replaced, but I can’t replace my finger. If a template is stolen, have I lost my identity forever?

The answer is no. The image template stored in the database is merely a string of encrypted numbers. If this string of numbers were to be removed from the database, it would be useless, because it cannot be recognized as a fingerprint. A fingerprint scanner checks for a real finger – it does not recognize a string of numbers, unlike a bank machine, which will accept a bank card from anybody who happens to know the PIN number.

7.  I have heard that Suprema (Biometrics) is a central database. Where is the information kept?

The Suprema database is stored locally on the school servers.

8.  My child is going to be fingerprinted and I strongly object. How will they get their lunch or use the library? 

The school will issue your child with an alternative method of identification, such as a pin code, which can be used in the canteen or library.